10 Yoga Poses for Beginners

Fitness, Modified Yoga Poses, Mountain Pose, Stonewear Designs, Warrior Pose, Yoga -

This week’s Tidbits come from yoga instructor Rebecca Louzan Monroe. Rebecca shows us some easy steps to achieve your yoga goals–no matter your age, body type, or fitness level. Try these poses to relax, tone, and introduce yourself to the practice.

Yoga translates to “yoke” or to “unite.” The very name “Yoga” refers to the unity of one’s body with the  heart and mind. Thousands of years ago, the birth of yoga had absolutely nothing to do with the postures that we see today. In fact, the postures were later included as augmentations to meditation and pranayama, or controlled breathing. Yoga postures, “asanas” were developed simply to prepare the body to sit in meditation without discomfort or pain. The asanas provided movements and positions that created greater strength and flexibility to prepare one’s body for seated time for inner reflection toward unity to the divine within the heart. Ironically, most of us modern day Americans are drawn to the practice primarily for its physical fitness benefits, and then secondarily find ourselves creating greater and deeper inner connections as a surprising byproduct. For beginners, yoga can seem daunting. It is common to associate yoga with a certain body image or level of flexibility. All too often, I hear, “I can’t do yoga. I’m too tight/sore/inflexible/old/heavy/weak/injured.” In these cases, the head gets in the way before the body ever gets moving, and so the heart never gets the chance to open through a yoga practice. My greatest advice to the yoga beginner is to quiet that inner voice that’s telling you you can’t do it, and to allow your body to start where you are in this moment. It’s the greatest gift you can give yourself: the opportunity to accept YOU just as you are today. As you gently quiet the inner critic, I think you will be surprised how much room you make to evolve–mind, body, and heart. Everyone can do yoga. And I do mean everyone.

Pose #1: Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

Cow Pose
Be kind to your spine! Gently warm up the spine and increase full range of motion of the cervical spine in the neck all the way down to the sacral spine at the tailbone. Begin on all fours with hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Dropping the belly button toward the floor, lift the tailbone and the gaze up toward the ceiling, feeling the intercostal muscles in the front body expand gently.
“But I Can’t” Modifications: 
  • If you have sensitive knee caps Pad the knee caps with a blanket
  • If you have sensitive wrists: Walk the hands forward
  • If your neck is tight: Turn the gaze up as far as is comfortable. Your unique range of motion will expand at its own pace.
Pose #2: Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
Cat Pose

From Cow Pose, exhale all of the air out of the lungs, emptying them completely as you tuck the chin to the chest and tuck the tailbone between the legs. Pull the belly button into the spine as you round the upper back and shoulder blades toward the ceiling.

“But I Can’t” Modifications: 
  • If you have sensitive knee caps Pad the knee caps with a blanket
  • If you have sensitive wrists: Walk the hands forward

Pose #3: Seated Spinal Twist

Seated Spinal Twist

Lengthening then twisting the spine increases flexibility along the entire spinal column and is extremely good for the back and hips. From a seated position, inhale to a long spine, growing a little taller with the crown of the head. As you exhale, twist your torso to one side, placing your front hand on the opposite knee, and your backhand as a kickstand behind you. Distribute weight evenly between the seat bones and bring your head and gaze deeply into your twist. Repeat in the opposite direction for symmetry.

“But I Can’t” Modifications: 
  • If you have a tight back or hips: Elevate the hips by placing the seat bones on a blanket or block so the hips are higher than the knees
  • If it’s too difficult to sit on the floor: Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Twist from belly button.
Pose #4: Staff Pose (Dandasana)
Staff Pose

Think of this asana as a sitting Tadasana. Every muscle in the body is active. Begin by sitting with legs out in front of your body. Draw the hands beside the hips. As you grow tall through the crown, engage the legs, feet, hands, and arms. Feel the sternum lift toward the ceiling as the belly draws you taller. Remain here for several breaths, feeling the edge of rest and activation in the body’s muscles.

“But I Can’t” Modifications: 

  • If your back rounds: Elevate the hips by placing the seat bones on a pillow. Slide to the edge of the pillow, so the hips begin to roll forward. This will increase flexibility and strength in the psoas muscle and soon allow you to sit straight up.

Pose #5: Balancing Table Pose

Balancing Table Pose

Gently increase the strength of your core. From all fours, lengthen one leg directly out behind you with your toes pointed down and your hips at even levels. Keep the belly button moving into the spine to engage the abdominal muscles as you extend the opposite arm in front of you, drawing your bicep level with your ear. Keep the gaze down, so you create a long line from the fingertips, through the spine and out the heel. Repeat on the opposite side.

