Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years and is praised as a relaxing yet strengthening activity. If you’re just starting out in yoga, you may feel lost and confused about certain things. If this is the case with you, mastering these basic asanas (another word for pose) will surely benefit your practice. Also keep in mind that deep breathing and relaxing during these poses are key. Don’t push yourself to do something you aren’t ready for, you could get hurt!

10 – Tadasana or Mountain Pose

Tadasana

Tadasana – By Kennguru (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This is the ultimate standing pose to master. It is the base for all balancing poses and it keeps you grounded. You may think you’re just standing, but it’s so much more than that. In order to stand in mountain you must be standing, but pay attention to your feet. Make sure all four corners of your feet are grounded. Keep your arms at your side and reach up through the crown of your head to keep your back straight. If you want to make sure you’re doing it right, close your eyes! If you don’t wobble, your balance is perfect.

09 – Balasana or Child’s Pose

Balasana

Balasana – By Iveto (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This pose is important to remember because if you are struggling with an intermediate to advanced pose, you can always rest in child’s pose. To do this asana, sit back on your heels (as much as you can) and lower your head to the floor. There are multiple variations of this, you can stick your arms out or place them behind you. The important thing is that you are relaxed and breathing deeply.

08 – Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Dog

Downward Dog

Downward Dog

Being new to yoga, you might struggle with this pose at first. But that is perfectly normal! Master the basics of this pose, and you’ll be a downward dog pro in no time. I always begin in plank to make sure my form is perfect. Then you push your hips up to the sky while reaching your heels to the floor and pushing your chest back towards your thighs. You should feel this in your legs all the way through your neck and shoulders.

07 – Bharmanasana or Table-Top Pose

Table Top Pose

Table Top Pose

I’ve mentioned before how you can get to downward dog through plank, but you can get to both plank and downward dog through table-top. You’ll also learn it’s a base point for another pose I’ll mention later on. To get into table-top, get on your hands and knees and flatten your back (keep your spine neutral). Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips.

06 – Bitilasana or Cow pose

Bitilasana

Bitilasana

From table top, you can really get a good spine stretch with this pose and the next one. To get into cow pose, dip your stomach down to the floor and lift your head and heart center up to the sky. You should feel a deep stretch all throughout your torso.

05 – Marjaryasana or Cat pose

Marjaryasana

Marjaryasana

This pose is great for stretching your spine as well and you can transition to it directly from cow pose (or tabletop as well). Curve your back up starting from your tailbone all the way up to your shoulders. Tuck your chin into your chest to really get that perfect arch.

04 – Plank Pose

Plank Pose

Plank Pose

One of the best ways to improve your practice is building core strength. Plank pose is one of the best and simplest ways to do this. You can either begin in tabletop or downward dog to get to plank, just make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders and your core is tight. If this is too strenuous to hold, start on your knees at first (while still tightening that core) then build up to a full plank position.

03 – Vrksasana or Tree Pose

Tree Pose

Tree Pose

This is the most basic balancing pose in yoga. It creates stability within you, especially in the core and leg areas. Begin by standing in mountain. Then take one of your feet and place it either on the side of your shin or the side of your thigh. Do not put it at the side of your knee as this is very bad for that area. Place your hands either at heart’s center or above your head with your palms touching. Keep a tight core to maintain balance along with flexing your quad.

02 – Virabhadrasana II or Warrior II

Virabhadrasana II

Virabhadrasana II – By lululemon athletica (Flickr: Wunder Groove Crop, Warrior II) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This pose may look simple, but if you stand in it for long enough, you’ll feel like you’re putting some work in. You can get into this pose a variety of ways but the simplest way is by starting in mountain, then opening your legs up wide to the side of your mat. Point one foot towards the front of your mat while keeping the other one perpendicular to that foot. Bend your front leg, then stick your arms out at shoulder length and look towards your front hand. Maintain a tight core for a stable foundation.

01 – Savasana or Corpse pose

Corpse pose

Corpse pose – By Robert Bejil (Flickr: For Web (1)) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When you’ve reached the end of your yoga session, it’s important to unwind. Corpse pose is the perfect way to achieve that relaxing, meditative state. Lie back on your mat and relax everything. let your feets hang loose and keep your arms away from your body with your palms facing up. Breathe at a regular pace and try to empty your mind as much as you can. You’ll truly feel a release here if you do it right.

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