8 foundational yoga poses for beginners

Esther Ekhart shares some basic poses that will give you a strong foundation and help you to ease your way into the practice of yoga.

yoga positions for beginners

Getting the hang of these basic poses will help create the building blocks of your practice and enable you to delve deeper into yoga with more ease.

Basic yoga poses

1. Easy Pose

yoga positions
Easy Pose / Sukhasana

This yoga position is basically sitting comfortably crossed legged on the floor. You should feel at ease in the pose, so if you find that you can’t sit straight, or your knees are very high up, try sitting on a cushion or some blocks to raise your hips. This is a great pose to begin any practice as it will help you to calm the mind, open your hips and strengthen your back.

Step by step instructions for Easy Pose

2. Cat-Cow

yoga positions
Cat Pose / Majaryasana and Cow Pose / Bitilasana

These two stretches are always done together and are a great way to learn how to connect movement with your breath, an essential aspect of yoga. These poses will help lubricate and mobilise your spine and increase your circulation.

Step by step instructions for Cat Pose and Cow Pose

3. Mountain Pose

yoga positions
Mountain Pose / Tadasana

Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of this pose. It’s not just standing! This foundational standing pose is all about alignment and quiet strength. It strengthens the legs and improves your posture. If you have a solid Mountain pose you can move into different standing poses with a strong and confident foundation. It can actually be a little tricky to do this pose right in the beginning, but it’s worth it!

Step by step instruction for Mountain Pose

4. Downward Facing Dog Pose

yoga postions
Downward Facing Dog Pose / Adho Mukha Svanasana

When learning this pose it’s good to start in an all fours position. This pose is great for building strength in the upper body (the arms and shoulders) and stretches the whole back body. This is a very stimulating and energising pose and is used frequently in yoga classes. Make sure you don’t shift too much of your weight into your hands.. keep it balanced.

Step by step instruction for Downward Facing Dog Pose

5. Child’s Pose

yoga positions
Childs Pose / Balasana

This resting pose is very healing and restorative. When practising yoga it’s important to have a pose that you can come back to to rest. This is where Child’s Pose comes in. It’s very important to feel 100% comfortable in this pose so finding the right variation for you is important. Check out our pose modifications here.

Step by step instruction for Child’s Pose

6. Cobra Pose

yoga positions for beginners
Cobra Pose / Bhujangasana

Another pose used a lot in yoga classes. This gentle backbend helps to stretch and open the chest. It’s energising and also gently strengthens the upper body.

Step by step instruction for Cobra Pose

7. Staff Pose

yoga positions
Staff Pose / Dandasana

This pose is the gateway pose to seated postures. Feeling strong and confident in this pose will provide a stable foundation to your seated poses. Discover your core here and improve its stability and strengthen your back.

Step by step instruction for Staff Pose

8. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

yoga positions
Half Lord Of The Fishes Pose / Ardha Matsyendrasana 

This pose is a great introduction to the twist poses in yoga. You can also lengthen the bottom leg (left leg in the picture). It relieves tension in the back and improves the range of motion in your spine. Make sure you keep your spine long here, so if your back feels rounded, sit on something to raise your hips.

Step by step instruction for Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

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Esther EkhartEsther Ekhart, face and founder of EkhartYoga, brings years of personal yoga and meditation practice, therapy training and study of yoga philosophy into her teaching.