There are many great reasons to add yoga to your exercise routine. Yoga improves your flexibility, balance, muscle tone, and it helps you relax as well. Everybody can do yoga, even if you feel like your body is not too flexible.

Ready to give yoga a try? Below are the beginner-friendly yoga positions (or asanas) to help you ease into the awesome art of yoga:

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

This pose improves posture, sense of center, mental clarity, and it is also a solid breathing exercise.

How to:

  • Stand tall with feet together, shoulders relaxed, weight evenly distributed through your soles, arms at sides.
  • Take a deep breath and raise your hands overhead, palms facing each other with arms straight. Reach up toward the sky with your fingertips.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho mukha svanasana)

This is one of the most basic and widely-known yoga poses. Done properly and consistently, the most noticeable benefits of this pose include stronger hands, wrists, low-back, hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendon. It also elongates shoulders and shoulder blade area, decreases back pain, tension, and headaches.

How to:

  • Get on all fours with hands and knees shoulder-and-hips-width apart.
  • Walks hands a few inches forward and spread fingers wide, pressing palms into mat.
  • Curl your toes under and carefully press your hips upward so your body looks like an inverted V with your knees slightly bent.
  • You can get a stronger stretch by keeping your heels on the floor.

Warrior Pose (Virabhadrasana)

There are three variations of Warrior pose, and Virabhadrasana is customarily numbered 1. This pose stretches the chest and lungs, shoulders and neck, belly, and groins. It also strengthens the shoulders and arms, the muscles of the back, thighs, calves, and ankles.

How to:

  • Stand with your legs three to four feet apart. Turn out your right foot 90 degrees and your left foot in slightly.
  • Keeping your shoulders down, extend your arms to the sides with your palms down. Lunge into your right knee 90 degrees; keep your knee over your foot and don’t let it go past your toes. Aim your focus over your hand for as long as you like, and then switch sides.

Tree Pose (Vriksasana)

This pose improves your sense of security in the universe. It also improves your balance; strengthen your thighs, calves, ankles and spine.

How to:

  • Take mountain pose. Shift your weight onto your left leg. Keep your hips facing forward.
  • Place the sole of your right foot inside your left thigh and find your balance.
  • Take a prayer position with your hands. You can also reach your arms up as you would in mountain pose. Repeat on the other side.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bhanda)

Bridge pose stretches your chest, neck, and spine while calms the brain and helps alleviate stress and mild depression.

How to:

  • Lie on floor with knees bent and directly over heels.
  • Place arms at sides, palms down. Exhale, then press feet into the floor as you lift hips.
  • Clasp hands under lower back and press arms down, lifting hips until thighs are parallel to the floor, bringing chest toward chin. Hold for 1 minute.

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Trikonasana stretches your body fully, strengthen your thighs, knees, and ankles. It also relieves backache.

How to:

  • Take warrior pose on your right side without lunging into your knee.
  • Touch the inside of your right foot with the outside of your right hand. Reach up to the ceiling with your left hand.
  • Turn your gaze toward and past your left hand to stretch your back. Repeat on the other side.

Seated Twist (Ardha matsyendrasana)

This pose gives you an amazing stretch, especially after long hours sitting. It also works the muscles of your shoulders, hips, and neck.

How to:

  • Sit on the floor and extend your legs. Cross your right foot over the outside of your left thigh. Bend your left knee and keep your knee pointed toward the ceiling.
  • Keep your right hand on the floor behind you to stay stable and place your left elbow to the outside of your right knee. Twist to the right as far as you can, moving from your abdomen.
  • Be sure to keep both sides of your buttocks on the floor. Do this on both sides.

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Cobra opens the chest and strengthens the core body. It also aligns the spine and invigorates the kidneys and nervous system.

How to:

  • Lie on the floor face down with thumbs directly under shoulders, legs extended with the tops of your feet on the floor.
  • Tighten your pelvic floor, and tuck hips downward as you squeeze your glutes.
  • Press shoulders down and away from ears.
  • Push through your thumbs and index fingers as you raise your chest toward the wall in front of you. Relax and repeat.

Pigeon Pose (Eka pada rajakapotasana)

The Pigeon Pose opens the hip joint, lengthens the hip flexor, stretches the thighs, and extends the groin. It also improves posture, alignment, and overall suppleness.

How to:

  • Start in a push-up position, your palms under your shoulders. Place your left knee on the floor near your shoulders with your left heel by your right hip.
  • Press your hands to the floor and sit back with your chest lifted. You can also lower your chest closer to the floor for a stretch. Try it on the other side.

Crow Pose (Bakasana)

This pose strengthens your arms, wrists, and abs. It also helps to tone up the abdominal organs. It takes time and effort to master this pose.

How to:

  • Get into downward dog position (palms pressed into mat, feet hip-width apart) and walk feet forward until knees touch your arms.
  • Bend your elbows, lift heels off floor, and rest knees against the outside of your upper arms. Keep toes on floor, abs engaged and legs pressed against arms. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

This pose lets you relax and breathe into your back, strengthen the hips, thighs, and ankles. Child’s Pose also helps to relieve back and neck pain.

How to:

  • Sit upright comfortably on your heels.
  • Roll your torso forward and bring your forehead to rest on the ground in front of you. Extending your arms forward, lower your chest to your knees as close as you comfortably can.
  • Hold the pose and breathe into your torso. Exhale and release to get deeper into your fold.

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