12 essential yoga poses for everyone

Women showing a yoga pose

Yoga is for everyone, and the beauty of it is you do not need to be an expert to gain the benefits. All you need is motivation, consistency, and complete information to start.

Here are the 12 essential yoga poses that everyone can practice every day.

Mountain yoga pose

The Mountain pose (Tadasana) might seem simple, but it is a foundational pose for all the standing poses. It is an active pose that improves posture, balance, breathing, circulation, and focus. A correctly executed mountain pose targets every muscle of the body.

Step-by-step instructions

  • Stand with your feet together and arms relaxing at your sides. Lift your toes, fan them out and press them down into the mat.
  • Focus on balancing your weight evenly between the balls of your feet, then draw attention to your thigh muscles.
  • Squeeze the inner thigh muscles and raise the kneecaps.
  • Now slightly shift your hips forward to lower the tailbone.
  • Engage the core and lower back muscles, so your spine lines up above the tailbone.
  • Shrug your shoulders to stretch the torso and then roll them back.
  • Look straight ahead and hold the pose for 5 to 8 breaths.

Chair yoga pose

The Chair Pose (Utkatasana) is one of the most potent yoga poses. This pose strengthens and heat-building asana that brings all parts of your body together into a unified and powerful whole.

Step-by-step instructions

  • Breath in and raise your arms overhead so that your arms are just in front of your ears. Keep the arms parallel (palms facing inward) or join the palms together.
  • Then exhale and bend your knees to parallel your thighs to the floor. Your knees will go out over your feet, and the trunk will bend slightly forward over your thighs until your front torso forms a right angle with the tops of your thighs.
  • Now keep your inner thighs parallel to each other and press the heads of the thigh bones down toward your heels.
  • Next, tighten your shoulder blades against your back and straighten your lower back.
  • You need to stay for 30 seconds to a minute in this yoga pose. When coming out of this pose, straighten your knees with an inhalation, lifting intensely through your arms. Then, exhale and release your arms.

Tree yoga pose

Tree pose (Vrikshasana) is a balancing asana that helps strengthen the ligaments and tendons in your feet. This yoga practice requires proper weight distribution, thus providing stability.

Step-by-step instructions

  • Start with a mountain pose and take a deep breath.
  • Place your hands on your hips and lift the right foot while shifting your weight on the left foot.
  • Keep your left leg straight, pressing your right foot and left leg into each other.
  • When you feel balanced, stretch your arms overhead.
  • Hold this position for several breaths and repeat for another side.

Plank pose

Plank pose (Phalakasana) targets entire body muscles in one static position. According to the experts, the plank pose strengthens the arms, wrists, and shoulders, improving the body posture.

Step-by-step instructions

  • From all fours, bring your wrists under the shoulders and spread your fingers.
  • Breathe smoothly, keep your thighs lifted, and not let your chest collapse.
  • Gaze down between your palms and keep pushing the floor away with your palms.
  • Stay in this pose for 3 to 5 minutes.

Cobra pose

Cobra pose (Bhujangasana) is a reclining back-bend alternative to the upward-facing dog. This yoga pose increases the flexibility of the spine, relieves back pain, and strengthens spine muscles.

Step-by-step instructions

  • Start on your belly with feet hip-width apart and palms directly under the shoulder.
  • Inhale and lift your head and chest off the floor, rolling the shoulders back.
  • Keep the back of your neck long and focus on lifting the chest, not the chin.
  • Hold for some seconds and then exhale to release back to the floor.

Downward-facing dog

Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) is a best-known foundational pose you learn when starting a yoga practice. This asana increases the strength of external oblique muscles and helps relieve chronic back pain.

Step-by-step instructions

  • Come onto your hand and knees with your hands slightly in front of the shoulders and knees underneath the hips.
  • Exhale and push back through your hands to lift your hips and straighten the legs.
  • On an exhalation, rotate your thighs inward, keep your tail high, stretch the heels towards the floor and straighten the knees without locking them.
  • Check that the distance between your hands and feet is correct. Stay in this pose for at least 8 to 10 breaths.

