12 Yoga Poses Anyone (Even You!) Can Do from 12 Yoga Poses Anyone Can Do

12 Yoga Poses Anyone Can Do

12 Yoga Poses Anyone (Even You!) Can Do

Flickr/Patrick Savalle

When you think of a yogi what comes to mind? If it’s a slender Indian man with his feet wrapped around his head, you’re not alone. Those who partake in this ancient practice have a reputation for being flexible. But here’s a secret: Many of them didn’t start out that way. 

By simply beginning a regular yoga regimen, you can begin to see positive results, said Bryn Chrisman, director of Yogamaya in New York City.

“Take it slow and don’t worry if things don’t look perfect like in pictures you have seen,” Chrisman said. “Keep breathing, keep practicing. Any amount of practice will [provide] benefits.”

Yoga can not only increase your flexibility, but can also improve balance, lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and foster other health benefits.

If you want to try a few beginner postures at home before heading to the studio, check out our list of yoga poses anyone can do. This way, you can get a head start on some of the core asanas. For some of the positions, you’ll need a few props, such as bolsters or blocks. These can help you stay comfortable and maintain proper technique.

When you feel ready, head to a yoga studio where an experienced teacher will help you build your skills and achieve the best results.

In the following slideshow, Gianna Gioia from Yogamaya studio demonstrates 12 yoga moves anyone can do.

 

Downward Facing Dog

Megan Taylor Morrison

Start on all fours. Hands should be shoulder distance apart with fingers spread and legs should be hip distance apart. Tuck your toes under and begin to lift your knees off the ground.  When you knees are lifted about 12 inches, press your chest towards your legs and straighten your legs and arms as much as possible. Initially, you may not be able to reach full extension due to tight shoulders or hamstrings. If this is the case, allow the legs to stay slightly bent, keeping the chest moving toward your thighs. If your shoulders are tight, try turning your fingers slightly to the sides to create a little more space.

Wide Leg Forward Fold

Megan Taylor Morrison

Take a wide stance on your mat with your arms stretched out parallel to the floor.  Your ankles should be below your wrists, although you can step wider if you feel stable. Inhale and lift your chest, then exhale and fold down over your legs. Relax your head so that it hangs downward and actively pull your shoulders down away from the neck. Focus on engaging your quadriceps to help support the opening of the hamstrings as you remain in the pose.
Over time, you may be able to get the crown of your head to the floor (or even your head between your feet!), although initially you can use a block or bolster to support the top of your head.

Warrior 2

Megan Taylor Morrison

Starting from the wide leg and open-arm standing position, turn your left foot slightly in and turn your right foot forward to be parallel with your mat. Lift your chest up with determination and bend your right knee so that the thigh becomes parallel with the floor.  Extend the back leg until it is straight while pressing the entire foot down. Keep your bent knee directly over your front heel, not allowing it to collapse or fall toward the right side of your mat.  Keep your torso vertical as your reach through your arms. Repeat on the other side. This pose will open your chest and hips, as well as build strength. 

Extended Side Angle With A Block

Megan Taylor Morrison

Place a medium or tall block to the outside of your right foot and move into the same starting position as Warrior 2, with your left foot slightly turned in and turn your right foot parallel with your mat. Lifting through your chest, bend your right knee so that your thigh becomes parallel to the floor. Actively extend your arms and allow your right side to move out over your right thigh. When you’ve moved out as far as you can, place your right hand on the block. Making sure your back leg is planted firmly into the ground, turn your chest toward the left and up to the sky.  Your left arm should stretch overhead and you should feel a long line of energy from your back foot to the tips of your fingers. Repeat on the other side.

Triangle Pose With A Block

Megan Taylor Morrison

Place a tall block just behind your right calf.  From the same starting pose as extended side angle, move your right hip toward the left to extend your body over your right leg. Reach until you are fully extended, then place your right hand on the block. Open your chest by turning toward the left and up toward the sky. Then, extend your left arm up. Think about engaging your leg muscles as you stretch your feet into the floor. Repeat on other side.

