11 Yoga Poses for Strength and Flexibility

11 Yoga Poses for Strength and Flexibility

If getting into yoga practice seems overwhelming, just remember that you can take it slow. Rather than jumping into a full practice, you can learn a few poses at a time and practice them until you’re ready for more.

Below are some poses that are great for beginners, and that can help you build up your strength, balance and flexibility to tackle a longer practice or more difficult poses down the road. 

Bridge Pose

Bridge PoseLie on the floor with your knees bent and directly over your heels.

Place your arms at your sides, palms down. Exhale, then press your feet into the floor as you lift your hips.

Clasp your hands under your lower back and press your arms down, lifting your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor, bringing your chest toward your chin. Hold for 1 minute.

To make it easier: Place a stack of pillows underneath your tailbone.

Mountain Pose

Stand tall with your feet together, shoulders relaxed, weight evenly distributed through your soles, arms at sides.

Take a deep breath and raise your hands overhead, palms facing each other with your arms straight. Reach up toward the sky with your fingertips.

Downward Dog

Downward Dog

Start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders, and knees under your hips.

Walk your hands a few inches forward and spread your fingers wide, pressing your palms into the mat.

Curl your toes under and slowly press your hips toward the ceiling, bringing your body into an inverted V, pressing your shoulders away from your ears. Your feet should be hip-width apart, knees slightly bent.

Hold for 3 full breaths.

Warrior

Stand with your legs 3 to 4 feet apart, turning your right foot out 90 degrees and left foot in slightly.

Bring your hands to your hips and relax your shoulders, then extend your arms out to the sides, palms down.

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Bend your right knee 90 degrees, keeping your knee over your ankle; gaze out over your right hand. Hold for 1 minute.

Switch sides and repeat.

Tree Pose

Tree PoseStand with your arms at your sides.

Shift your weight onto your left leg and place the sole of your right foot inside your left thigh, keeping your hips facing forward.

Once balanced, bring your hands in front of you in prayer position, palms together.

On an inhalation, extend your arms over your shoulders, palms separated and facing each another. Hold for 30 seconds.

Lower and repeat on the opposite side.

To make it easier: Bring your right foot to the inside of your left ankle, keeping your toes on the floor for balance. As you get stronger and develop better balance, move your foot to the inside of your left calf.

Triangle Pose

Stand with your feet about 3 feet apart, toes on your right foot turned out to 90 degrees, and your left foot turned to 45 degrees.

Extend your arms out to the sides, then bend sideways at your hips so your torso moves over your right leg.

Allow your right hand to touch the floor or rest on your right leg, either below or above the knee. Extend the fingertips of your left hand toward the ceiling.

Turn your gaze toward the ceiling, and hold for 5 breaths.

Stand and repeat on opposite side.

Seated Twist

Seated TwistSit on the floor with your legs extended.

Cross your right foot over the outside of your left thigh; bend your left knee. Keep your right knee pointed toward the ceiling.

Place your left elbow to the outside of your right knee and your right hand on the floor behind you.

Twist right as far as you can, moving from your abdomen; keep both sides of your butt on the floor. Stay for 1 minute.

Switch sides and repeat.

To make it easier: Keep your bottom leg straight and place both hands on your raised knee. If your lower back rounds forward, sit on a folded blanket.

Cobra

Lie facedown on the floor with your thumbs directly under your shoulders, legs extended with the tops of your feet on the floor.

Tighten your pelvic floor, and tuck your hips downward as you squeeze your glutes.

Press your shoulders down and away from your ears.

Push through your thumbs and index fingers as you raise your chest toward the wall in front of you.

Relax and repeat.

Pigeon Pose

Pigeon PoseBegin in a full push-up position, with your palms aligned under your shoulders.

Bring your left knee forward, bending your leg, and place your left knee on the floor near your left shoulder and your left heel on the floor by your right hip.

Lower down to your forearms and lower your right leg to the ground, resting the top of your right foot on the floor.

Keep your chest lifted to the wall in front of you, gazing down.

If you’re more flexible, bring your chest down to the floor and extend your arms in front of you.

Pull your navel in toward your spine and tighten your pelvic-floor muscles; contract the right side of your glutes.

Curl your right toes under while pressing the ball of your right foot into the floor, pushing through your heel and straightening your right leg so your knee lifts up off the floor.

Bend your right knee to the floor and release; do 5 reps total, then switch sides and repeat.

Crow Pose

Get into downward dog position (palms pressed into mat, feet hip-width apart) and walk your feet forward until your knees touch your arms.

Bend your elbows, lift your heels off the floor, and rest your knees against the outside of your upper arms. Keep your toes on the floor, abs engaged and legs pressed against your arms. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.

Child’s Pose

Child's PoseSit up comfortably on your heels.

Roll your torso forward, bringing your forehead to rest on the floor in front of you.

Lower your chest as close to your knees as you comfortably can, extending your arms in front of you.

Hold the pose and breathe.

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This article is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as or substituted for medical advice.  Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health care provider with any questions about your health or a medical condition.  Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have read on the internet.