Garland pose

Garland Pose (Malansana) is a form of a deep squat. It stretches the thighs, groin, hips, ankles, and torso. It reshapes the abdominal muscles and improves the function of the colon to help with elimination. Malasana poses also increase circulation in the pelvis, improving sexual energy.

Step-by-step instructions

  • Stand with your feet width apart and turn your toes out
  • Bend the knees and lower your buttock toward the floor to come into a squat.
  • Take your arms inside your knees and bend the elbows to bring the palms together into Anjali mudra (prayer position).
  • Keep your spine straight, your buttock moving toward the floor, and your shoulders relaxed away from your ears.
  • Stay here for five breaths, then straighten the legs to come out. You can come directly into a Forward Fold if you like.
  • Try repeating the pose three times to take full advantage.

Child’s pose

The child’s pose (Balasana) is the most important resting posture that stretches all body muscles. You can use this yoga pose to rest, refocus, and prepare yourself to move forward.

Step-by-step instructions

  • Kneel on the floor with knees hip-width apart and toes together.
  • Exhale and bring your belly to the rest between your thighs.
  • Root your forehead to the floor, relax your shoulders and extend your arms with palms facing downwards.
  • Rest in the pose for some time.

Extended triangles yoga pose

The extended triangle pose (Trikonasana) is one of the key standing asanas in most styles of yoga. Your body forms various-sized triangles in this posture while activating different body muscles.

This pose is not so difficult but also not so easy. Therefore, you need to maintain full concentration while practising this pose, which can help improve your focus.

Step-by-step instructions

  • From the mountain pose, step your feet 3 to 4 feet apart.
  • Raise your arms parallel to the floor and lower your right hand to the floor, and your left fingertips reach the ceiling.
  • Turn your head to gaze up towards the left fingertips, only if it feels comfortable.
  • Stay in this position for at least 5 breaths, and then repeat for the left side.

Crescent Lunge yoga pose 

Crescent lunge yoga pose (Anjaneyasana) is a lunging back bending asana in modern yoga that stretches hip flexors and quadriceps. This posture helps increase the flexibility, tone, and strength of the thighs, hips, chest, and front torso muscles.

Step-by-step instructions

  • Step your right knee forward and left knee backward from a low lunge.
  • Drop your left knee to the mat and bend your right knee at 90 degrees with your right knee directly over your right ankle.
  • Inhale and raise your arms above your head, ensuring that your arms are straight.
  • Lift and straighten your back leg strongly, drawing your knees and quadriceps towards the ceiling.
  • Stay in this pose for 30 sec to 1 minute, and then exhale to release the hands down.

Four-limbed staff yoga pose

Four-limbed staff pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) builds strength in the arms, shoulders, wrists, and back. This asana in modern yoga boosts energy, fights fatigue, builds confidence, and activates abdominal muscles to increase stability.

Step-by-step instructions

  • From standing forward fold, step into a push-up position.
  • Press into the palms with arms straight and shoulders slightly ahead of the wrists.
  • Tuck the tailbone, so the body gets in a straight line.
  • Inhale and draw your body away from the floor.
  • Exhale and slowly lower your body until your elbows are around 90 degrees.

Seated half spinal twist pose

The seated half spinal twist pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana) is a restorative yoga pose that increases the flexibility of your back and helps relieve back pain. This pose also promotes digestion, tones the belly, and helps massage the internal organs.

Step-by-step instructions

  • Sit on the floor with your hands on the floor and legs straighten in front of you.
  • Bend your right knee and place your right foot next to the outside of your left thigh.
  • Hook your left elbow around your bent right knee without shortening the left side of the waist. Take several breaths here, and with each exhale, twist your body further.
  • Release this pose and repeat it on the left side.

The Bottom Line

Yoga is a good way to achieve physical and mental well-being. As a beginner learns these 12 yoga poses and put them into practice every day.


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