Are you a beginner yogi? If so, that’s really exciting! Yoga is beneficial in so many ways! It encompasses physical, spiritual, and mental connection and can help you relax, lose weight, and even improve some medical conditions. Whatever your reasoning for wanting to get started in yoga, it is a great way to get your body moving, which is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle. And the best thing about yoga, is that you don’t need to buy a gym membership or sign up for a yoga class to start practicing. An at-home yoga practice can be just as beneficial.
It can be pretty intimidating in the beginning of your yoga journey. There are a lot of big words that are hard to understand and images of flexible people in all sorts of crazy positions.
You may be thinking to yourself, “There’s no way I will ever be able to do that!” That’s exactly what I was thinking when I first started too. But I quickly learned that’s not really what yoga is about. A simple seated pose can do just as much for you as a headstand (or inversion pose) can do for someone else. Yoga is all about what feels good to YOU. It’s also a progression, so don’t expect to be able to hold those “crazy looking” poses in the beginning. One big mistake beginner yogis make is focusing to much on the shape of their pose rather than how they feel in that pose. It’s important to feel aligned and connected in each pose (no matter how simple that pose may be) before pushing yourself into the next.
I’ve put together a list of some beginner poses that are good to work on and master if you want to start practicing some Vinyasa yoga flows. “What is vinyasa?”, you may be wondering. Don’t be intimidated by the big words! Most of the words you’ll hear in relation to yoga are in Sanskrit, which is a language used in Hinduism and Buddhism where yoga originated. Vinyasa is a type of yoga that refers to transitioning between different poses in a special way. Typically you will hear it called a “vinyasa flow” because you flow through the poses in a sequential manner. Whether you want to tone your body, get rid of anxiety, improve your concentration, or just feel refreshed in the morning, trust me there is a vinyasa flow for you!
Below are some of the poses that are most used in vinyasa flows, so it is helpful to know and understand them.
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
A foundational and basic starting pose, Mountain Pose, or Tadasana in Sanskrit, is a simple yet powerful place to begin or end your flow. It is also a great pose to return to at any point in your practice.
- Start standing with your feet together or hip-width apart. Starting with your feet together requires a little more balance, so listen to your body.
- Spread awareness through your feet. It may be helpful to rock back and forth from your toes to your heels a few times to find a place that feels balanced.
- Find alignment. Imagine a line from the crown of your head to the base of your spine. Tuck your tailbone up and draw your navel in to align your pelvis.
- Relax your shoulders and allow your arms to hang gently at your sides with your palms facing out or draw your hands together at the heart in “prayer position”.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply for about 8-10 conscious breaths.
2. Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
A pose to refresh and release, a Forward Fold also provides a great stretch in the lower back and hamstrings.
- Start standing in Mountain Pose.
- On an inhale, reach your arms high above your head and bring your palms together.
- On an exhale, hinge at your hips keeping your feet planted firmly on the ground bending forward until your hands reach the ground. (Beginners Tip: It’s ok if your hands don’t reach the ground. Go as far as you comfortably can. Bending your knees slightly will help.)
- Allow your upper body to become very heavy.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
- You should feel a release through your back and a big stretch through the hamstrings.
- To come out of this pose, engage your core and slowly roll through your spine back to a standing position.
3. Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana)
Plank pose, or Kumbhakasana, is a great transition and strengthening pose. It helps tone the abdominal muscles and strengthen the arms and wrists. This pose can be incorporated into a vinyasa flow several times in between other poses.
- Start in a kneeling position with your hands planted on the ground slightly in front of your shoulders.
- Make sure your neck and head are in alignment with your spine (try not to look forward or too far behind you). Your gaze should be straight down between your hands or just slightly in front of your hands.
- Beginners Tip: Keeping your knees on the ground, cross your ankles and lift your feet up. This is a kneeling plank and a great place to start from when working up to a full plank.
- To move into a full plank pose, tuck you toes under and start to shift your weight forward into your arms.
- Lift the knees and bring your hips up so that your body is in alignment from the crown of your head to the backs of your heels.
- Press your hands into the ground, broadening through your upper back.
