20 Must-Know Simple Yoga Poses for Beginners

With so many different yoga poses to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start, so here are our top twenty must-know beginner-friendly poses.

Starting yoga can be a little intimidating as a beginner. Where to begin and which poses to choose?

You may have concerns surrounding which positions are suitable for your body and how you can get started at home without attending a yoga class.

But it needn’t be complicated. Here we outline the twenty most important yoga poses for a beginner, including what they are suitable for and how you can do them at home today.


Types Of Poses

Yoga poses can be categorized into different groups based on how and where they are performed.

Here is a selection of the key posture types that you need to know about to create a well-rounded practice at home.

Standing Poses

Standing poses are as straightforward as they sound. They are conducted by standing on your mat, and they may begin in a core foundational yoga pose known as Tadasana in Sanskrit or Mountain Pose in English.

Standing postures can be static, or they may flow from one to another, such as in styles like vinyasa.

You may also transition from standing positions into other types of poses as part of a sun salutation sequence- a flowing movement through a series of set poses.

Balancing Poses

Balancing positions are often practiced from standing, but not always. They are designed to build your strength and stability while promoting a mental focus.

Many yoga teachers encourage you to use a visual focus point during a balancing position. This is known as a Drishti and can help you, as a newbie, maintain your balance.


Backbends may be performed from standing, sitting, kneeling, or even lying down, so expect to encounter various backbend poses during your progress.

Backbends can seem daunting poses for beginners, but several gentle variations still have a host of health benefits.

The act of introducing these positions into your yoga routine can increase your mobility, activate your abs and provide you with a great stretch after a day of sitting.

Seated Poses

You can select different postures from a seated position, including a twist or a forward bend.

You will also come to sit in a comfortable seated pose to begin and end your class, either in a simple cross-legged shape or as you progress in your yoga practice, in a half lotus.

Seated poses are also used to practice meditation, mindfulness, and a withdrawal of the senses, known as pratyahara.

Resting or Supine Poses

Learning to relax and release your body via resting or supine poses is a huge part of any class.

These gentle postures, often using blocks and a blanket for support can help you reduce stress, clear your mind, and improve your health in a similar way to a forward bend.

The pinnacle of these supine postures is the corpse pose, which encourages you to practice the vital art of letting go, but you may try a twist too.

1. Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Pose Type: Standing

Adho Mukha Svanasana, or “down dog” as it is often called, is one of the most popular yoga postures in the world. It comes with many benefits, mainly when used as part of sun salutations.

The downward-facing dog is a gentle inversion, making it refreshing and circulation-boosting. It also stimulates your abs and lengthens out your spine, providing a much-needed stretch.

How To:

  • Start on all fours with your wrists under shoulders, knees under hips, and rest on the back of your toes.
  • As you breathe out, push your hips up towards the ceiling before lowering your heels towards the floor.
  • Keeping your weight spread evenly through your hands, internally rotate your shoulders, and try straightening your legs.
  • You can keep a slight bend in your knees for an easy variation, and try to relax your neck and head by tucking in your chin.

2. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Pose Type: Standing

With mountain posture, you can benefit from improved body awareness, correct posture, and a lengthened spine.

The effort required to stack your joints, engage your core, and activate your legs requires energy and helps to stabilize and strengthen your body as a whole.

Many yoga practitioners also use the mountain pose as an opportunity for a mindful pause between moves.

How To: 

  • Stand on your mat with your big toes touching.
  • Rooting down with your toes, find length with your legs while tucking your tail bone under.
  • Lightly draw your belly into your spine and elongate the top of your head up to the ceiling.
  • Relax your shoulders and look straight ahead with your arms by your sides- you can close your eyes to help you focus.

3. Crescent Lunge (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana)

Pose Type: Backbend

With a crescent lunge, you get a valuable stretch in your hip flexors, which can become tight through sitting or exercise. It is also a chest opener that helps you to bring attention to your shoulder and torso.

This low lunge is energizing, and by repeating the pose, you will also experience an increase in flexibility over time.

How To:

  • From a low lunge, gently lower your back knee to the floor.
  • Rest your hand on your front leg and check your front knee is directly over your ankle.
  • On an in-breath, reach your arms straight up overhead.
  • Gently push your hips forward to deepen the backend while engaging your core and keep breathing deep.

