The Most Basic Yoga Poses Are Also The Most Important & Here’s How You Really Do Them
If you're new to yoga, that feeling of anticipation to roll out your mat each day is truly magical, to say the least. You fantasize about flowing at your favorite class while you're at work, and you low-key long to achieve the more advanced asanas that your fellow yogis are doing alongside you in the studio. However, the most basic yoga poses are actually the most essential, regardless of whether or not you're a beginner. These poses provide the foundation for a strong and balanced yoga practice, and it's important to establish a solid relationship with them from the get-go.
Though poses like downward facing dog and child's pose aren't exactly the most "impressive" or "flashy," they're actually even more important than the advanced postures, because mastering the basics provides the building blocks and stability for your entire practice. I remember, when I was training to become a certified yoga teacher, we did hundreds and hundreds of chaturangas. At the time, I hated it, but now, I know that it's made me incredibly powerful, and it's even helped me develop a profound sense of respect toward my body and mind, and all that they're capable of in my yoga practice.
It's important to take your time teaching yourself how to do each beginner yoga pose so that your body will become accustomed to and familiar with these various shapes. All of these basic yoga poses are so integral to your overall practice, so remember to trust the process, be mindful of your alignment, and know that the strength behind these simple asanas is being developed behind the scenes to help you grow into the strongest version of yourself.
1. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
Sukhasana is a basic seated yoga posture that is often used to practice breathing or meditation in yoga.
Easy pose may seem wildly simple, but if you focus on maintaining proper posture, relaxing your muscles, and keeping your body in alignment, this asana will become an extremely beneficial pose to your overall practice, both mentally and physically.
2. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Mountain pose proves that the simple act of standing still and grounding yourself can actually be pretty damn challenging.
When you're in tadasana, draw your belly button inward toward your spine, and relax your shoulders as you lift your kneecaps and spiral your inner thighs inward.
Now that's a lot of work, amirite? Don't forget to breathe!
3. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasna)
Downward facing dog strengthens and lengthens the entire body, representing the true beauty that occurs at the crossroad between strength and flexibility.
At first, holding adho mukha svanasna for prolonged periods of time might tire you out and feel uncomfortable. Keep practicing, my friend — in time, downward facing dog will feel like an inviting home base within your practice.
4. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
Warrior I builds strength, confidence, and stamina by conditioning the lower body and core, while simultaneously opening up your heart a bit in your yoga flow.
In this pose, the front body will be stretched wide open, while the lower body will become rooted and more powerful — a perfect storm for advancing your practice further down the road.
5. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Warrior II provides another incredible building block for hip strength and an open heart, not to mention unwaveringly graceful arms. This pose will seem pretty easy if you hold it for a couple of breaths, but after staying in the asana for a minute or two, you'll really begin to appreciate the immense power and focus it demands.
6. Upward Facing Dog (Urdhvamukha Shvanasana)
Upward facing dog strengthens your wrists, shoulders, and arms, while also stretching out your chest and spine. This makes the pose an ideal prep for both arm balances and deeper backbends later on in your practice. If you make sure to do upward facing dog consistently, and you're mindful of engaging your muscles and staying with your breath while you're in this pose, you'll be able to accomplish anything in your practice.
7. Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
Chaturangas are absolutely imperative to master within your practice, because they are truly the firm and stable building block for all complicated arm balances you might be dreaming of down the road.
According to Yoga Outlet, the "staff" part of four-limbed staff pose refers to your spine, which is essentially the main support system of your entire body. You'll really want to keep your spine as straight as an arrow here, and remember to always engage your core muscles, even when the asana doesn't necessarily focus on that part of your body.
8. Child's Pose (Balasana)
Child's pose is used to help you rest in a yoga flow, and it's especially important when it comes to finding mental stillness after those moments of hard work. Balasana allows the body and mind to relax, restore, and come back to center.
If an instructor asks you to take child's pose, always abide, my friend. Balasana helps you master the art of listening to your body's needs, and it teaches you the importance of not pushing past your limits, especially when it will do more harm than good.