10 Most Common Beginner Yoga Poses (And How to Practice Each Pose)

Whether you’ve never practiced yoga a day in your life, or you’ve been practicing for 20 years, it’s important to approach yoga as a humble beginner. Beginners start tasks with an open mind – eager to learn, overflowing with motivation, and high on excitement.

While it’s good to uphold this “beginner’s attitude,” you may also be a “newbie yogi” truly in need of some assistance on where to start. Don’t worry – we’ve got your back!

Beginner yoga is commonly classified as Hatha Yoga, which is used to describe a broad spectrum of practices focusing on gentle, slow, and basic movements.

“Where focus goes, energy flows.” – Tony Robbins

Want to learn more about Hatha Yoga and other yoga disciplines? Read A Beginner’s Guide to Yoga: 14 Yoga Disciplines Defined and Explained

Hatha helps ease the learner into becoming comfortable with yoga. It’s the perfect place for any new yogi to begin. Are you ready for your beginner yoga journey to commence?

Here Are 10 of the Most Common Beginner Yoga Poses to Get You Started (And Well on Your Way):


1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Mountain Pose, known to be one of the most basic yoga poses for beginners, helps you to gain focus and concentration. While embodying this posture, awaken your entire body. Keep in mind that Tadasana is far from simply standing upright.
How to Practice Mountain Pose:

  • Stand straight with your legs slightly apart, feet grounded on the floor
  • Draw your quadriceps upward and your inner thighs toward your midline
  • Engage your core muscles
  • Relax your shoulders
  • Place your arms vertically alongside your body
  • Hold for 10 breaths

Alignment Tips:

  • Keep aligned by holding your legs and back straight
  • Gaze straight out in front of you, with a level chin

Want to learn more about how to start a yoga practice? Check out Beginner Yoga: 4 Simple Steps to Start Your Journey.


2. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Tree Pose is fundamental for beginner yogis as it does an incredible job of helping the user gain both physical and mental stability. Because this beginner yoga pose requires balance, it aids in strengthening the ankles, knees, calves, and abdominals.
How to Practice Tree Pose:

  • From Tadasana, slightly shift your weight to your left foot and bend your right knee
  • Grab your right foot and place the sole of it up high onto your left thigh
  • Straighten your left leg and balance upright
  • Bring your hands together at your heart
  • Press your right foot firmly into your inner thigh while resisting with your outer left leg
  • Hold for 10 breaths
  • Release and switch sides

Alignment Tips:

  • If holding your foot up high on your thigh is uncomfortable, place the sole of your foot on the side of your calf instead (but avoid your knee as this can induce injury)
  • Gaze forward and focus on one object 5 to 10 feet ahead of you


3. Cat/Cow Pose (Chakravakasana)

Cat/Cow Pose, comprised of a combination of Cat Pose and Cow Pose, are common postures that typically follow each other. This slow and controlled back and forth movement is a great beginner yoga pose, as it helps to warm up and loosen both the back and spine.
How to Practice Cat/Cow Pose:

  • Begin on all fours with hands directly below your shoulders, and knees directly below your hips
  • Exhale, curling your back skyward while gently bringing your chin to your chest
  • Hold for one breath
  • Inhale, lower your belly toward the ground while lifting your gaze
  • Hold for one breath
  • Repeat this sequence 3 to 5 times

Alignment Tips:

  • Keep the creases on the front of your wrists parallel to the front line of your mat
  • Balance the left and right side of your body


4. Plank Pose (Phalakasana)

Plank Pose is well known for its ability to strengthen the core muscles, as well as the chest, low back, arms, wrists, and shoulders. With the strength and endurance gained through this posture, beginners will be better prepared for more challenging poses in the future.
How to Practice Plank Pose:

  • Begin on all fours with your wrists directly below your shoulders
  • Lift and straighten your legs until your body forms a straight line
  • Squeeze and hold your abdomen up tightly
  • With your hands spread apart, press your fingertips and palms firmly into the mat
  • Press back through to your feet while keeping your heels lifted
  • Hold for 10 breaths

Alignment Tips:

  • Keep your hips lifted in a firm, neutral position
  • Maintain your ears lifted away from your shoulders and your gaze to the floor


5. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Cobra Pose is a simple, yet extremely effective posture as it both strengthens the core and opens the chest. Because this a relatively gentle stretch, it is often used as an alternative pose to Upward Facing Dog during beginner Vinyasa sequences.
How to Practice Cobra Pose:

  • Begin by lying flat on your stomach
  • Bend your elbows and place your palms on the ground under your shoulders
  • With a neutral neck, pause for one breath
  • Inhale and lift your chest off the mat while keeping your ribs on the floor
  • Extend your elbows half way and roll your shoulders back and down
  • Gently lift your head and gaze straight forward
  • Hold for 3 to 5 breaths

Alignment Tips:

  • Keep your legs engaged while pressing them firmly onto the mat
  • Maintain the length in your neck long to avoid strain
  • If you feel discomfort in your lower back, increase the bend in your elbows by lowering closer to the floor


6. Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Downward Facing Dog Pose is an all-over restorative stretch that’s great for beginners to practice regularly, and more specifically, in between other postures. While primarily stretching the hamstring and calf muscles, this pose also helps to stretch and strengthen the arms and wrists.
How to Practice Downward Facing Dog:

  • Begin on all fours with your hands slightly past your shoulders
  • Press through the outer edges of your palms and push your fingertips into the mat
  • With feet hip-width distance apart, tuck your toes under
  • Engage your core and lift your hips up and back, sending your weight into your legs
  • Press your entire body away from the mat
  • Begin with bent knees to lengthen your spine, then straighten if possible
  • Hold for 10 breaths

Alignment Tips:

  • If your spine is rounding, keep a bend in your legs
  • Gaze toward your toes


7. Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)

Warrior II Pose is a powerful posture that can help yoga beginners increase both their stamina and concentration. It’s a deep hip-opening beginner yoga pose that stretches the legs, groins, and chest, while also strengthening the hamstring, quadricep, calf, glutes, and abdominal muscles.
How to Practice Warrior II Pose:

  • From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot to the inside your right hand
  • Bend your right knee until it’s directly above your right ankle
  • Pivot your left foot and place it parallel to the back edge of your mat
  • Press both feet firmly onto the mat, aligning your left foot’s arch with your right heel
  • Extend your right arm forward and your left arm backward, palms facing down, while keeping both arms parallel to the floor
  • Gaze toward the front of your mat, over your right hand
  • Hold for 10 to 12 breaths
  • Release and switch sides

Alignment Tips:

  • Press your feet firmly into the mat to engage both legs
  • Ensure that your knee never goes past your front ankle
  • Engage your triceps to support your upper body

Want more alignment tips for Warrior II? Check out Common Misalignments in Warrior I and II + How to Fix Them


8. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Triangle Pose is a posture that’s important for all beginner yogis to practice as it’s one of the most encountered standing poses in almost all styles of yoga. Its power lies in its ability to both stretch the hamstrings and open the chest, while strengthening the core.
How to Practice Triangle Pose:

  • From Warrior II, straighten your right leg
  • While keeping your right hip tucked, extend and lower your right hand down to your shin, ankle, or the floor
  • Stack your left shoulder overtop your right shoulder and open your chest
  • Reach your left arm toward the ceiling
  • Turn your gaze up toward your left fingertips
  • Hold for 10 to 12 breaths
  • Release and switch sides

Alignment Tips:

  • Keep a micro-bend in your front knee to prevent hyperextension
  • If you cannot comfortably touch yur shin, ankle, or the floor with your fingertips, place a yoga block under your palm
  • If your neck is strained, gaze toward the floor


9. Seated Spinal Twist Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Seated Spinal Twist Pose is one of the best postures for improving flexibility and mobility in the spine, something all yoga enthusiasts should be mindful of to prevent injury. This pose is also great for stretching the side body and upper back.
How to Practice Seated Spinal Twist Pose:

  • Start out seated with your legs together outstretched in front of you
  • Bend your right knee and place the sole of your right foot on the floor by your left thigh
  • Bend your left knee and tuck the outside of your left foot next to your right seat
  • Hook your left arm over your right knee
  • Twist your torso to the right, pressing your right hand against the floor behind you
  • Without force, take your gaze over your right shoulder
  • Hold for 5 to 8 breaths
  • Release and switch sides

Alignment Tips:

  • Keep your upward bent knee directly pointing toward the ceiling
  • Maintain your spine drawn up tall and long
  • Keep the sole of your foot planted firmly on the mat


10. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Child’s Pose is a simple resting posture that helps to realign the body and reconnect to the breath, making it the perfect pose beginner yoga pose to use in between more challenging postures. It stretches the hips, thighs, and legs while also releasing tension in the back, shoulders, and chest.
How to Practice Child’s Pose:

  • Begin by kneeling on the floor while touching your big toes together
  • Separate your knees hip-width distance apart and sit back gently on your heels
  • Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs
  • Lengthen the back of your neck and rest your forehead on the mat
  • Stretch your arms out in front of you, palms down on the mat
  • Hold for 10 to 12 breaths

Alignment Tips:

  • Keep your arms straight and elbows lifted
  • Push your hips back firmly toward your heels
  • If the stretch is too intense on your knees, place a cushion between your seat and heels


Use These Beginner Yoga Poses to Cultivate a Beginner’s Mind

Whether you’re about to knock out these 10 poses for the first time in your life, or you’ve done them each too many times to count, remember to do so as a humble beginner.

Beginners understand there is no such thing as mistakes – only experiences. So pat yourself on the back when you succeed and pat yourself on the back when you don’t, because as long as you keep trying, it’s impossible for you to fail.

Take this yoga program

Yoga Program
With Leah Sugerman
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Jillian Halliday

Jill Halliday is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and Registered Holistic Nutrition Practitioner helping others find sustainable nourishment! When not working her administrative position or 1:1 with nutrition clients, you can find her enjoying time with her family or getting in a sweat in the gym/on the mat!


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