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Beginners' Yoga Pose Library

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Updated July 30, 2014

Half Forward Bend - Ardha Uttanasana

Half Forward Bend - Ardha Uttanasana

© Ann Pizer
Beginners' Yoga Pose Library

Downward Facing Dog - Adho Muhka Svanasana

© Ann Pizer
Staff Pose - Dandasana

Staff Pose - Dandasana

© Ann Pizer

So Many Yoga Poses, So Much Time

As a beginning yoga student, don't feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of yoga poses. Hopefully, your practice will be a lifelong pursuit, giving you plenty of time to learn scores of postures. As your practice progresses, you will feel comfortable taking on more challenging poses, but when you are just starting out, keep things simple. Below (in both English and Sanskrit), are the poses that are most appropriate for new yoga students. Follow the links to find the full, illustrated instructions for each pose. If you just want to hit the highlights, check out our top ten essential poses for beginners.

Standing Poses

Standing pose are usually the most strenuous for beginners. They are often done first in a yoga class to build heat. In vinyasa/flow style yoga, standing poses are strung together to form long sequences. In hatha classes, the standing poses may be worked on individually with rest between each pose.

Balancing Poses

These beginners' balances are an important way to build the core strength that is necessary for many of yoga's more advanced postures. Though balances may seem difficult at first, you will find that you can improve markedly with regular practice.

Backbends

Backbends can be some of the most uncomfortable poses for beginners, so we usually start with some gentle flexion and extension of the spine as an introduction. Since we rarely move like this in daily life, backbends are essential for spinal health and longevity.

Seated Poses

Seated stretches are often done towards the end of a yoga class after the body is warmed up. The following poses stretch the hips and hamstrings. Placing a folded blanket or block under your butt is a good way to make yourself more comfortable in these postures.

Resting/Supine Poses

It's important to get to know your resting poses, especially child's pose, which you are encouraged to do whenever you need a break during a yoga session. These supine poses continue the hip and hamstring work of the seated poses above, as well as gentle backbending, twisting and inversion.
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