Basic yoga postures – a guide

When you start yoga, the different postures and breathing techniques can seem a bit of a mind field. It is important to not stress about this (thereby defeating the whole aim!). Once you master the basic postures you will feel ready to tackle harder ones. 

Here we explain 5 of the most basic yoga postures and their benefits.

Tree pose – Vrksasana

This is a good choice for helping with your balance as well as stretching. 

Stand up straight on your yoga mat. Position your hands into a prayer position and lift them over your head. Focus your gaze on a non-moving object. Balance on your right leg and lift your left knee out to the left side, press your left foot into the inner thigh of your right leg, or against your right calf. Either above or below the knee is fine, don’t press directly against the knee. Stand next to a wall or a chair for support if you need to.

Hold for 30 seconds and then swap.

Child’s pose – Balasana

If you need to relax and feel calm this is the perfect posture. It also stretches your lower back. 

Kneel on your yoga mat. Then rest your bottom onto your heels as you stretch your chest forwards towards the mat. Lower your shoulder and head to the floor. You can support your head by folding your arms underneath or have them at your side.

Downward facing dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana

This posture lengthens your spine and gives a full-body stretch.

Kneel on your yoga mat. Place both hands on the mat in front of you with palms down, they should be slightly in front of your shoulders. As you lift your knees off the ground, exhale and lift your bottom and hips towards the ceiling. 

Push the top of your thighs back and stretch your heels down towards the mat. Keep a straight back and keep your head down between your arms but don’t let it dangle. 

Try holding for five breaths before returning to the floor to a child’s pose and starting again. 

Easy poseSukhasana

A restful and restorative posture.

Sit on your yoga mat. Cross your legs with your feet below your knees. Rest your hands on your knees or in your lap, palms facing up. 

Press your hips into your yoga mat whilst reaching the crown of your head up. Drop your shoulders down and back. Relax your face and jaw and breathe slowly.

Hold for as long as you feel comfortable. 

Cat cow pose – Chakravakasana

As well as improving your posture and balance, this is good for strengthening and stretching your neck, abdomen and back.

On your yoga mat position your body on all fours. Place your knees under your hips and hands under shoulders, palms down. 

Arch your back with your head and tailbone lifted upwards and your chest open. On your next breath arch your back upwards and lower your head. 

Whilst these postures may seem simple, you can see that they have terrific benefits for your body and mind. Enjoy getting used to them as part of your basic yoga practice and then as you grow and develop your skills.