- Hold this pose for a short time (5-10 seconds).
- You can transition out of this pose by releasing your knees back to the ground or sending your hips up high into Downward Facing Dog pose.
4. Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
One of the most popular and well-known yoga poses, Downward Facing Dog pose is the perfect pose if you’re looking for a good stretch and to feel refreshed.
- Start on your hands and knees.
- Plant your hands firmly into the ground and rotate your arm bones out so that your elbow creases are facing the top of your mat.
- Your knees should be underneath your hips.
- Curl your toes under, press into your hands and feet, and gently peel your hips up toward the sky.
- Beginners Tip: In traditional Downward Facing Dog the heels reach the floor, but it’s ok if yours don’t. Stay on your toes if you need to and pedal your feet to find a good stretch in the hamstrings and calves.
- Let the head hang heavy and the neck be long. You should be looking towards your navel.
- Stay here for 8-10 breaths. The inversion should feel invigorating as the blood-flow travels toward the head.
- To come out of this pose, lower your knees back to the ground or slowly step your feet up to meet your hands in a Forward Fold.
5. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
The Low Lunge combines balance, heart opening, and hip opening all in one pose.
- Start in Downward Facing Dog pose.
- Anchor down through the left heel and lift your right leg up high.
- Then shift your weight forward bringing your right knee toward your nose, eventually stepping all the way through.
- Drop your left knee to the ground.
- Beginners Tip: Imagine your feet are on two separate planes. Your feet shouldn’t be directly in front of one another. This helps in developing balance in your lunges.
- You may keep the left toes curled under or place the top of the foot on the mat.
- With your hands still on the mat (on each side of your right foot), loop your shoulders back and open up through your chest as you gaze forward.
- Breathe deeply for 5-8 breaths. You should be activating through your core to maintain your balance, and feeling a nice stretch through the hips.
- To come out of this pose, plant your palms, curl your left toes under, lift the left knee, then step the right toes back into a plank pose. From here you can either transition to a downward facing dog or lower your knees to the ground.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
6. Child Pose (Balasana)
Balasana is a restorative pose that offers a chance to focus on the breath and invite balance and harmony into your yoga practice.
- Start in a kneeling position with your knees together.
- On an inhale, lengthen up through the spine as you sit up tall.
- On an exhale, slowly start to fold forward resting your chest on the tops of your thighs and bringing your forehead to touch the ground.
- Rest your arms behind you. Your palms will be facing up next to your feet.
- Release any tension and connect to your breath.
- Close your eyes and take 8-10 (or more) breaths in this pose.
7. Easy Seated Pose (Sukhasana)
A very basic, yet important pose, this Easy Seated Pose can be used in the beginning and end of your practice to get yourself centered.
- Sit cross legged on the ground.
- Ground down through the tops of your thighs while sitting up tall with a straight back.
- There are many variations of this pose so find what feels good to you.
- Drawing circles with the nose to loosen up through the neck
- Extending your hands and folding forward until your head touches the mat
- Bringing the hands together at the heart in prayer position
- Sitting in stillness with the eyes closed
8. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
A posture of complete relaxation, Corpse Pose is a great way to end your practice. This is also a perfect posture for meditation.
- Lie down on your back with your legs stretched out long and your arms resting gently by your sides (palms facing up).
- Snuggle your shoulder blades underneath your upper back.
- Close your eyes and start taking full conscious breaths.
- With each exhale, feel the weight of your body getting heavier and heavier.
- Relax the jaw, and all of the muscles in your face.
- Stay in this pose for as long as you’d like.
- Beginners Tip: Ending your yoga practice in Corpse Pose is a great time to sneak in a meditation practice.
Taking the time to practice these foundational yoga poses will help you feel more confident and connected in a Vinyasa Flow. Just remember, listen to your body. Don’t try to push yourself too hard in the beginning. Many of these poses take time to master (even the one that seem the most simple). It’s about the feeling and connection to the pose, not necessarily whether it looks like the front cover of a yoga magazine. I hope this post helps you all decide to take the journey into beginning your own yoga practice…and let me know how it’s going in the comments! Thanks for stopping by!