Yoga can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. It’s natural to be concerned about not being flexible enough, in good enough shape, or even looking silly.
But yoga is more than just those crazy arm-balancing, pretzel poses that are all over social media. It can be simple to get started and then progress to more advanced poses.
Whether you want to learn some basic moves before taking a class, get some pointers on where to start with an at-home practice, or learn a few poses to improve flexibility, this sequence can help.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
This pose looks easy, because it’s basically just standing. But the way you stand in Tadasana sets up for all other poses and inverted positions. If done actively, your torso is engaged while strengthening your legs to ground yourself which can be great for confidence or easing anxiety!
- Place your big toes barely touching and your heels slightly apart. Examine your stance by seeing if your second toes are parallel.
- Press your big toe, little toe, right side heel, and left side heel into the four corners of your feet. Feel how pushing into your feet engages your entire leg and keeps those muscles active.
- Take a deep breath and roll your shoulders up and back, releasing them down, so that your shoulder blades rest against each other and your neck is long.
- Take a few deep breaths at this point. If you want, you can close your eyes.
Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Take a deep breath when you’re ready to move on.
- Lift your arms to the sides and up, over your head, as you inhale.
- Exhale and fold your torso over your legs, releasing your arms (either in front of your body or out to the side, like a swan dive). Have at least a slight bend in your knees the first time through. No matter how flexible you are, your hamstrings will be cold when you begin, so be gentle with them.
- As you relax into the pose more, start straightening your legs as far as it feels comfortable. Anything that pinches or causes a shooting pain should be stopped immediately. Allow gravity to do its thing here; don’t pull yourself down and try to force the fold.
- You can place your hands on your shins and feet.
Plank Pose (Uttihita Chaturanga Dandasana)
This is a very active pose that works all of your front body muscles.
- From the Forward Fold, place your hands flat on the floor, bending your knees as needed. Step one leg back at a time until you’re in a high Plank Pose.
- Pull your belly button toward your spine by pressing into your hands, keeping your legs parallel and engaged.
- Take a few deep breaths here, concentrating on your core and arms.
It’s easy to sag a little too far and develop “banana back” or hunch your shoulders. As a beginner, a good way to figure out this pose is to have a friend look at the shape you’re making from the side.
From your hands on the floor to your hips, your upper body should be relatively straight, with some curves due to natural spine curves.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This pose lengthens the spine, stretches the back leg muscles, and aids digestion. Because it is a mild inversion, it can help with headaches and calm the nervous system.
- On the inhale, push into your hands and lift your hips up and back from Plank Pose. One of the most difficult aspects of this pose is maintaining a neutral spine while keeping your shoulders engaged but not overworked.
- Your legs should be straight, and your heels should be pointing toward the floor. There will almost certainly be some space between your heels and the ground. You could be very flexible, but if your legs are a little long, you won’t be able to get your heels all the way to the floor. That’s all right. Maintain an active stance with your legs and heels reaching for the ground.
- When performing this pose for the first time, pedal out your feet a little to warm up your leg muscles.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This is a good pose to come to in any yoga class if you want to rest and reset your nervous system.
- Take a deep breath in Downward-Facing Dog. Exhale by lowering your knees to the floor, drawing your hips back to your heels, and resting your forehead on the floor.
- You can either keep your arms stretched out in front of you or pull them close to your body, palms up near your feet.
- Because this is a restorative pose, adjust it to your specific needs. If you want to widen your knees a little, go ahead and do so. This pose, like all forward folds, is nurturing. It massages your internal organs while relaxing your spine, shoulders, and neck.
Do You Need a Yoga Class That’s Perfect for Beginners?
Yoga is a wonderful way to get in shape and learn about your body. It’s also great for relieving stress! Our Non-Heated Flow 1-2 classes provide the basics of vinyasa yoga, which are designed specifically for beginners at this practice or those who have just begun their exploration into it. These slower-paced classes break down poses so you can really explore them with all new challenges and modifications. If you feel yourself struggling during class don’t worry – keep working on what’s possible until such time as fatigue levels off enough that more challenging postures become possible again. If you’re looking to start practicing yoga but aren’t sure where to begin, our non-heated flow series will be right up your alley. Book your first class now at one of our San Francisco locations or our new location in downtown Walnut Creek!