The easiest yoga poses for beginners, recommended by experts
Want to start practising yoga but don’t know where to start? We spoke to the experts to find out which yoga poses are best for beginners.
Across the UK, millions of people are practising yoga, and a study from the comparison app Finder found that over 400,000 people have decided to incorporate it into their weekly routines. They are often driven by the same goals of becoming fitter, more flexible, more relaxed, and stronger in mind and body.
If you want to join them, it can be difficult to know how to start. There are hundreds of postures and poses to get your head around, but which ones are best for beginners? Well, the good news is we’ve spoken to two leading yoga experts to create this guide to some of the best easy yoga poses for beginners.
It’s made especially for those starting their yoga journey to kickstart you on the road to becoming a yogi (someone who practises yoga). With the expertise of our two experienced yoga teachers, let us guide you through some easy poses to start with.
Our yoga experts
To help beginners become more confident at trying out yoga and sticking with the practice, we’ve got the help of two yoga teachers. They both have years of experience guiding yogis through the ancient practice and shared their tips with us at The Recommended.
Our first expert is author and yoga teacher Eloise Skinner. Eloise has a breadth of experience teaching yoga and expertise in pilates, ballet, meditation, and mindfulness. As well as being a successful yoga teacher Eloise has given a TEDx Talk and spoken publicly on multiple occasions about yoga, meaning, purpose, and well-being.
Our second expert is Laura Seddon, who is one of the four founders of Udaya Wellness. She helps the team weave together the divine energies of yoga, spirituality and holistic wellness to create a sacred space for self-exploration and transformation. Laura is a seasoned yoga teacher and mindfulness expert who guides yogis on an inward journey through her classes.
Best yoga poses for beginners
Our two experts have recommended eight of the best exercises for beginners to start their yoga journey. Each pose is suggested to help build a foundation of core exercises and movements, which can act as a base for ongoing learning in yoga. Here are Eloise and Laura’s eight favourites with easy-to-follow steps:
Laura explains that child pose is one of the foundations of yoga and is a great first position to master. It helps stretch the back, shoulders and quads. She explains how to do it:
- Kneel on the floor with your toes together and your knees hip-width apart.
- Rest your palms on top of your thighs.
- On an exhale, lower your torso between your knees.
- Lengthen your arms out in front of you, walking your fingers away from the body with your palms facing down.
- Relax your shoulders toward the ground. Rest in the pose for as long as needed.
Cat and cow
Both Eloise and Laura suggested the cat and cow pose as one which beginners should be practising. This involves switching between two poses to stretch and flex the chest, shoulders and spine, as Laura explained:
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- Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, hands facing forwards, and your knees directly under your hips, hip-width distance apart.
- Begin by moving into Cow Pose: Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat.
- Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling.
- Broaden across your shoulder blades and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
- Next, move into Cat Pose: As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling.
- The pose should look like a cat stretching its back. Repeat.
A staple of the yoga world, the downward dog is one of the most famous poses in yoga. Again, both experts praised this pose as essential for beginners to get the hang of yoga and stretch their hamstrings and upper body. They explained how to do it:
- Come to your hands and knees in a table tops position with your wrists underneath the shoulders and your knees underneath the hips.
- Curl your toes under and push back through your hands to lift your hips and straighten your legs.
- Outwardly rotate your upper arms to broaden the collarbones.
- Let your head hang and move your shoulder blades away from your ears towards your hips.
- Engage your quadriceps strongly to take the burden of your body's weight off your arms.
- Rotate your thighs inward, keep your tail high, and sink your heels towards the floor.
The mountain pose is great for beginners and often used as a foundational pose in yoga sequences. This means from mountain pose, you can move on to do harder poses. Here’s how to do it:
- Stand tall at the top of your yoga mat with your feet together or hip-width apart.
- Distribute your weight evenly on both feet.
- Let your arms hang naturally by your sides with your palms facing forward and relax your shoulders and lengthen your neck.
- Engage your leg muscles by lifting your kneecaps slightly.
- Keep a gentle bend in your knees to avoid locking them.
- Draw your tailbone down towards the floor, engaging your lower abdominal muscles and maintaining a neutral pelvis.
- Lengthen your spine upward, imagining a string pulling the crown of your head towards the ceiling.
- Maintain a natural curve in your spine without exaggerating the arch and hold.
- Reach up and stretch your hands.
The table top pose is excellent for building core strength, improving balance, and stretching the body. Here’s how to do it:
- Start by positioning yourself on all fours on your yoga mat and align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, fingers spread wide for stability.
- Ensure that your knees are hip-width apart and your feet are aligned with your knees.
- Relax your toes and the tops of your feet, allowing them to rest comfortably on the mat.
- Keep your gaze down towards the mat, maintaining a neutral neck position.
- As you find stability in this position, extend one leg straight back behind you, parallel to the floor.
- Extend the opposite arm forward at the same time, parallel to the floor, with your palm facing down and keep your arm aligned with your shoulder.
- Balance and hold the pose, keeping your body parallel to the floor like a table top.
Laura suggested the puppy pose because it opens the shoulders and chest, releasing tension in the neck and spine. It is a great pose for beginners to try once they have learnt the table tops position. Here’s how to do it:
- Come into the table tops position.
- Start walking your hands out in front of you, pushing your hips back and up.
- Trying to bring your chest and chin as close to the ground as possible.
- Reach through your fingertips and draw your hips back to feel a nice long stretch in the arms, shoulders, spine and abs.
- Stay in the pose for a few minutes, breathing in and out through your nose.
Classic pigeon pose
Laura suggested this pose because it eases back pain and relieves stress stored in the hips. Great for beginners doing yoga alongside other sports and have mastered the downward dog. How to do the pigeon pose:
- Starting in downward dog, raise your right leg off the ground and bring your right knee to the back of your right wrist.
- Then, rotate your right shin so that it’s parallel to the front of your mat.
- Bring your right foot to your left ankle.
- As you bring your right leg to the mat, keep your left leg straight as it reaches the ground.
- Gently lower your right buttocks towards the ground, but ensure you keep your weight equally distributed between both hips.
- If this is too difficult, place a block underneath your right buttocks.
- Place both hands under your shoulders and gently press into the palms of your hands to straighten and elongate your spine.
- Look straight forward and feel the stretch.
Although the name sounds menacing, Laura says the cobra pose is a great one to give a go as it opens the throat and stretches the abs. Here’s how to do it:
- Start laying on your belly and place your palms flat on the ground directly under your shoulders.
- Bend your elbows straight back and hug them into your sides.
- Pause for a moment looking straight down at your mat with your neck in a neutral position. Anchor your pubic bone to the floor and inhale to lift your chest off the floor.
- Roll your shoulders back and keep your low ribs on the floor, making sure your elbows continue hugging your sides.
- Don't let them wing out to either side, and make sure to keep your neck neutral.
- Your gaze should stay in front of you. And breath.
Want to learn more about yoga and see some more expert led reviews and guides? Head over to The Recommended's fitness section. Here you can see The best yoga mats as recommended by experts, Yoga vs Pilates, and The best full body workouts to perform at home.
Finn Byrne is a Digital Writer for Immediate Media. He works across several brands including The Recommended, RadioTimes.com, MadeforMums and BBC Gardeners’ World. Finn has previously written for publications including MyLondon, The Mirror, The Express, and The Star. When not writing Finn enjoys spending time on the football pitch and getting stuck into a book.