Basic Yoga Poses Chart and Description
Yoga has been known to help increase mobility, flexibility, circulation, brain function and memory even after your final savasana—the meditative relaxation pose at the end of a practice. Start each day with this quick flow below to get your blood running, focus your mind, release tension, and set the mood for your entire day.
Take these poses in order and hold for at least 5–10 breaths. During each pose, inhale and exhale through the nose to increase oxygen and build internal body heat.
These 10 poses are a great way to learn the basics of yoga, and can be completed by people of all fitness levels.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
How to: Sitting on your heels, bring your torso forward and rest your forehead on the ground in front of you. Extend your arms toward the front of the mat with palms facing down. Rest your chest in between your knees.
Benefits: Relaxes the spine, neck and shoulders and increases blood circulation to the head.
Tip: You can take this position anytime you’re feeling fatigued during your yoga practice.
Cat-Cow Stretch (Chakravakasana)
How to: Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips. Start with cow by curling your toes under during an inhale and dropping your belly while gazing up toward the sky. Transition to cat during an exhale by releasing the tops of your feet to the floor, rounding your spine and bringing your gaze towards your belly.
Benefits: Keeps the spine healthy and improves abdominal strength.
Tip: Closing your eyes while moving through cat-cow is encouraged.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
How to: Start on all fours and spread your hands shoulder-width apart and knees hips-width apart. Send your hips to the sky to create an inverted V shape with your body. Spread your fingers and toes as wide as you can to get as much grounding as possible.
Benefits: Great stretch for the calves and helps boost blood circulation throughout the body.
How to: Start on your belly with feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on the mat beside your rib cage with elbows bent, and peel your chest and upper ribs up off the floor.
Benefits: Opens up the back, chest and shoulders, and awakens your energy source.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
How to: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and arms by your sides. Engage your legs and draw your tailbone down.
Benefits: Improves posture and mental clarity.
Tip: Try practicing mountain pose whenever you’re standing in line for something.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
How to: From mountain pose, bend your knees and try to get your thighs parallel to the floor while keeping your tail bone down and chest lifted.
Benefits: Strengthens the ankles, calves and spine, and stimulates the abdominal organs.
Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
How to: Come into a lunge position with your back heel facing inward and your front knee directly over your front ankle. Keep both your hips facing forward and bring your arms over head.
Benefits: Strengthens the chest, arms and legs.
Tip: It’s OK to move your legs into a wider stance to get your hips to face forward.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
How to: From Warrior I, open up your hips to the side of the mat and extend your arms out with palms facing down. Make sure to keep a 90-degree angle and gaze out over your front middle finger.
Benefits: Strengthens the legs, ankles and arms.
Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
How to: On all fours, slide your right knee forward toward your right hand and slide your left leg back. Square your hips to the front of the mat and bring your torso down into a forward bend over your bent right leg.
Benefits: Lengthens and opens up the hip flexors, stretches the back, and opens the chest.
Tip: Pain in the hips often reflects emotional pain. Opening up your hip flexors helps to relieve stress.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
How to: Lie down on your back and let your feet fall to either side. Bring your arms alongside your body. Let your breath come naturally and close your eyes.
Benefits: Calms the mind, relaxes the muscles, and improves concentration.
Tip: Spoil yourself and stay in this pose as long as you wish.