The benefits of yoga are many – from stretching and strengthening the body to calming the mind and promoting relaxation. Like any physical activity, mastering the practice can take years – but there are plenty of yoga poses for beginners that people of any level can try and enjoy. Each of these poses has its own unique challenges and benefits, and can be practiced alone or as part of a series. So get into some comfy clothes, roll out a mat and get some yoga in your life. Namaste!
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet together, toes touching and heels slightly separated. Spread your weight evenly through your feet and lift through the crown of your head. Pull your shoulders back and down and breathe easy.
BENEFITS: Balance, patience, and bringing your attention to the here and now.
2. DOWNWARD-FACING DOG
SANSKRIT: Adho Mukha Svanasana
HOW TO DO IT: Get down on all fours, and then move your hands forward a bit. Tuck your toes and lift your hips up and back, straightening your legs if you can. Press your palms into the ground, rotate your shoulders outwards and engage your thigh muscles.
BENEFITS: Shoulder opening, spine lengthening, leg stretching and calming the mind.
3. WARRIOR II
SANSKRIT: Virabhadrasana II
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet wide apart and turn your right foot out 90 degrees with the arch inline with the heel of your front foot. Bend your left knee to a 90 degree angle, keeping it inline with your foot. Stretch through your back leg and press your back foot into the ground. Reach both arms up to shoulder high, keep your shoulders down, and gaze gently over your front fingers. Hold for five slow, steady breaths and repeat on the other side.
BENEFITS: Strengthens the leg muscles and steadies the mind.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with feet wide apart, left foot slightly in and right foot turned to 90 degrees. Spread arms wide at shoulder height, and reach over your right leg as far as you can. Release bottom hand to the front ankle or wherever you can without bending the back. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the other side.
BENEFITS: Promotes balance, stretches legs and both sides of the back.
HOW TO DO IT: Begin in mountain pose, then bend one knee and place it on either the inner thigh or below the knee. Hold your hands in front of you in prayer position and fix your gaze on one spot directly in front of you. Hold for 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.
BENEFITS: Balance and concentration.
6. BOUND ANGLE
SANSKRIT: Baddha Konasana
HOW TO DO IT: Sit on the floor with knees bent and the soles of the feet touching. Let your knees fall to the side. Hold your feet and lean forward as far as you can without bending the back.
BENEFITS: Stretching and strengthening the inner thighs and groin muscles, calming the mind.
SANSKRIT: Eka pada rajakapotasana
HOW TO DO IT: Start in plank position, with your palms directly below your shoulders and legs straight. Bring your left knee directly behind your left arm and your left foot behind your right arm, and lower your hips to the floor. Press through the hands and sit back with your chest open, then lower to the floor for a deep stretch. Repeat on the right side.
BENEFITS: Opens the shoulders, chest and quad muscles and encourages perseverance.
8. CHILD’S POSE
HOW TO DO IT: Sit upright on your heels, roll your torso forwards and rest your head on the mat in front of you. Extend your arms forward and sink your chest into your knees. Breathe deeply and release into the pose.
BENEFITS: Deep relaxation, stretches the hips and thighs, releases the back and neck.
9. ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING
SANSKRIT: Nadi sodhana
HOW TO DO IT: Find a comfortable seated position and take a few deep breaths. Rest your left hand on your left knee, and bring the right hand to the nose. First, cover the left nostril with your pinkie finger and inhale through the right nostril for a count of four. Hold the breath for four, then exhale through the left nostril by covering the right nostril with the thumb. Inhale through the left nostril, hold for four then switch fingers and release through the right nostril. Continue for at least 20 breaths or until you feel calm and clear-headed.
BENEFITS: Relieves stress and anxiety, eases headaches and cleans the lymphatic system.
HOW TO DO IT: Lay on your back, with the legs slighty separated and the feet released to the side. Flop your arms at your sides with the palms facing up. Close your eyes and relax, keeping your attention on releasing every part of your body.
BENEFITS: Relaxes the mind, allows the body to absorb the benefits of the yoga practice.
This article originally appeared on Goodnet.org and is republished here with permission.