“But I Can’t” Modifications: 

  • If you have sensitive knee caps: Pad the knee caps with a blanket
  • If you have sensitive wrists: Walk the standing hand forward

Pose #6: Modified Low Lunge (Ashwa Sanchalanasana)

Modified Low Lunge

Much of our flexibility and mobility in the low back comes from the hips. Use blocks on either side, stepping one foot forward and one foot back. Drop the back knee and come to the highest setting on the blocks to move beyond any tension in the back. Lengthen through the crown of the head first, then slowly slide the front hip even further forward. Move the front foot such that the ankle remains under the knee to protect the ACL. Use the exhale to soften in the hips with each breath, sliding a tiny bit further forward with the front hip. Repeat on opposite side for symmetry.

“But I Can’t” Modifications: 

  • If you have sensitive knee caps: Pad the knee caps with a blanket
Pose #7: Modified Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
Modified Lizard Pose

From your modified low lunge, step the front foot off to the side of the mat, allowing the foot to point slightly outward. Bring both blocks into the middle of the mat. Begin by gently shifting your weight left and right, creating some easy movement massage in the tight areas of the hips. If you’d like, begin to lower yourself down, placing your elbows on the blocks to rest as you sink in for several minutes. Repeat on opposite side for symmetry.

“But I Can’t” Modifications: 

  • If you have sensitive knee caps: Pad the knee caps with a blanket
 Pose #8: Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Mountain Pose

We forget how to stand. Some of the most chronic damage we do to the body comes from standing and moving through our world out of alignment from “standing lazily.” Tadasana may look like simply “standing there,” but when approached consciously, we are activating every muscle in the body to support our stance with strength and alignment. Begin by placing the feet directly below the hips, parallel to one another. Lift all ten toes and spread them apart as wide as you can. This activates the small muscles in the feet, and lifts and strengthens the arches. Keeping the arches lifted, lower the toes. Gently lift the knee caps by activating the quadriceps. Drop the tailbone directly down, creating a neutral rather than bowed pelvis. Now, picture a string tied to the base of the tailbone and lengthening through the center of the spine, out of the crown of the head. Gently lift this string, growing a little taller through both the crown and the sternum. Roll the shoulders back and down, away from the ears.

“But I Can’t” Modifications: 

  • If you have limited mobility or an injury that prevents standing: Sit in a chair with feet flat on the floor, building up through the body in the same fashion.
  • My balance is off!: Bring the heels to a wall and lean back against the wall with the entire body, building your strength from the bottom, up.
Pose #9: Warrior Two (Virabhadrasana II)
Warrior Pose

Ignite your inner warrior. This asana asks us to be both strong and soft at the same time. Begin by taking a wide stance, and turn the right foot out, parallel to the long side of the mat and the left foot in slightly. Open the left hip so that the hips are also parallel to the long side of the mat. Sink over the right knee, adjusting the foot so the ankle is directly beneath the knee. Float the arms up, parallel with the shoulders, and turn the palms up for a softer, more receptive asana. Feel your shoulders align over your hips and drop the tailbone done.

“But I Can’t” Modifications: 

  • If your arms are weak: Keep the biceps parallel to the mat and raise the hands toward the ceiling so you are making an “L” shape with both arms
  • If your hips or groin are tight: Shorten your stance; it need not be a very wide stance

 Pose #10: Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Child’s Pose


Child’s Pose is an intuitively comforting asana that relieves thighs, back, shoulder, neck, and hip strain . It brings a sense of calm to the body and mind. Begin by sitting on the heels. Lengthen through the crown of the head, then begin to bring the belly, then chest, then head to the floor. Lengthen your arms out in front of you, spreading all ten fingers wide. As you breathe into the back, allow the belly to sink between the legs.

“But I Can’t” Modifications: 

  • If you have sensitive knee caps: Pad the knee caps with a blanket
  • If you have tight or torqued knees: Place a blanket or bolster between the seat bones and heels
  • If you have tight hips, back, or thighs: Lay the torso onto a bolster or pillow to elevate the chest and soften the depth of the posture until your body is ready for more (see image below for example)
Child’s Pose with Bolster


Rebecca Louzan Monroe teaches yoga at Lyons Yoga & Wellness in Lyons, CO. 

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