4. Cobbler’s Pose (Baddha Konasana)

Pose Type: Seated

This hip-based stretch also targets your inner thighs and knees, making it an excellent post-workout pose.

One of the purposes of this position is to open out your tight hips, but it can also reduce pelvic discomfort and increase circulation to the abdominal organs.

Suppose your sole aim of yoga is to increase flexibility. In that case, this is an excellent place to start, as it is one of the critical beginner yoga poses for increasing range of movement in the beginning.

How To:

  • From a seated position, draw the soles of your feet together and hold the outside of your feet with your hands.
  • Keeping your spine straight and your shoulders relaxed while beginning to drop your knees to the floor.
  • The closer your feet are to the groin, the stronger the stretch. Use yoga blocks under hips for a modification.

5. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Pose Type: Seated

Taking a child’s pose allows you a chance to rest and restore, making it one of the essential yoga poses for beginners.

As well as the psychological benefits of increased relaxation and mental rest, a child’s pose also provides you with a stretch for your hips and thighs and eases lower back pain while improving your circulation.

How To:

  • Start kneeling on your mat with your knees hip-width apart.
  • On an exhale, drop your hips back to your heels and fold your upper body to the floor.
  • Lengthen your arms and draw your shoulders away from your ears
  • Take deep breaths and relax.

6. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)

Pose Type: Standing

Warrior I is a strong standing pose. It is excellent at building strength and can benefit everyone with a sedentary job.

Many yogis enjoy the feeling of inner resilience this warrior position can create.

This position is a perfect balance of strength and stretch, as it activates everything from your arms to your ankles. It can also help you hone your mental focus by requiring you to keep a stable and robust foundation.

How To:

  • From standing, step your front foot forward around 4 feet and then turn your left foot slightly to the side.
  • Bend your front knee directly over the ankle and lift your arms straight up over your head.
  • If it is comfortable for your neck, turn to look up towards your hands. Otherwise, just keep looking forward.

7. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Pose Type: Standing

Practicing regularly warrior ii will soon build your stamina and cultivate both more outstanding balance and stability.

Another beneficial aspect of this pose is that it is naturally energizing and stimulates your internal organs.

It is safe for everyone to practice, though, and it can even be used to remedy backache during pregnancy.

How To:

  • From standing, step your right foot forward around 4 feet and then turn your left foot slightly to the side.
  • Bend your right knee directly over the ankle, then lift your arms to shoulder height.
  • Look forward towards the middle finger of your front hand and stay strong in the legs.

8. Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parvakonasana)

Pose Type: Standing

Like the warrior yoga poses, an extended side angle is excellent for building stamina, as it requires both activation and continuous engagement of the thighs and surrounding muscles.

It is frequently practiced as part of hatha yoga, and many classes will teach yoga students this pose to improve their alignment.

It affects circulation positively, and the angle of your outstretched arm can also enhance the health of your shoulder.

How To:

  • Step your feet into a wide leg stance before turning your front foot to the right and your left foot slightly inwards.
  • Bend your front knee so it is directly over your heel, and then inhale as you lift your top arm overhead, creating a straight line from your shoulder to your wrist.
  • You can rest your other arm on your front thigh and feel the heat rising in your body as you hold the pose.

9. Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)

Pose Type: Standing

The triangle pose stimulates the abdominal organs for better digestive health while gently stretching out the hips, groin, shoulders, chest, and spine. It is an excellent antidote to too much time spent sitting in a chair.

Other effects of this pose include reducing back pain, whether pregnancy-related or otherwise, and activation of the leg muscles.

Many students also enjoy the sense of mental balance this pose can bring.

How To:

  • Moving from mountain pose, step your feet wide and turn your front foot to the right with your torso facing forwards.
  • Turn your back foot in slightly, checking that your heels are in line.
  • Inhale and lift your fingers to shoulder height before reaching your front palm forward.
  • Then lower your right hand to the floor, reach tall with your left.

10. Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana)

Pose Type: Balancing

The Plank pose is well renowned for its core strengthening capacity. It is used a lot in vinyasa-style classes and features some impressive whole-body advantages.

Plank is an exercise which if performed regularly, can strengthen your arms, belly, and glutes.