Squat With A Block

Megan Taylor Morrison

Stand with your feet as wide as the width of your mat.  Inhale and bring your arms overhead with your chin up, exhale and bring your arms down as you fold forward over your legs.  If your hands do not reach the floor, place blocks under them for support.  Turn your feet slightly out and sink your hips down toward the floor.  Depending on your hip and knee flexibility, you may need to use a block under your sitting bones for support and to make sure this hip-opening pose is comfortable. To exit, bring your fingers to the floor (or blocks) in front of you and lean into them. Begin to lengthen your legs. On an inhale, straighten your legs and bring your arms up overhead. Exhale and bring your arms back down to your sides.

Standing Side Lean

Megan Taylor Morrison

Stand with your inner feet touching. Lift your arms overhead and interlace your fingers into a gentle fist. Allow the pointer fingers to extend up from your hands to create a steady point. Pressing into your outer left foot and steadying both feet into the ground, start to lean to the right, away from the anchor of your feet and legs. Stretch your left side body by lifting the torso out away from the hips and stretching it to the right. After a few breaths, allow your left ribs to turn slightly downward toward the floor in front of you for a deeper stretch across the lower left side and abdominals. On an inhale, return to standing and separate your hands. Exhale and bring your arms back down to your sides. Repeat on the other side and always be conscious not do overdo the bend.

Cobra

Megan Taylor Morrison

Lying on your stomach, bring your hands to the floor in line with your chest.  Keeping your thighs, pelvis, and feet firmly rooting into the floor, press your hands down to lift your chest up. Each time you breathe, see if you can lift your chest slightly higher. As you lift more and more, gather the outer elbows behind you, release your shoulders away from your neck, and take the outer shoulder blades back. Lift your chin for an extra stretch in your abdominals.  

Plank

Megan Taylor Morrison

From downward facing dog, move your chest forward until your shoulders are over your wrists and your body makes one, long line. To engage the legs, think about bringing the front muscles (the quads) toward the back muscles (the hamstrings). Pressing into the floor so that the whole hand is actively engaged, turn the inside of your elbows toward the front of the room. Hold the pose without letting your body sink down. You can start with just a few breaths and work up to holding plank longer as you gain strength. To exit the pose, push back into downward facing dog on an exhale.

High Lunge

Megan Taylor Morrison

Starting from the center of your mat with your feet touching, step your right foot forward and your left foot back for a very wide stance. Ground fully down in the front foot and lift the heel of your back foot. Keep your back heel up, making sure the entire ball of your foot is engaged, and bend your front leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor.  Lift your arms overhead and reach up through your chest. Little by little, work the back leg straight.

To exit, bring your hands to your hips on an inhale, lean your weight to the front foot and step the back foot half way in. Then, step the front foot back, bringing the feet together. Repeat the move on the other side.

Pigeon

Megan Taylor Morrison

From downward dog, inhale and lift your right leg up to the sky. When you exhale, take your right shin to the floor behind your hands. With a slightly bent knee, your right foot should point down toward your pelvis. Place some support (blankets, a bolster or pillow) under your right hip so that your pelvis is even. As your flexibility increases, you can remove this support.
Extend your left leg back in line with your hip, being careful not to let the leg splay out to the side. As you breathe, allow your hips to open with the stretch. When you feel comfortable, move your forearms onto the floor in front of you. Stay in this pose for several breaths to several minutes. Exit back by walking the hands back up, tucking the back toes under, lifting the knee and stepping back to downward dog. Repeat on the other side.

Savasana (Corpse Pose)

Megan Taylor Morrison

At the end of your yoga practice, your reward is this final resting pose. Lie on your back with your legs slightly separated and fully relaxed. Place your hands palms up and your arms a comfortable distance from your body. With your eyes closed, purposefully let go of any tensions, opinions or anxiety that come into your mind. Allow yourself 5-10 minutes in this pose.