Heard all the amazing benefits of yoga but don’t know where to start? Yes, we have all been there.
All the hesitant newbies and beginners waiting to change their lives through yoga, but don’t know where to start, this is for you. Start with this ultimate beginners’ guide to yoga and take your first step on the path to becoming a yogi.
Yoga is, undoubtedly, one of the best things that can you can do for yourself. But there is always an air of uncertainty and inhibition around it.
You don’t need to be really flexible of perfectly fit to start with yoga, although you will be these things if you practise yoga regularly.
What is Yoga?
Coming to the basic, yet often ignored question…what is yoga?
Contrary to popular belief, yoga is not just a bunch of exercises where you bend your body in all directions. It goes deeper than that.
It is in fact, a group of spiritual, mental and of course physical practices that originated in pre-Vedic India. It has many varieties of schools and practices.
In ancient texts, the highest state of yoga is described as a state “when the five senses, along with the mind, remain still and the intellect is not active” and the ultimate goal of yoga is known to be “moksha” (liberation).
The physical form of yoga which has been widely adopted in the Modern Era is mainly categorized under Hatha yoga which incorporates many gymnastics postures.
Benefits of Yoga
We have all heard time and again how yoga can change our stressful lives and heal numerous mental and physical illnesses. But how far are these claims true?? Read on to find out.
Yoga is known to bring balance to mental, physical, emotional and spiritual disciplines. Here are a few of the many amazing benefits of yoga:
- Better flexibility, balance and coordination
- Reduces stress by reducing cortisol (stress-causing hormone) levels in your body
- Reduces blood sugar levels
- Breathing techniques in yoga are known to reduce heart rate and thus, reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure
- Regular practice of yoga has many psychological effects like fighting anxiety and panic attacks, depression, and many such conditions
- Yoga has a positive impact on people suffering from health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, lung disorders, cancer, kidney problems, spinal cord problems.
- Believe it or not, yoga can even heighten your creativity and help with mood swings
- Yoga increases focus and concentration
- Improves lung health and capacity
- Yoga, of course, helps with weight loss not just by burning calories while performing yoga, but also by increasing your body’s metabolic rate
- Yoga during pregnancy or prenatal yoga is known to have countless benefits
- Since yoga consists of a lot of static poses, it’s regular practice helps a lot with strengthening your muscles over the long run
- It is no secret that more yoga equals better posture
- Yoga improves your bone health by strengthening the muscles around it and also strengthens your spine
- Yoga increases blood circulation throughout your body
- Yoga removes lymphatic congestion by draining your lymph nodes, thus removing toxins and cellular wastes accumulated in our bodies. This, in turn, improves our immunity levels.
- Yoga regulates adrenaline glands which may help in stress relief
- Studies have shown that yoga balances your nervous system
- Yoga leads to better sleep. In fact, regular practice of Yoga Nidra keeps insomnia, sleep apnea, sleepwalking, and many more such disorders at bay
- Suffering from digestive problems like IBS, constipation, and bloating? Then yoga is the way to go!
- Research shows that people who practise yoga regularly have witnessed an increase in self-esteem and self-worth.
- Time and again yoga has been proven to be an immunity booster thus improving our overall health and local resistance making it easier for our bodies to keep allergens and viruses at bay
- Since yoga works both on our mind and body, it even helps in relieving physical pain and stress
- To all the ladies who suffer from premenstrual or menstrual cramps, yoga comes to your rescue. I am myself a witness of the fact that yoga helps reduce pain and discomfort during your menstrual cycles.
- Yoga is also practised for its anti-ageing benefits, a fact that is little known. Over time, yoga can discourage the natural deterioration of muscles and tissues thus maintaining our precious youth.
- Yoga has even proven to be helpful in combating effects of hormonal imbalance and hot flashed during menopause
How to build a Yoga routine
A yoga routine might sound intimidating for a beginner, but worry not! A yoga routine will help you become consistent with your yoga practice and will ease you into it with each passing day.
