The 10 key yoga poses for beginners
1. Child’s pose
The go-to movement for whenever the class becomes a bit too much and you need a rest. You’ll probably recognise this move from other fitness classes, as it’s often included in various cool down stretches. Kneeling down, with your knees about hip-width apart, make sure your big toes are touching. As you exhale, lower your buttocks toward your heels and rest your torso on – or between – your thighs. Reach your hands out in front, placing your forearms flat on the ground, and let your forehead rest gently on the mat.
2. Warrior 1
Starting with your right leg forward, step your back foot towards the back of the mat, creating a long stance. Bend your right leg so that your knee is in front of your ankle, but not over your toes. Extend and lengthen your arms upward. Try to angle your hips towards the front and keep both feet facing in the same direction.
3. Downward dog
One of the most common and recognisable yoga poses. Start on your hands and knees, with your hands hip-width apart and your knees under your hips. Press into your palms and raise your knees off the ground. Lift your hips up and back, working to lengthen your spine. Exhale and try to straighten your legs as much as you can, keeping your head tucked under. Lift your shoulders away from the ears and flatten the shoulder blades on your back. Don’t forget, your heels do not have to be flat on the ground.
4. Triangle pose
Probably one of my favourites. Step your left foot back and angle out to 90 degrees. Your front heel should be in line with the arch of your back foot. Inhale and raise your arms out to the sides, shoulder height. Exhale and reach your left arm to the left, lengthening your torso directly over the left leg as you move your hips to the right. Rest your left hand on your shin and stretch your right arm toward the ceiling, in line with the tops of your shoulders. Turn your torso up towards the ceiling. Turn your head to gaze up at your right hand. Hold, then try the other side.
Simple, and perfect for beginners, lie flat on your belly and place your hands under your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to your torso. Draw your stomach up away from the mat and begin to straighten the arms to lift your head and chest forward and up off the floor. Widen the chest and hold before exhaling and lowering yourself back onto the floor.
6. Warrior 2
Similar to Warrior 1, step your left foot towards the back of the mat and angle at 90 degrees. Press down through the pinky toe edge of your back foot to avoid collapsing. Extend your arms out, raising them parallel to the floor with your palms facing down. Hold your gaze just over the middle finger of your right hand and relax your shoulders down and away from your ears. Remember to bend your right knee, stacking it in front of your right ankle, but behind your toes.
7. Chair pose
Standing up straight with your arms at your side and your feet together, inhale and lift your arms over your head, with your palms facing each other. Exhale and bend your knees and lower your hips backwards as if you’re sitting on an invisible chair. Squeeze your inner thighs together and drop your tailbone towards your heels.
8. Tree pose
This one will test be sure to test your balance. With your feet together, slowly raise your left leg and place the sole of the left foot to either the inner thigh or shin of the right leg. Avoid placing your foot near your opposite knee and try to keep your hips level. Press your foot against the opposite leg and bring your palms together at your chest. If you’re feeling strong, try raising your arms above your head, then try the other side.
9. Half forward fold
Begin in a standing forward fold (Uttanasana), with your feet separated hip-distance apart and your knees bent as much as you need. Inhale and lift your torso up halfway to find a flat back, and either place your fingertips on either side of your feet or your palms on your shins. Straighten your arms and lift your torso away from your thighs. Send your gaze slightly forward to lengthen the back of your neck.
Lie on your back, bend your knees and set your feet flat on the floor, with your heels close to your torso. Place your arms alongside your hips, palms down. Pressing your feet and palms into the floor, lift your hips up. Lift your buttocks until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Use your legs to support you.