What Are The 12 Basic Yoga Poses?

Some yoga poses defy gravity. And some yoga poses can be done by absolutely anyone!

If you’re looking to start your yoga journey, it’s easier than you might think.

For one, you don’t even have to attend a yoga class to do these yoga poses – you can do them in your pajamas right from the comfort of your home.

Secondly, you might be surprised to find out that you are already doing some of these yoga poses in your everyday life. 

In fact, one of the following yoga poses is something you do every night (we’ll give you a hint, it’s called savasana)!

But let’s get started. Here are the 12 basic yoga poses (asanas) that anyone of all ages and fitness levels—including you—can do right now.

1. Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Downward-facing dog is arguably the most popular yoga pose since it’s always referenced in yoga conversations. It involves forming a piked triangle shape with both hands and feet touching the ground.

Downward-facing dog pose promotes blood circulation to the brain and strengthens the upper body. It can also increase flexibility when the space between the hands and feet is shortened.

2. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

We can’t mention downward-facing dog without upward-facing dog, which involves lying on your front while holding your upper body in a vertical position. This stretches and strengthens the lower back muscles.

Upward-facing dog is similar to cobra pose, but the two are not the same! The key difference is that upward-facing dog pose allows bent arms while cobra pose requires straight arms. 

3. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Balasana

Child’s pose is one of the most common poses performed in yoga classes. It’s a resting pose that stretches the lower back and increases blood circulation to the brain, done by bending forwards with your head on the ground and your arms outstretched.

Child pose is a relaxing pose, it has to be said, which is the reason why it’s often used as a resting pose during yoga sequences.

4. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Vrksasana

Tree pose is another popular yoga pose that most people have heard of. It requires good balance, but can still be held by beginners who have never done yoga before.

Tree pose involves balancing on one foot with the hands (palms) placed together – as if praying. It’s sometimes performed with the arms stretched out overhead, but the former is more common.

5. High Plank Pose (Phalakasana)

Phalakasana

High plank pose almost explains itself: it’s the traditional plank (common in ab workouts) but performed with straight arms as opposed to the position being held with the forearms on the ground.

High plank pose is contrasted with low plank pose (ardha phalakasana), which, you guessed it, is the normal plank position. Both poses strengthen the core muscles and shoulder muscles.

6. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Uttanasana

Ever tried to touch your toes? You were doing uttanasana, a.k.a. standing forward bend! It’s a yoga pose that involves bending forwards from a standing position and then touching the ground or holding your ankles.

Standing forward bend pose offers various benefits, including increasing flexibility and strengthening the hip flexors, hamstrings, and lower back muscles.

7. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Bridge pose promotes glute and lower back strength by elevating the hips from a lying down position (on your back). It’s similar to the bridge—a common exercise—except that in yoga it’s held isometrically.

Bridge pose can be difficult for some people, but most beginners will be able to do it straightaway, if not after a few sessions of practice.

8. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

Utkatasana

Chair pose is what you might imagine it to be: a yoga pose that looks like the person is sitting in an imaginary chair. It simply involves bending the knees and stretching the arms overhead.

Chair pose strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. It’s a beginner pose, but can be just as challenging as a wall sit if held for a long time.

9. Warrior 1 Pose (Virabhadrasana I)

Virabhadrasana I

Warrior 1 pose got its name for a reason: it’s a “bold” pose that involves a half-lunge with the arms outstretched overhead – as if ready to strike with a sword!

Holding warrior 1 pose activates the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles, as well as the hip flexors. It’s ideal for beginners, but can be made difficult by holding the position for an extended time.

10. Warrior 2 Pose (Virabhadrasana II)

Virabhadrasana II

Warrior 2 pose is generally considered harder than warrior 1 pose, but still easily achievable for most beginners. This is because it involves a degree of balance, similar in appearance to warrior 1 pose but with the torso turned to one side and the arms held apart.

Much like warrior 1 pose, warrior 2 pose also activates the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, core, and hip flexors.

11. Cobbler’s Pose (Baddha Konasana)

Baddha Konasana

Cobbler’s pose is a seated pose with the feet together but the knees spread apart. It’s not a physically demanding pose, and is therefore often done before or after a yoga sequence. 

Due to this, cobbler’s pose is also used as a meditation pose, especially in meditative yoga and yoga that’s focused on breathing exercises (pranayama).

12. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Savasana

Last but not least, corpse pose. Corpse pose involves lying down on your back with your arms by your side – as if sleeping. Needless to say, it’s by far the easiest yoga pose!

For that reason, corpse pose is often incorporated at the end of most yoga routines as a way to wind down and relax.

Conclusion

And there you have it: twelve basic yoga poses that you can do right now without any prior experience or yoga classes. Just like that, you’re doing yoga!

Yoga offers a host of physical and mental benefits, so you would be doing yourself a favor by taking on yoga as your next fitness adventure – or at least incorporating a few yoga sequences into your current exercise routine.

So, what are you waiting for? Try these basic yoga poses today!

Angela Frederik
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