Best time to practise yoga
A very important point to remember is that unlike other forms of fitness, yoga needs to be practised on a completely empty stomach.
Thus the best time to practise yoga can be early morning before having your breakfast or in the evening around sunset when you have not eaten anything for at least 3 hours.
Pre yoga routine
Before commencing with your yoga practice, make sure you wear comfortable clothes that are neither very loose and nor very tight.
You will need a yoga mat to practice the yoga poses.
It is advised to drink little or no water from half n hour before your practice and until you are done with it.
Post yoga routine
It is recommended not to drink lots of water and eat anything until half n hour after you have completed your yoga routine.
It is good to lie down in Savasana or corpse for at least 2 to 3 minutes at the end of your practice. This helps in bringing down your heart rate and helps you relax.
Dos while practising yoga
- Try to practice yoga in a neat and clean space preferably with fresh air and sunlight coming in
- Yoga asanas should be practised slowly and with the utmost patience. There should not be any jerks while you are practising asanas.
- It is better to keep any kind of noise or distractions at bay during your practice so that you can reap maximum benefits out of it.
- A huge part of yoga involves correcting your breathing technique. Hence it is very important to concentrate on your breathing throughout your practice.
Donts while practising yoga
- Do not perform your regular yoga practice if you are pregnant or suffering from any health condition or illness. It is advised to consult your physician before doing so.
- Do not continue with your practice if you feel any sudden pain or any extreme discomfort during your practice.
- Do not take a shower or drink water for at least until after 30 minutes of your practice.
- Do not perform any strenuous exercises immediately after your yoga routine.
I feel this ultimate guide to beginners’ yoga was more than enough to convince you, so now let’s try 20 easy and beginner-friendly yoga poses.
20 Yoga Poses for Beginners
Yoga is not just about a specific number of poses and bends. In fact, there are many types of yoga and it has a lot more to it.
This will be a guide for you to begin on this incredible journey of regular yoga practice and towards a healthier lifestyle.
1. Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
- To start with your yoga routine, just sit down on your yoga mat in a cross-legged position.
- Keep your spine straight and place your hands on each of your knees.
- Take 15 to 20 deep breaths in this position.
Sukhasna Top Benefits:
- Apart from calming your mind and setting you in the mood for yoga, Sukhasana helps strengthen your back and improve your posture
- It also helps to stretch your hip flexors, knees and ankles.
2. Baddha Konasana (Butterfly Pose)
Baddha Konasana Steps:
- To practice the butterfly pose, release your legs from sukhasana, place your feet together and bring your feet towards you as near as it feels comfortable. Place your hands on both your feet.
- Keep your spine straight and try to gently press both your knees towards the ground. Do not press your knees really hard.
- Make sure to place the outer side of your feet on the mat.
- Take 10 to 15 deep breaths in this position and then gently release both your feet from this position.
Baddha Konasana Easier Variation:
- If you are finding the butterfly pose difficult, you can make it easier by sitting on a higher platform like a cushion or a folded blanket and placing your feet on the mat.
Baddha Konasana Top Benefits:
- This pose can stimulate organs like ovaries, kidneys and bladder.
- It helps cure menstrual cramps and discomfort.
- Since it increases blood flow in abdominal organs, it is known to combat fertility issues.
3. Virasana (Hero Pose)
- Virasana is a kneeling position where you kneel down on the mat with both your knees together and your hands placed on your thighs
- Keep your spine straight and sit down on the mat with your feet on either side facing upwards
- Basically, you are a hero or a warrior who is bold and sits tall and upright
- Take 10 to 15 deep breaths in this position.
- After that, relieve your knees and relax
Virasana Easier Variation:
- For many beginners, hero pose may be difficult and hence an easier variation would be to place a cushion between your feet and sit on it
- You may even keep your feet together and try sitting on it
Virasana Top Benefits:
- Relieves digestive problems
- Stretches your lower body completely and thus improves circulation
- Improves your posture
4. Dandasana (Staff Pose)
- To practice the staff pose, sit straight on the mat with both your legs extended together and parallel to the floor
- Keep your torso straight and perpendicular to the floor
- Place your hands on either side with palms facing down
- Take 10 deep breaths in this position.
