Basic Yoga Exercises for Beginners

Basic Beginners Yoga Routine

Prior to beginning any yoga routine, it is vital to prepare the body as well as the environment. It is best to practice yoga on an empty stomach. Clothing should be loose and comfortable. The area should be quiet with no distractions. Music may be played, but it should be calming and wordless. Nature sounds are excellent choices. The temperature of the room should be mild.

​Yoga is best practiced in the early morning. The deep breathing techniques that accompany yoga allow for better concentration and clearer thinking. This makes the workday more productive. Likewise, even the simplest yoga poses encourage circulation, which gives the body a feeling of rejuvenation.

​Easy Pose


​Sit on the floor with shoulders back and spine held upright. Sit as though a string were lifting your head to the ceiling, keeping your pelvis, back, neck, and head in a perfect line. Cross your shins, placing each ankle beneath the shin of the opposite leg. Allow your knees to naturally drop to the floor. Allow your palms to rest on your knees, or hold them in prayer position, or Anjali Mudra. Breathe deeply and comfortably, allowing the mind to rest.

​Lotus Pose


As with Easy Pose/Sukhasana, sit on the floor with your spine upright. Keep your hips beneath your head, valuing the importance of a straight line that begins with the crown of your head and ends with your tailbone. Fold your legs so that each ankle rests on the thighs of the opposite leg. This pose requires flexibility. New yoga practitioners may prefer to hold Lotus Pose/Padmasana for only brief periods of time until the body can become accustomed to bending in this way.

​Cat Pose


​Place hands and knees on the floor parallel to each other. Hands should be directly beneath the shoulders. Knees should be directly below the hip bones. Holding your spine straight from tailbone to head, slowly exhale. While exhaling, curve the center your spine upward to the ceiling while dropping your head and pelvis into a C shape. Inhale and straighten your back or combine with Cow Pose/Bitilasana.

​Cow Pose


​Start in the same neutral position as Cat Pose/Marjaryasana. On inhale, drop the center of your spine to the floor while lifting your head and pelvis to the ceiling. Exhale and return to neutral or combine with Cat Pose/Marjaryasana.

Downward-Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana​

​Start in tabletop position with hands and knees firmly on the floor. Lift your ankles, letting your toes touch the floor. Slowly lift your pelvis upward, pulling your knees off the ground and resting your weight on the balls of your feet as you rise. Exhale and straighten your legs, keeping knees soft. Fingers should maintain contact with the floor at all times, creating a triangle.

​Child’s Pose


​Kneel on the floor with your buttocks pressed firmly into your heels. Separate your thighs slightly so that they are about hip-width apart. Lie down on the floor in front of you by placing your torso between your thighs and stretching your arms on the floor in front of you. Allow your head to rest on the floor, but continue to stretch your spine while resting.

​Mountain Pose


​Stand with your feet nearly parallel and toes touching. Allow your leg muscles to stiffen slightly. Lengthen your spine: Imagine a weight is held to your tailbone and a string is pulling the top of your head. Concentrate on your breathing, allowing your body to feel stronger with each inhale and exhale.

​Tree Pose


​Begin in Mountain Pose/Tadasana Spread the toes of your left foot as much as possible, shifting weight to your inner foot in order to maintain balance. Lift your right leg, bending at the knee. Place your ankle into the fold of your left thigh, toes facing downward. Hold hands in prayer.

​Warrior I


​Begin in Mountain Pose/Tadasana. Inhale deeply, and then exhale while moving feet as far apart as comfortable, or about four feet. Inhale and raise arms to the side, parallel to the floor. Turn your left foot in slightly, while turning your right foot out 90 degrees. Turn your torso to the right and lift arms above your head. Exhale and bend your right knee. You may look ahead or to your clasped hands.

​Warrior II


​As with Warrior I/Virabhadrasana, begin in Tadasana. Move feet four feet apart while exhaling. Position your feet as in Warrior I/Virabhadrasana, inhale, and bend the right knee. Lift your arms so they are parallel to the floor. Without turning your torso, look over your right arm.

​Corpse Pose


​Lie on your back in a neutral position. Feel your body relaxing into the floor. Allow your bones, muscles, and organs to release all stress. Corpse Pose/Shavasana is the ideal way to end every yoga routine.

Yoga Classes

There are many different ways to enjoy yoga. The one you choose is entirely dependent upon your personal preference. Most fitness centers offer yoga classes in a variety of skill levels. Community recreation centers may have yoga as well. These are sometimes included with the cost of a base membership, though they may also incur an additional fee.

​Yoga centers are becoming commonplace in even smaller communities. These spots focus entirely on yoga, which can offer a great benefit for the first-timer. There are often many types of yoga, including those for seniors, advances yogis, and “hot” yoga, which is meant to detoxify the body and aid in weight loss.

​Some yoga practitioners prefer a more intimate environment. Some yoga instructors offer private instruction to small groups or individuals. This instruction may take place in your home or a public area, such as a park, beach, or nature reserve. However, most instructors prefer to practice inside in order to avoid distractions.

Yoga Terms​

Because yoga originated in India, many of the words used are unfamiliar. The quick guide will help the first-time yoga practitioner to learn the most commonly used terms. This list is by no means complete but is a good first resource.

  • Asana: Yoga pose
  • Ayurveda: Ancient, holistic healing method
  • Chakra: Energy center
  • Drishti: A focal point used for meditation
  • Mantra: A repeated sound or phrase used in meditation
  • Namaste: A greeting meaning
  • Pranayama: Breathing exercise
  • Shavasana: Corpse pose; final relaxation
  • Surya Namaskar: Sun Salutations
  • Yama: The five principles of yoga
  • Yogi/Yogini: A yoga practitioner
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