Basic Yoga Poses

Beth Asaff
Chair pose

Chair Pose

Understanding a few basic yoga poses, or asanas, will help you develop an appreciation for the practice. You can begin your yoga session with the Chair Pose. From a standing position, sink down into your heels into Chair Pose. Make sure your knees don't go over your toes. When you rise up on an inhale, sweep your arms overhead and repeat. With every posture, move on the breath.

Mountain pose

Mountain Pose

Mountain pose is a centering pose done at the beginning and end of many sequences. Stand with your feet together and your legs straight. Rotate your thighs inward and draw up through your legs, core and spine to the top of your head. Place your hands at your sides, palms facing forward and fingers active.

Wide-legged forward fold

Wide-Legged Forward Bend

Forward folds help loosen the hamstrings, while placing your head below your heart. The wide-legged version can be easier for beginners. Make sure your knees and toes point straight ahead. Bend down with your heart, not your head until your fingers touch the ground. Relax and allow your head to drop.

Staff pose

Staff Pose

Staff pose is a seated forward fold. Sit up tall with your legs extended in front of you and your feet flexed. Raise your arms above your head and bend forward from the heart until you reach as far as you are able. Relex your head and neck into the pose. This pose is perfect for stretching the hamstrings.

Warrior I

Warrior I

Warrior I is first of the poses in the Warrior series. Step one foot forward, toes pointing straight ahead, with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Turn the toes of your back foot out 45 degreese and straighten the leg. Square your hips forward, and as you inhale, drop your shoulders back and raise your arms overhead.

Warrior II

Warrior II

This is the second pose of the Warrior series and typically follows directly from Warrior I. Turn your back foot out 90 degrees and lengthen your stance making sure your back leg is straight. Bend your front knee and open your arms up, one facing the front of the room and one facing the back. Look straight ahead, gazing over your front fingers.

High plank

High Plank

High plank is a great arm and core strengthener. It can be preformed with legs straight or knees on the ground. Place your hands on the floor shoulder width apart and rotate your biceps forward. Make sure your wrists align under elbows and elbows under shoulders. Step back so your hips are lower than your shoulders and your heels press away toward the back of the room.

Low plank

Low Plank/Chatarunga

Low plank, or Chatarunga, is a transition pose from high plank to cobra and downward facing dog. From high plank, look forward, come forward slightly onto the tips of your toes and lower down so your arms flex 90 degrees and stay close to your sides.

Downward facing dog

Downward Facing Dog Pose

Downward facing dog is a resting pose. Place your hands shoulder width apart, elbows straight. Step back with your feet hip distance apart and pull your hips back and up into the air. Sink your heels toward the earth.

Seated spinal twist

Seated Spinal Twist

Twists are medicinal, wringing toxins from the system. Sit with one leg bent in toward your groin and step the opposite leg to the outside. Twist in the direction of the upper leg, using one arm as a lever to deepen the twist while the other reaches behind you.

Lotus pose

Lotus Pose

This centering asana calms the mind and relaxes the body. Bend one leg in toward the groin. Bend the second leg in, pick up the foot and place it on top of the opposite thigh. Grasp the ankle of the first foot, and lift it up and onto the opposite thigh. Place your hands in namaste, or leave them open and facing up on your thighs.

Hero pose

Hero

Hero is a resting pose that stretches the quads and strengthens the knees. Kneel with your knees together and feet apart. Lower yourself down between your heels. If this is uncomfortable, place a block between your heels to sit on.

Child's pose

Child's Pose

Child's pose is a resting pose that can be done between other poses, or to recover from more difficult poses. Kneel down with your knees together or apart and feet together. Sink your hips back to your heels and lower your forehead down to the ground. Stretch your arms out in front of you.

Learn this and other beginner poses before moving on to more challenging ones.

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Basic Yoga Poses