Top 7 must-do yoga asanas for beginners

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.

Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)

Pose type: Standing

Standing forward bends like pyramid is a good time to break out your yoga blocks to make the pose more accessible. Place a block on either side of your front foot to "raise the floor" to a level where your hands can comfortably reach. Your hamstrings will still enjoy a nice stretch and they'll thank you for your consideration.

Raised Hands Pose (Urdhva Hastasana)

Pose type: Standing

Built upon the foundation of mountain pose, urdhva hastasana requires you to continue to root into the ground with your legs while reaching for the sky with your arms. The result is a full body stretch, a great way to usher in the physical part of your yoga session.

Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Pose type: Seated

There are a lot of hamstring stretches in beginning yoga for good reason. The hamstrings tend to get short and tight in people who sit a lot, which can contribute to low back pain. Stretching them, as you do during the seated forward bend, is helpful. This pose offers a stretch to the entire back of the body. Bend at your hips, not your waist, and keep your neck aligned with your spine.

Seated Wide Angle Straddle (Upavishta Konasana)

Pose type: Seated

Opening your legs wide creates a slightly different stretch from paschimottanasana. Though it may look like the mandate is to bring your chest to the floor, it's really not about that. Rather, concentrate on keeping your back flat, rotating the pelvis forward instead of crunching forward through your spine, and keeping your feet flexed. If you do all three of these things, it really doesn't matter how far forward you lean.

Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

Pose type: Supine

A passive twist is a classic way to end a yoga session, although there's no hard rule against doing this pose at the beginning of your practice. The position of the legs is up to you. You can bend them both, you can straighten the top leg and hold onto your foot if you have the flexibility, or you can twist the legs around one another (as in eagle pose) to stretch the outer hips. Keep knees in line with waist.

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Pose type: Standing/Balancing

Tree pose is a good introduction to balancing postures. If you feel yourself beginning to topple, you can step out of it easily. Try not to create a counterbalance by jutting your hip out to the side on your standing leg. Focus your gaze on a spot on the floor, and try varying foot positions to see what works for you: Heel resting low on ankle, on a block, or above or below the knee.

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