Dandasana Easier Variation:
- If you are not able to sit upright and keep your torso straight, then you may sit against a wall
- Your shoulder blades should touch the wall
Dandasana Top Benefits:
- Stretches your back and chest muscles thus improves posture if practised regularly
- Stretched your hamstrings or the back of your thighs
5. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
- Begin with staff pose and gently bend the upper part of your body forward with an inhalation.
- Place your heels firmly on the floor. Straighten your arms and hold your toes or your calves or you may even place your arms on the floor based on your flexibility.
- With each inhalation, lengthen your spine and with each exhalation, deepen your bend.
- Hold this position for 3 to 5 breaths and repeat this 2 to 3 times.
Paschimottanasana Easier Variation:
- For more comfort, sit on a folded blanket
- You may even loop a strap or any cloth around your feet and use it as a support to bend forwards.
Paschimottanasana Top Benefits:
- This pose helps with menstrual cramps and discomfort
- Stimulates ovaries and uterus thus helps with infertility problems
- It is also known to improve your appetite and increase your metabolism
6. Malasana (Garland Pose)
- Malasana is a full squat pose where you come down to a full squat position with your knees facing outwards
- Join your hands together and separate both your legs with your elbows
- Take 10 deep breaths in this pose
Malasana Easier Variation:
- Malasana may be quite difficult to hold if you haven’t stretched your legs in a while
- Thus if you feel uncomfortable, then you may fold a blanket and place it under both your heels
- The higher the elevation of your heels, the easier it will be to hold the pose
Malasana Top Benefits:
- The garland pose is known to exert pressure on your various endocrine glands, and this, in turn, helps to fire up your metabolism.
- It increases the range of motion of ankles and knees
- It even helps to flush toxins out of your system
7. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
- Utkatasana is a classic squatting pose where you position yourself as if you are sitting on a chair
- Place your knees hip-width apart and bend your knees till your thighs are almost parallel to the floor
- Press down your heels and make sure your knees do not go further than your toes
- Raise both your hands and hold this pose for 10 breaths
- Repeat this 2 to 3 times
- Do not forget to keep your back and shoulder blades straightened
Utkatasana Easier Variation:
- To make the chair pose easier, you can make the squat less deep
- You may hold the pose for shorter periods of time, but remember not to compromise on the posture
Utkatasana Top Benefits:
- Utkatasana helps a lot in improving your endurance
- It strengthens your quads, hamstrings, calves and even your joints
- Stretches your spine and improves your posture
- It tones your legs
- Perform this regularly and you will see a difference yourself as I did!
8. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
- Tadasana is a total body stretch that helps you relax and calm every part of your body
- Start by standing erect, placing your feet slightly apart and pressing your big toes firmly on the ground
- Now starting with your feet, contract each and every muscle including your calves, thighs, back, core and shoulders
- Now roll your shoulder blades backwards and gently raise both your hands straight towards the sky
- Stretch and lengthen your whole body as much as you can and hold this pose for 10 breaths
- Repeat this 2 to 3 times
Tadasana Easier Variation:
- An easier variation would be to hold the pose for a shorter time
Tadasana Top Benefits:
- Relaxes your whole body and relieves you from any pains and aches
- Activates your whole body by improving circulation throughout
- Develops flexibility, strength and endurance
- Reduces soreness that you might experience after a long day
9. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
- For performing Uttanasana, start from the standing position of Tadasana, exhale and gently bend down from your hip joints
- Remember to bend from your hips and not from your waist and do not lock your knees
- Lengthen your torso and try to touch your feet with your palm or fingers
- Try to take 5 deep breaths in this position
- With each inhalation, lengthen your torso and with each exhalation try to bend down more
- You may repeat this for 2 to 3 times
Uttanasana Easier Variation:
- Ardha Uttanasana will be an easier variation where you bend down only halfway
- Bend down till your torso becomes parallel to the floor and place your hands on your calves
Uttanasana Top Benefits:
- Standing forward bend is known to relieve headache, anxiety, insomnia and stress.
