The most popular yoga asanas for beginners

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Easy Pose (Sukhasana)

Pose type: Seated

Sitting cross-legged doesn't have to be a scary position. The judicious use of props can transform an uncomfortable position into one of ease so you can begin to reverse the effects of too much chair sitting. For solutions, learn how to get comfortable sitting cross-legged.

Garland Pose (Malasana)

Pose type: Standing

Squatting isn't something familiar to most 21st century humans. However, it's an excellent stretch for the muscles around the pelvis, making it what is often called a "hip opener" in yoga. Perhaps surprisingly, it's also good for your feet, which are often neglected. If squatting is difficult for you, props can help: Try sitting on a block or rolling a towel or blanket under the heels. Keep reaching heels down toward the floor.

Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana)

Pose type: Standing

This flat back forward bend is most often done as part of the sun salutation sequence. As such, it's often rushed, but it's worth it to take the time to work on it independently. Figuring out when your back is actually flat is part of developing body awareness.

At first, it's helpful to glance in the mirror. You may find you need to let your hands come off the ground and onto your legs as high as is necessary to keep the back really flat. Gently bend knees as needed, too.

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose - Ardha Matsyendrasana

Pose type: Seated

Twists are an essential part of yoga. They help improve spinal mobility and can even get things moving along your digestive tract (yes, twists can help with constipation). It's fine to extend your bottom leg in this pose if it's uncomfortable to have it bent behind you. You can also modify by sitting on a blanket. Placing the bent leg on the inside of the extended leg is great for ease in shoulder, hip and spine rotation.

Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)

Pose type: Supine

Happy baby is a wonderful way to finish a yoga session. It's also a good example of the important interplay between effort and ease in yoga. You want to exert a little pressure on your feet to draw them toward your armpits, but not so much that your tailbone lifts off the floor. You don't want to go to extremes but rather to find the middle ground.

Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)

Pose type: Seated

Forward bends can be hard for anyone with tight hamstrings (i.e., a lot of people). Janu ​sirsasana is more accessible because you're stretching one leg at a time.​​​​​​​​​​​​​ You can also use a strap around the foot to help extend your reach.

Knees, Chest, and Chin (Ashtanga Namaskara)

Pose type: Backbend

This was once the posture taught to all beginning yoga students as an alternative to and preparation for chaturanga dandasana. In recent years, it's fallen out of favor. As a result, some students are rushed into chaturanga before they are ready. It really belongs in the sun salutation series for beginners. Plus it's also a great warmup for deeper backbends.

Low Lunge Position

Pose type: Standing

The alignment of your lunge is super important. Try to make a right angle with your front leg so that your knee is directly over your ankle and your thigh is parallel to the floor. At the same time, keep your hips level and energize your back leg. A lot of people don't go deep enough into the front leg and then sag in the back leg. Glance in the mirror to make sure you're getting it right. To modify, place your hands on blocks, and/or lower your back leg to the mat (with a blanket or towel as needed for cushioning).

Plank Pose

Pose type: Balancing

It might seem strange to call plank at balancing pose since the risk of falling over is pretty minimal, but it gets to the heart of what this pose is about—core strength. A strong core is essential for so many yoga poses, including standing balances, arm balances, and plank is an excellent way to on work your stability and stamina. Aim to keep hips and spine in a neutral position.

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