Five Yoga Poses for Beginners

Never tried yoga? No problem! Here are five poses to get you started.
Stacey Allaire in downward dog. Photo provided

Stacey Allaire in downward dog. Photo provided

It may seem like you’re the last person in the world to try yoga. You’re not (trust us!). Newbies are still trying yoga every day. Here are five beginning poses that you can master at home from Stacey Allaire, yoga instructor at Rasamaya yoga studio in Newburyport.

1. Downward Dog
This pose (pictured above) is so common, you probably know what it is even without ever stepping foot in a yoga class. Once you fully understand how your body should properly be aligned, this pose can be quite relaxing. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide. You should have a long, straight spine with your tailbone reaching upwards.

cat and cow pose. Photo via Shutterstock

cat and cow pose. Photo via Shutterstock

Cat and Cow poses. Photo via shutterstock

Cat and Cow poses. Photo via shutterstock

2. Cat/Cow Pose
This is actually two poses, but are nearly always done together. They are intended to give flexibility to the back, restoring strength to the spine and helping prevent spinal injury. First, come into table, with your hands under your shoulders, and knees under your hips. Start with a smooth flat back with your gaze down at your hands with fingers spread. First, to do cat pose, round your back, relax your neck and gaze back towards your knees and upper thighs, while pushing into the earth with your hands. This is all done as you exhale. To move into cow pose, take a deep inhalation. Start from your tailbone and drop your belly slowly, letting the curve reverse. Raise your head, looking towards the sky. Move from cow pose to cat pose several times, making sure the arching and releasing of the spine is smooth and slow.

Women in mountain pose. Photo via Shutterstock.

Woman in mountain pose. Photo via Shutterstock.

3. Mountain Pose
When done properly, mountain pose engages muscles throughout your legs, core, back, and shoulders. And, no you are not just standing still in this posture. Mountain pose is a great way to learn proper posture, alignment, and balance. To begin, root all four corners of your feet into your mat. You can lift your ten toes and give them a wiggle to help you root into your feet. Next, soften the bend in your knees as you tuck your tailbone. Engage your core and release your shoulders down your spine. Reach your crown of head towards the sky. Relax the muscles in your face and gently close your eyes or fix your gaze a few feet ahead of you.

Tree pose photo via Shutterstock

Tree pose photo via Shutterstock

4. Tree pose
This is a great balance posture to try out, especially if you’re new to yoga. There are many modifications of this pose, so it’s great for beginners. To begin, come into mountain pose. From there shift your weight into one leg, moving the opposite foot to the inside of the standing leg (it can be anywhere above or below the knee, depending on where your balance level is that day). Once balanced, bring hands in front of you in prayer position, palms together. You can lift arms up overhead, opening arms wide, making a giant “V” with your arms. Breathe slowly for a three to eight count and then release and switch legs.

upward dog. Photo via Shutterstock

upward dog. Photo via Shutterstock

5. Upward-facing dog
Another very common yoga pose, as this pose is included within the popular Sun Salutation sequence. Begin on your stomach. Stretch your legs back, with the tops of your feet on the floor. Place your hands below your shoulders. Tuck your elbows in towards your body. As you inhale, root your hands into the earth and begin to straighten your arms. At the same time, your torso will lift, beaming your chest, heart center, forward. Keep your thighs firm and slightly turned inward, the arms firm and turned out so the elbow creases face forward.

Melissa Malamut
Melissa Malamut Melissa Malamut, Senior Editor, Health, at Boston Magazine