- It aids in digestion
- It rejuvenates your mind and instantly uplifts your mood
- It stimulates abdominal organs like kidney, liver, and other reproductive organs
10. Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose)
Virabhadrasana I Steps:
- To perform Warrior I pose, start with Tadasana, then place your feet about 4 feet apart.
- Rotate your left foot about 45 degrees and right foot about 90 degrees towards the right. Raise both your hands and rotate your torso fully towards the right.
- Press the right heel firmly on the floor and bend your right knee as much as possible and stay in this pose for 5 deep breaths. Ideal knee position will be when it forms a 90-degree angle
- Relax and come back to Tadasana. Repeat Virabhadrasana I on both sides.
Virabhadrasana I Easier Variation:
- To make this easier, make your bend less deep.
Virabhadrasana I Top Benefits:
- Warrior pose improves your balance and increases your stamina
- It tones your legs, arms and strengthens the muscles around your knees
- Relieves stress from your shoulders and neck
11. Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose)
Virabhadrasana II Steps:
- Start with Virabhadrasana I, rotate your torso away from the right knee
- Then stretch your hands and bring them parallel to the floor, palms facing down
- Bend your right knee deeper with each exhalation
Virabhadrasana II Easier Variation:
- As in the case of Warrior I, to make this easier, make your bend less deep.
Virabhadrasana II Top Benefits:
- Benefits of Warrior II are pretty much the same as Warrior I.
12.Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
- To begin with, Trikonasana, start with Virabhadrasana II or Warrior II pose, exhale and gently bend your torso from the hips in such a way that your torso is parallel to your right leg
- Stretch your right hand and place it on your right calf, ankle or on the floor based on your flexibility
- Stretch your left arm towards the ceiling in line with the top of your shoulders
- Take 5 deep breaths and inhale and come back to Tadasana. Repeat on both sides.
Trikonasana Easier Variation:
- To make this pose easier, lessen the bend and place your right hand on your right calf instead of placing it on the floor
Trikonasana Top Benefits:
- Relieves backaches and pains
- Helps with menopausal symptoms
- Improves physical equilibrium and balance
13. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
Adho Mukha Svanasana Steps:
- To practice the downward-facing dog pose, start by coming onto the floor on your knees under your hips and placed on the mat and hands apart and placed farther than your shoulders
- Then gently lift your knees and straighten your leg and try to press your heels on the mat
- Firm your shoulder blades, straighten your back and pull up your sitting bones so that your body forms a triangle shape
- Remember not to lock your knees
- Hold this pose for 5 breaths and repeat for 2 to 3 times
Adho Mukha Svanasana Easier Variation:
- To make this easier, you may hold this pose for a shorter period of time
Adho Mukha Svanasana Top Benefits:
- Relieves headache and back pain
- Helps to overcome digestive system problems
- Tone your shoulder, chest, arms and back muscles
14. Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana (Dolphin Plank Pose)
Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana Steps:
- To begin, start with Adho Mukha Svanasana or the Downward dog pose and slowly move forward and shift your weight towards the front
- Then gently bring down your forearms and place it on the mat, aligned parallel to each other
- Your whole body should be straight and should look like a plank. Do not dip your lower back or bring it up.
- Hold this plank pose for 5 deep breaths and repeat if need be.
Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana Easier Variation:
- Easier variation of the dolphin plank pose will be to come down on your knees and hold the plank pose
Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana Top Benefits:
- The dolphin plank pose activates each and every body part and tones almost your whole body
- It works mainly on your core and abdominal muscles and thus helps in reducing belly fat
- When done regularly, this asana increases your energy and endurance immensely.
