As a beginning yoga student, you might feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of poses and their odd-sounding names. Relax—your yoga practice is a lifelong pursuit,1 giving you plenty of time to learn scores of postures.
As you progress, you can take on more challenging poses, but it’s a good idea to keep things simple when you’re just starting out. The basic poses outlined here are valuable enough to keep you occupied for a long time.
Types of Poses
- Standing Poses: Standing poses often done first in a yoga class to “build heat” and get you warmed up. In vinyasa/flow style yoga, standing poses are strung together to form long sequences. In hatha classes, the standing poses may be worked on individually with rest between each pose.
- Balancing Poses: Beginners’ balances are an important way to build the core strength necessary for many of yoga’s more advanced postures. Though balances may seem difficult at first, you will find that you can improve markedly with regular practice.
- Backbends: As a beginner, you will generally begin with gentle flexion and extension of the spine, eventually moving to deeper bends. Since you rarely move like this in daily life, backbends are essential for spinal health and longevity.
- Seated Poses: Seated stretches, which often focus on stretching the hips and hamstrings, are usually done toward the end of a yoga class after the body is warm. Placing a folded blanket or a block under your butt is a good way to make yourself more comfortable in these postures.
- Resting or Supine Poses: It’s important to get to know your resting poses, especially child’s pose, which you are encouraged to do whenever you need a break during a yoga session. These resting poses continue the hip and hamstring work of the seated poses, as well as providing gentle back bending, twisting, and inversion.