Plank is also one of the movements that help you prepare for the chaturanga, a challenging pose that you will experience when more advanced.

Try to incorporate it into each yoga session or other workouts, as practicing a plank position will increase your ability as a yoga student.

How To:

  • Start on all fours, then slowly lift your torso into your plank position.
  • Keep your torso parallel to the floor and your shoulders over your wrists.
  • Your arms will be around a shoulder-width apart, and you can look down at the bottom.
  • If this placement is too tricky, you can drop your knees to the floor, which reduces the pressure on your wrists.

11. Low Plank (Chaturanga Dandasana)

Pose Type: Balancing

The angle of the low plank makes it harder to hold, but in turn, this improves your upper body and core strength.

This is another pose you will repeat during vinyasa, and it will soon start to sculpt your arms. Yoga classes aimed at beginners may avoid this pose initially.

Still, the more your yoga instructor incorporates it into your practice, the sooner your body will adapt, making it one of the best yoga poses for beginners.

How To:

  • From the high plank, with your feet hip-distance apart, start to lower your chest halfway toward the floor, keeping your elbows tucked in.
  • From here, you can either drop all your body parts down to the floor or transition into an upward-facing dog.
  • You may find it more accessible for beginners to rest your knees on the ground while you bend your elbows and experience the pose more gently.

12. Cat-Cow Pose (Chakravakasana)

Pose Type: Backbend

The cat-cow sequence is another example of a chest opening pose. It can reduce tension around your shoulder blades, as well as allowing you to take full and deep belly breaths.

Like mountain pose and downward-facing dog, the cat and cow pose is one your yoga teacher will use a lot, as it is easy for beginners.

It brings much-needed movement to your body, encouraging the stability of your knee, as well as providing you with a general sense of wellness.

Most advice about yoga poses for beginners focuses on poses that involve many parts of your body- and Chakravakasna does just that.

How To:

  • Starting from a kneeling position, bring your hands to the floor, under your shoulders.
  • With your feet hip-width apart, inhale as you drop your hips and lift your chest toward the ceiling.
  • On an exhale, round your spine with your forehead facing toward the floor. You should feel a nice stretch through each side of your back.
  • Keep repeating this, taking deep breaths throughout.

13. Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Pose Type: Backbend

This posture is often associated with Bikram yoga and can be a challenge for your body.

However, it is one of the best poses for arm strength and gives you a magnificent stretch for your chest and back.

You will often transition into this pose from chaturanga (low plank) as it is a good counterpose by working both the front and back sides of your body.

How To:

  • From chaturanga, take an in-breath as you push your chest up toward the ceiling, straightening out your arms.
  • Lengthen the side of your body, pressing the top of your toes in the ground.
  • Keep your hands flat on the floor with the idea that you are lengthening up your torso away from the floor.
  • Your hands will be shoulder-width apart, and you can bend your elbows if you need to, as long as you keep your knees off the floor.

14. Tree (Vrksasana)

Pose Type: Balancing

Practicing the tree pose is a great way to build your balance. Many good yoga sequences will include tree pose whether you are practicing via an online yoga class or at a yoga studio.

This balancing pose is just one of the moves which can strengthen your legs, promote flexibility of your hips and elongate your back.

It also helps you to take deep full breaths as you aim to keep stable on your mat. The very act of standing on one leg at a time forces your body to work hard to stabilize itself, which requires strong feet, healthy knees, and deep breaths.

How To:

  • Starting from mountain pose on your mat, with your back long and your head facing forwards, slowly bend one leg and place the sole of your foot in towards your thigh.
  • You can bring your hands into prayer position and lift them above your head, toward the ceiling.
  • Once you have finished on one side, slowly lower your hands and release your leg to the mat.
  • Aim to relax your shoulders down your back, keep your foot pressing firmly into the side of your leg without putting too much pressure around your knee joint. Take deep breaths.

15. Dancers Pose (Natarajasana)

Pose Type: Backbend

While this is technically a standing pose, its main unique features are its beneficial effects on the shoulders, which can be very tight with so much sitting.

The effort required to stand on one leg is also helpful for stabilizing muscles, which helps build our thighs.

Dancers pose is a chance to stretch out your back, lengthen your legs, including your hamstrings, and it is one of the best experiences for your sense of wellness, too, as it challenges and calms in equal measure.

