Beginner Yoga Routine

This beginner yoga routine is made up of 10 basic foundational yoga poses. These poses are fairly simple, but once learned, they can easily be modified to increase difficulty.

Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise you can do for your body. It promotes flexibility, strength, and relaxation. The meditative breathing is calming, and has proven benefits for mental stability and mood control. 

The wide range of difficulties in different yoga flows means there's something for everyone. And no matter your fitness level, the easiest beginner yoga routines are for anyone.

Learning these basic foundational poses will help you master any yoga routine. Doing all of these together, taking time to breathe through them would make a great beginner yoga routine.

At about 3-5 deep, slow breaths per pose, this routine takes me about 10 minutes. When I add Corpse Pose, it takes me 13-15 minutes. 


1. Mountain Pose

Tadasana

Tadasana, Tadasana, "Mountain Pose"
Tadasana, My mom Sandra Huizar of Breath of Life Yoga is a certified yoga instructor, and she agreed to take photos of these poses for me.

At first glance, this looks like just standing. But, when done correctly, it's grounding and helps as an easy transition and break between poses. It's THE foundation in every beginner yoga routine, and, moving forward, every advanced yoga routine.

  • Stand with your feet a few inches apart, parallel, and facing forward.
  • Roll back and forth on your feet, up on the toes, then back on the heel. This massages the base of your feet, grounding you. Do this until you feel well balanced.
  • Activate your quadricep muscles, lifting the kneecaps. Keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Draw your pelvic muscles up and pull your core muscles in.
  • Pull your shoulder blades together and down, opening your chest. 
  • Align your ears over your shoulders, over your hips, over your ankles in a straight line.
  • Close your eyes and breathe deeply, consciously relaxing the face muscles.
  • Return to this pose whenever needed to transition to another pose.


2. Triangle Pose

Utthita Trikonasana

Utthita Trikonasana<br>Utthita Trikonasana
"Triangle Pose"

Triangle pose is both a balance and a stretch pose. It stretches out the oblique muscles and the leg muscles. Once the basic pose is learned, it has some variations that make it more difficult, so it's a good foundation pose to learn. 

  • Start in Mountain Pose, facing sideways on the mat.
  • Once you're centered and feeling balanced, step one foot wide. Your back foot will be pointing forward and your front foot will be pointing out, parallel with the mat.
  • Raise both arms out wide into a T, pointing towards opposite walls. 
  • Cock your hip and lean your torso sideways over your front foot, and, on an exhale, bend over it. Your arms will now be perpendicular to the floor, one pointed at the ground, one pointed up towards the ceiling. You should feel a good stretch in your side.
  • To come out of the stretch, pull yourself up as if you have a string pulling your upper arm until you are standing upright. Step your feet together into Mountain Pose, then repeat on the opposite side.


3. Warrior I & Warrior II

Virbhadrasana

Virbhadrasana, Virbhadrasana, "Warrior"

Every beginner yoga routine needs the Warrior Pose. It's energizing and strengthening. It improves your balance, opens your hips and chest, and stretches your ankles, calves, and shoulders. 

Warrior I

  • Start in Mountain Pose. Both feet are pointing forward and about hip-width apart. 
  • Step forward into a high lunge. Your knee should be straight above your ankle, no further.
  • Square your hips forward. Draw your shoulder blades back and down, opening your chest.
  • Raise your arms forward and straight up by your ears, making sure to keep your shoulders down. Face your palms together.
  • Breathe deeply and lean back, looking up towards the ceiling.


Virbhadrasana,

Warrior II

  • Beginning from Warrior I, look forward again and drop your arms parallel to the floor, right arm over right leg, left over left. Palms face down. Look over the middle finger of your front hand.
  • After 3-5 breaths, drop your arms, and return to Warrior I.
  • Drop your arms and push back into Mountain pose. Repeat on the opposite leg.


4. Cat/Cow Pose

Majaryasana/Bitilasana

Cat/Cow Pose is one of my favorites. It stretches your back and shoulders and opens your chest and lungs. It was one of the first poses I learned, so I'm including it in this beginner yoga routine.  

  • Start on all fours (hands and knees). Knees below your hips, palms below your shoulders.
  • Spread your fingers wide, middle finger pointed forward.
  • Activate your biceps, pointing the inside of your elbows toward each other.
  • Draw in your abs towards your back. Keep your back straight and your face pointed down at the ground, lengthening your spine.

Cat

  • On your exhale, round your spine, tuck your hips, and pull your chin to your chest.

Cow

  • On your inhale, tilt your pelvis, arch your back, and allow your belly to drop towards the floor. 
  • Lift your head to look forward, or up if your neck needs a further stretch.
  • After a few rounds, come back to neutral. 


5. Downward Facing Dog Pose

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana,

This pose, while foundational, is a little difficult for a beginner yoga routine. It's best to wait until you're warmed up to try it, but it's wonderful for the legs, back, arms, and shoulders.

  • Start on all fours (hands and knees). Knees below your hips, palms a few inches in front of your shoulders.
  • Spread your fingers wide, middle finger pointed forward.
  • Activate your biceps, pointing the inside of your elbows toward each other.
  • Tuck your toes. Breathe deeply.
  • On your exhalation, engage your core, drawing the stomach muscles back towards the spine and lift off the ground into a V.
  • Press your chest towards the floor and arch your tailbone, creating a straight line with your back and with your legs. This can be a pretty intense sensation, so breathe deeply and focus on relaxing your hamstrings and calves.
  • If necessary, alternate pressing one heel into the ground and relaxing the other one, like pedaling a bicycle.
  • To come out of the pose, either bend your knees and come back onto all fours, or walk your feet forward towards your hands into a forward fold.


