Especially if your only impressions of the practice come from crazy-looking poses shared on Instagram or that one class you went to where there were way more "ohms" than actual instructions, who could really blame you for thinking it's not the easiest form of exercise?
Not to say that yoga can't serve as a way to build and challenge your fitness, just that there's no need to see it as scary or impossible.
Because it's not. Sure, there are plenty of demanding poses and balances you can eventually work your way up to if you want, but on the other hand, there are also many poses that are simple and beginner-friendly; no extreme flexibility or superhuman balance necessary.
Ready to reap some of those benefits without feeling entirely overwhelmed? Try starting with these 12 simple and relaxing yoga poses for beginners.
This basic pose simply involves sitting back on top of your heels and looking straight ahead. If it feels good, you can stretch your arms above your head. Otherwise, simply rest your hands on your thighs and hold for three to five deep breaths.
Benefits: Diamond pose can help to calm your mind and strengthen your focus. It may also help to reduce back pain and strengthen your thigh muscles.
A gentle, backbend pose, to perform baby cobra start lying on your belly with your palms flat on the floor directly next your chest. Your fingertips should be in line with the front of your shoulders. Make sure to keep your elbows tucked in close to your sides as you press your hands into the floor and slowly lift your chest into a slight backbend. Concentrate on pressing your shoulder blades into your upper back and expanded your chest as you breathe in. Hold for three to five deep breaths.
Benefits: This pose will help counteract any pain or tension built up from spending long hours seated and hunched over your computer.
Start on all fours with a neutral spine. To enter cow pose, on an inhale slowly lift your pelvis and chest towards the ceiling so that your stomach moves towards the ground. Lift your head and gaze up towards the ceiling as well. Transition into cat by drawing your chin into your chest and rounding out your spine as you exhale. Repeat this sequence for four to eight deep breaths.
Benefits: Paired together these two poses can help to improve posture, strengthen and stretch the spine and neck, stretch the hips, abdomen and back, and relieve stress and calm the mind.
Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet about hip-width distance apart. Rest your arms alongside your torso with your palms facing down. On an inhale, slowly lift your pelvis off the ground, pushing your hips towards the ceiling. Hold for three to five deep breaths.
Benefits: Bridge pose helps to stretch your neck, chest, spine and hips while also strengthening your back, glutes and hamstrings.
Begin standing up straight with your feet together and core engaged. On an inhale, lift your arms above your head and join your palms together. Exhale as you bend your knees (as far as feels comfortable) and sit back into a squat position, making sure to keep your heels flat on the floor. Hold for three to five deep breaths.
Benefits: Chair pose can help to strengthen the quads, calves, spine and ankles as well as stretch the shoulders and chest.
Start on all fours and raise yourself off the ground into a high-plank position. Keep your core tight as you slowly raise your hips towards the ceiling. Maintain straight legs as you gently draw your heels to the ground (as far as feels comfortable for you). Keep your palms flat and let your neck relax so that your gaze lands between your feet. Hold for three to five deep breaths.
Benefits: Downward dog is know for helping to calm the mind and relieve stress. It can also help to energize the body while stretching the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, hands and the arches of the feet.
Start in a high-plank position and slowly draw your left leg forward to rest it between your hands. Keep your right leg straight and press through your right foot as you press your fingers or palms (whichever reaches more easily) into the floor. Retract your shoulders back and down and open your chest as you arch forward slightly. Hold for three to five deep breaths before stepping your left leg back and repeating the sequence on the other side.
Benefits: Low lunge can help to release tension in the hips and also stretches the hamstrings, quads and groin.
Begin on all fours (hands and knees) with your hands on the floor directly underneath your shoulders about shoulder-width distance apart. On an inhale, lift up off of your knees by completely extending your legs behind you. Tuck your toes under so that your entire body is lifted up off the ground, supported by your arms and legs. Keep your spine neutral and your core engaged as you hold the high-plank position for three to five deep breaths.
Benefits: As an isometric contraction, high plank effectively strengthens the abdominal muscles as well as the arms, wrists and spine.
Begin sitting up straight with your legs together and extended in front of you. On an inhale, raise your arms above your head and extend your spine upward. On the exhale, slowly fold forward at your hips. Keep your spine neutral (try not to round your back) and reach your hands to your feet or the spot on your legs where the stretch feels most comfortable. Take a deep breath in and lengthen your spine, then on the exhale try to fold forward a little bit more. Repeat this sequence for three to five deep breaths.
Benefits: Seated forward bend stretches the spine, hamstrings and shoulders and may help to calm the mind and even relieve symptoms of stress and mild depression.
Start standing up straight with your left foot planted firmly on the ground. Bend your right knee and use your hands to help lift if up to rest on the inside of your left thigh or calf. Never rest your foot on your knee, either place it above on your thigh or below on your calf, whichever feels more comfortable for you. Find your balance and bring your hands together to rest near your chest. Hold for three to five deep breaths before switching to the other side.
Benefits: Tree pose helps strengthen the thighs, calves, ankles and spine, while also helping to improve balance and stretch the groin and inner thighs.
Start standing tall with your legs spread as far as feels comfortable for you. Place your hands on your hips and fold forward at your hips, arching slightly. Lower your hands towards the ground then reach them out towards your feet. If they reach, place your hands on your ankles or the tops of your feet. Keep the top of your head pointed towards the ground and extend your pelvis upwards. Hold for three to five breaths before releasing and slowly returning to standing position. (Your neck should be the last thing to rise.)
Benefits: The wide-legged forward bend can help to stretch and strengthen the inner thighs, hamstrings and spine while also engaging the core and providing some relaxation benefits, too.
Begin kneeling on the floor with your big toes touching and your knees spread slightly wider than hip-width distance apart. Sit back onto your heels and exhale as you slowly lower your torso towards the floor in between your thighs. Lengthen your spine as you stretch your arms out towards the front of the mat, you can place your hands flat on the ground or place them in a prayer pose. Hold for three to five deep breaths.
Benefits: Child's pose is known for stretching the hips, ankles and thighs while also helping to calm the mind and relieve stress and fatigue.