How To:

  • From your mat, plant your right foot firmly on the floor as you lift the left leg behind you.
  • Lifting the thigh away from the sides of your body, reach your arms back to take hold of your foot with your hand.
  • Aim to press your hand into your foot and your foot into your hand, which will help lift your thigh higher.
  • If you feel steady, you can fold forward. Keep lifting your heel and press your fingertips into your foot for support.

16. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

Pose Type: Supine

Bridge pose can lengthen your hamstrings, and it can activate your glutes too. Experience length in the side of your body, and of course, you will enjoy the sensation in your back too.

The bridge also facilitates deep abdominal breaths and gives you a sense of opening through the hips and the legs.

It is an essential pose in your yoga practice as you can learn to ground through your feet while strengthening your knees.

How To:

  • From your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor close to your bottom.
  • With your arms by your sides, lift your hips off the mat, keeping your knees about a fist distance away from each other.
  • Use your breath, and if you want to lengthen your hamstrings, lift your right leg off the floor before switching to the other side.

17. Half Pigeon Pose (Ardha Kapotasana)

Pose Type: Resting

You can reduce the effect of sitting in a chair with a half pigeon pose on your hips. It is a great way to release any tension in your lower back, and it helps to build your body in preparation for the whole pigeon pose.

Half pigeon is an excellent posture if you are a runner or frequently play sports that tighten your hip flexors or hamstrings.

You will also feel a nice release in the front of your leg, which can increase your flexibility.

How To:

  • From a downward-facing dog, swing your right leg forward onto the floor with your right knee turning to the right side- your shin will be parallel to the floor here.
  • You can either stay up on your fingers or lower yourself into a fold- lengthening your waist as you move.
  • After taking some deep breaths, return to the down dog before repeating on the other side.

18. Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)

Pose Type: Seated

In this seated forward fold, you can find length in your spine and create space through the sides of your body, which can help you release tension and tightness.

A forward bend can also be a restorative pose, where you can switch into a rest and digest state, which is very good for reducing your stress and anxiety levels.

In addition, paschimottanasana is a great way to release tight hamstrings, which many beginners have.

How To:

  • Sit up straight on your mat with your legs out in front of you, toes touching, heels on the floor.
  • On an inhale, lengthen your spine, reaching your arms over your head.
  • On an exhale, gently reach your arms toward your toes, extending through the sides of your body, while drawing your belly towards your legs.

19. Garland Pose (Malasana)

Pose Type: Standing

Malasana, or yogis squat, is also great for opening your hips and promoting pelvic health. It also encourages a good spinal posture, supporting your back and strengthening your legs too.

You can enjoy a stretch through your waist in this pose, as well as bringing blood flow into your heels and toes for better circulation.

With time, you can sit in this position for a few minutes a day, which helps to undo the harm caused by using a chair.

How To:

  • From a mountain pose, exhale as you bend your knees and squat your bottom down towards the floor, tucking your tail bone under.
  • Aim to drop the back of your heels to the mat, spreading the weight evenly between your left foot and your right foot (and toes).
  • You can bring your hands into a prayer pose with your arms between your thighs, keeping your back in a straight line.

20. Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)

Pose Type: Supine

The happy baby pose is ideal for tight hamstrings, and it also opens your hips.

It is a lovely restorative pose that you can do towards the end of your practice, and it helps to release your back and legs after any core work. You can also stretch out your toes.

You can increase mobility in your lower body by practicing this pose regularly. The act of rocking gently from side to side helps massage your lower back and stimulate your abdominal organs, which may support your digestion.

How To:

  • Start lying on your back, then bend your knees and take hold of your feet with your hands so that the soles of your feet point upwards.
  • Draw your knees down towards your armpits and gently rock from side to side on your mat.

The takeaway

Starting a yoga practice can be a life-changing and transformative process.

By practicing these great beginner-friendly poses, you will soon gain the benefits of enhanced flexibility, mobility, and strength.

In addition, you can learn better to manage the stresses and strains of modern life.

While finding a good yoga class is critical, you can practice the above moves easily at home, as all you need is a good yoga mat.

So why not boost your body and mind, from your head to your toes? Get started on your yoga journey today.