6. Cobra Pose

Bhujangasana

Bhujangasana,

Photo coming soon.

This is a gentle backbend stretch, which is nice because you get to stretch out your back, but only as far as you are able. And you don't have to be upside down, which is nice, especially if you're prone to headaches or vertigo. It's the beginner yoga routine version of a backbend or Sphinx Pose.

  • Lay flat on your stomach, legs stretched out straight behind you.
  • Press your palms into the mat near your shoulders with your elbows pointed back toward your feet.
  • Engage your upper legs, rolling your inner thighs together.
  • On an inhalation, pull your shoulder blades together and down to open your chest, and push away from the floor.
  • Roll your collar bones to open your chest. 
  • Protect your lower spine by engaging your glute muscles. Engage your core muscles.
  • Protect your neck muscles by keeping the neck long.
  • A good counterpose after Cobra is Child's Pose.


7. Child's Pose

Balasana

Balasana,

This pose should have a place in every beginner yoga routine. It's meant to be a calm, restorative pose that helps counteract some of the stretches like Cobra and Downward Facing Dog Pose.

  • Kneel on the floor, feet tucked under you. 
  • Spread your knees the width of your hips.
  • On an exhale, fold forward, allowing your belly to settle between the legs. If possible, rest your forehead on the mat, right on your "third eye" (the space between your eyebrows).
  • Lay the arms out along the length of the body, resting on the mat palms up.
  • Let the weight of your shoulders pull your shoulder blades apart and stretch your upper back. 

There are several variations of this pose to make it a little easier. If your don't find it relaxing or you're in pain, try one of these variations.

  • place a pillow or rolled up blanket under your forehead, between your ankles and the mat, or between your buttocks and thighs for some relief
  • spread your knees a little wider 
  • stretch your arms in front of you on the mat with your armpits pointed down towards the mat for an extra stretch in the shoulder blades


Balasana,

8. Easy Sit Pose

Sukhasana

Sukhasana,

This one is pretty basic. It's a great hip opener. 

  • Start by sitting cross-legged on the floor. If you need to begin by sitting on a cushion or pillow at first, that may ease some of the tension if your hips aren't very flexible. 
  • Roll your hips forward (or use your hands to pull your backside out from underneath you) until you are sitting on your sit-bones.
  • Cross your legs. Your shins should be parallel to the front of your mat, and your knees should rest on your ankles. 
  • Lengthen your spine. Don't allow your shoulders to curve forward. Pull them back and down by pulling your shoulder blades together. Rest your hands on your knees (palms up or down, whichever feels better to you.)


9. Staff Pose

Dandasana

Dandasana,

This seated pose is a fantastic pose for the hamstrings. It can be difficult at first, since most people have very tight hamstrings. It may be helpful to begin this against a wall, in order to have a straight back. You may also find having a strap or a belt helpful.

  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you, toes pointed upward.
  • Roll forward onto your sit-bones, or pull your glute muscles behind you and out of the way until you feel yourself sitting on your sit-bones. 
  • (Sometimes it helps to place your palms on the floor and pull yourself straight upright.)
  • Flex your feet, pushing out through the heels. 
  • Pull your stomach muscles towards your spine and use them to pull yourself upright.
  • Pull your shoulder blades together and down, opening your chest. Your ears should be aligned over your shoulders, over your hips, in a straight line.
  • If you need it, wrap a strap or belt around the balls of your feet to pull them back.
  • Breathe deeply as long as necessary to relax your legs.

If this is not a stretch to you, you can reach your arms overhead, tilt your pelvis, and bend forward, keeping your back straight. Your goal is to lay your stomach on your thighs, not reach your knees with your forehead. 


10. Cobbler's Pose

Baddha Konasana

Baddha Konasana - Baddha Konasana
"Cobbler's Pose"

Cobbler's Pose is a wonderful hip, groin, and inner thigh opener. If you're doing it at night, it's also nice to take advantage of this pose to massage the bottom of the feet (I like to use lavender essential oil), which is relaxing for the whole body.  It's not just for beginners, either. You'll find this pose helpful however long you've been practicing yoga.

  • Begin in Easy Sit Pose. Pull yourself up to sit on your sit-bones.
  • Bring the soles of the feet together.
  • Draw your shoulder blades back and down to open your chest and straighten your spine. Align your ears over your shoulders and look forward, not down.
  • Pull your knees towards the ground gently. You can use your elbows to hold your knees in place.
  • Tilt your pelvis and lean forward, keeping your back straight
  • Use your hands to open your feet like a book. If you want, use your thumbs to massage the soles of your feet.


Bonus: Corpse Pose

Savasana

Savasana,

Corpse Pose is a nice way to end any yoga routine because it's relaxing and meditative. Some people find the pose very difficult, because they have no experience with practiced meditation and relaxation. Taking the time to quiet your mind has numerous proven health benefits which we'll put on another page, but for now, even if this is difficult, you should give it a try.

  • Lie down on your back. Do what you need to make yourself comfortable. If you need a small pillow for your lower back or neck, a blanket or have an eye pillow (a small pillow filled with lavender scented beans or rice--the weight on your eyes is relaxing, as is the smell), go ahead and use those things. 
  • Lay with your palms up. The goal is not to fall asleep, but to fully relax and stay focused. 
  • Breathe deeply in through your nose, out through your mouth. Take a moment to focus on each body part individually and focus on relaxing it. Your head, your face muscles, your neck, shoulders, stomach, arms, hands, legs, feet. 
  • After 3-5 minutes, start wiggling your fingers and toes, then rotating your wrists and ankles. Roll to your side and push yourself up into a sitting position. 


Sources

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Return to Home Page