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4 Basic Yoga Poses With Instructions

Learn how to do these four basic yoga moves with proper form.

Learn how to do these four basic yoga moves with proper form.

Basic Yoga Poses

Yoga is great for your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Yoga will improve your life in ways that you can't even imagine. Yoga will make you feel better physically and it will make you a happier person.

There are many different poses that you can use when doing yoga. These poses range from easy to quite difficult and there are poses for beginners and experts alike.

If you're ready to begin yoga, here are four great starting poses and how to perform each of them.

Video Tutorial: Downward Dog

Pose #1: Downward Facing Dog

This is a pose that's used for stretching the entire body, strengthening the body, and resting. During a yoga class, the Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit) is often used as a transitional pose.

Here is how this pose is performed:

  1. Begin on all fours making sure your knees are on the floor and directly below your hips. The palms of your hands should be on the floor and directly below your shoulders.
  2. Curl your toes under and push back with your hands. Raise your hips and straighten your legs.
  3. Spread your fingers and push down with your forearms. Then rotate your upper arms to the outside so that you expand your collarbones.
  4. Just let your head rest and hang loose. Then move your shoulder blades away from your ears and towards your waist.
  5. Make your quadriceps do the work so that most of your weight is on your upper legs. This makes the pose more of a resting pose.
  6. Turn your thighs inward and place your heels flat on the floor. If you're unable to place your heels on the floor then don't force it and don't bring your feet forward to help. Eventually, you will be limber enough to place your heels on the floor.

Keep your butt high the entire time and make sure your hands and feet are the same distance apart.

Video Tutorial: Easy Pose

Pose #2: Easy Pose (Sukasana)

This is a sitting pose that's great for meditation and breathing practice (pranayama). This pose is performed while sitting.

Here's how this pose is performed:

  1. Place padding under your sitting bones (a.k.a. "sitz bones") so that your hips are above your knees when you are sitting with your legs crossed.
  2. Pull one heel toward your groin. The other heel can be on the outside or, if it's comfortable, you can place the heel in your lap.
  3. Make your spine as long as possible. Place your shoulders over your hips. Let your shoulder blades slide lower on your back. The crown of your head should move up toward the ceiling.

That's just how easy the Easy Pose (Sukasana in Sanskrit) really is. From this position, you are now free to meditate or practice breathing.

Mountain Pose (Bending Back)

Mountain Pose (Bending Back)

Video Tutorial: Mountain Pose

Pose #3: Mountain Pose

Mountain pose (Tadasana in Sanskrit) is great for strengthening your thighs and improving your posture. It can also help relieve back pain.

Here's how this pose works:

  1. Stand upright with your feet near each other and with your big toes touching.
  2. Spread out all your toes so that you form a nice solid base. If your ankles bang together you can separate your feet a little more.
  3. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed on both feet and on the front and back of each foot. (Imagine that your feet have four bases—on the front and back of each foot - and make sure your weight is evenly distributed on each base.)
  4. Imagine your feet and legs taking root in the floor. With your feet firmly planted on the floor, flex your quadriceps and draw them up so that your knee caps rise.
  5. Turn your thighs inward so that your sitting bones are drawn apart. Then drop your tail bone in between your sitting bones.
  6. Pull your stomach in slightly. (This will help tone your stomach muscles.)
  7. Widen your collar bone out while making sure your shoulders are directly over your pelvis.
  8. Raise the crown of your head up while making your neck long. Also, let your shoulder blades slide down your back.

This completely brings your body into alignment. You will realize that it isn't that easy once you get into this pose and hold it.

If you have trouble getting into this exact pose then you can stand against a wall. This will help you the first few times you perform this pose.

Video Tutorial: Corpse Pose

Pose #4: Corpse Pose

Corpse pose (Savasana in Sanskrit) is a nice relaxing pose that is performed while lying down. This is a great way to end a yoga session. It allows you to relax while understanding the new information your body just received while doing yoga.

  1. Begin by lying on your back.
  2. Let your feet loosely fall to each side.
  3. Put your arms down beside your body. There should only be a little bit of space between your arms and your body. Your hands should be down with your palms facing up.
  4. Relax your entire body from head to foot. Even let your mouth and cheeks relax. Close your eyes. Your entire body should feel heavy.
  5. Just breathe normally and relax. Stay here as long as you like.
  6. To bring yourself out of this pose, begin to breathe deeply. Then begin to move your fingers and toes as you begin to awaken your body.
  7. Bring your knees to your chest and roll over to one side. Keep your eyes closed this entire time.
  8. Slowly rise up into a sitting position. Then open your eyes whenever you're ready.

This is a great pose to wind up a yoga session. You will feel much better just by taking a few minutes for yoga and by wrapping up your yoga session with the Corpse Pose.

Certainly, there are many other yoga poses, both beginning and advanced, you can use as well. The poses explained here are great for beginners. They are a great place for anyone to begin and you should certainly consider starting with these poses.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Basic Yoga Feedback

unitedyogis on April 01, 2009:

Great lens! You can share this information for other yogis to read at United Yogis - an online community for yoga enthusiasts. You can also upload friend, upload photos and videos, post blogs and participate in forums. Looking forward to seeing you there! :)