- It also increases your focus and concentration
15. Marjariasana (Cat Pose)
- Start by coming down on your knees, your feet slightly apart and aligned with your arms. Place your arms with palms touching the mat. Keep your arms straight but do not lock your elbows.
- Your thighs and arms should be perpendicular to the floor. You may use a blanket beneath your knees for support.
- With every inhalation, look upwards and pull your navel downwards such that your back forms a concave shape.
- With every exhalation, pull your back and navel upwards and look downwards so that your spine forms a convex shape.
- Repeat this alternately for 5 to 10 breaths.
Marjariasana Top Benefits:
- This pose greatly helps to relieve menstrual cramps
- It is helpful for relaxation and releasing any physical or mental tension that you may experience after a long day
- It also helps to tone your abdominal muscles as it stretches your core muscles to a great extent
16. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana Steps:
- To perform this pose, lie down on your mat, bend your knees and bring your feet close to your sitting bones. Place your hands on either side with palms facing down.
- You may place a folded blanket under your neck and shoulders for support.
- Now inhale and gently firm and raise your back so that it becomes almost parallel to the floor. Clasp your hands underneath your back.
- Take 4 to 5 deep breaths in this position and repeat for 2 to 3 times. Make sure to relax immediately if you feel any discomfort.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana Easier Variation:
- For an easier variation, you may raise your back not as high as parallel to the floor and you may hold this pose for a lesser number of breaths.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana Top Benefits:
- It opens your chest, neck and shoulders and stretches your hip flexors and spine.
- It is known to increase your lung capacity
- It works wonders for people with ailments like asthma and high blood pressure problem
17.Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- For the cobra pose, start with lying on your stomach in the mat with your whole body stretched. Place your palms beneath your shoulder facing down.
- Then with an inhalation, gently lift your torso from your hips. Go up as much as possible and do not lock your elbows.
- Hold this pose for 3 to 5 breaths. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
Bhujangasana Easier Variation:
- You can make this easier by coming only halfway up instead of lifting up your torso fully.
Bhujangasana Top Benefits:
- Cobra pose provides a complete stretch to your back and spine and hence relieves any tension or any aches.
- Stimulates abdominal organs and aids in digestion
- Increases body heat and improves circulation of oxygen throughout your body
18. Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)
Ananda Balasana Steps:
- For this fun pose, lie down on your back, exhale and bend your knees and bring them near your belly. Hold your toes with your hands.
- Place your ankles directly above your knees. Firmly press your tail bones on the mat and rock from left to right.
- Repeat for 5 to 10 breaths.
Ananda Balasana Top Benefits:
- Opens your hips and strengthens your arm muscles
- Reduces your heart rate and thus calming and relaxing your body
- Gently massages your digestive organs thus aids in digestion
19. Balasana (Child’s Pose)
- Kneel down on the mat and sit on your heels. Place your big toes together and heels hip-width apart.
- Now with a exhale, bend your torso down and rest your forehead on the mat. Extend your hands and place your palms facing down on the mat.
- Take deep breaths in this position and relax.
- Hold this for a few minutes.
Balasana Top Benefits:
- You will feel a good stretch after the child’s pose and you will also feel instantly relaxed
- Relieves back, neck and shoulder pain.
20. Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
- Shavasana is simply lying down on the floor like a corpse. Place your arms on either side of your body with palms facing upwards.
- Close your eyes and relax. Soften all your senses.
- Take deep breaths, relax each body part consciously and try to concentrate on your breathing
Shavasana Top Benefits:
- Shavasana is the ultimate relaxing yoga pose and is known to lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
- It cools down your body after every yoga session after which you can continue with your day relaxed and energized.
Better posture, mental health, physical health, stress relief….is there any other good thing that yoga cannot do to you?! No wonder the world is obsessed with yoga!
So now you know!
Let us know if you try any other yoga poses that made you feel healthier.