Yoga can reduce stress, increase flexibility, and help people maintain a healthy weight. There are many simple yoga poses that beginners can benefit from.
Basic poses like Child’s pose and Cat-Cow are good options for those who are new to yoga. Over time, regular yoga practice will increase a person’s strength, balance, and flexibility. An individual can then try intermediate poses, which will provide an additional challenge.
Advanced yoga poses, like Headstand, should not be rushed into. Trying difficult poses early on could increase the risk of injury. A person should start with poses they are comfortable with. As they progress, they will gain the strength and flexibility required to try these poses safely.
Read on to learn more about the basic, intermediate, and advanced yoga poses.
If someone is new to yoga, they should familiarize themselves with some basic poses. Developing a solid foundation is essential to safely progress in a person’s yoga practice.
Some beginner yoga poses a person can try include:
Child’s pose is a comfortable position that releases tension in the back, shoulders, and neck.
Modification: If the forehead does not touch the floor, reposition the arms in front of the body. Rest the head on the arms, or use a pillow for extra support.
Corpse pose is a relaxing position that soothes the body and mind. It is a good way to end a yoga session.
Modification: Place a pillow, blanket, or yoga block under the knees to alleviate lower back pain. Use an eye mask or eye pillow to block out sunlight and relax.
Yoga teachers often combine Cat pose and Cow pose into one flowing movement. The movement helps increase spinal flexibility and release tension in the back and shoulders.
Modification: If the knees feel sore, use a blanket or thicker yoga mat for extra cushioning. If wrists begin to ache, make a fist. This will alleviate some of the pressure.
These poses are suitable for people who are slightly further into their yoga practice, and build on the foundation established with beginner poses. The intermediate poses further improve a person’s balance, flexibility, and core strength.
Some of these poses include:
Tree pose challenges a person’s balance. It strengthens the leg muscles while also engaging the core.
Modification: If a person cannot hold the pose or finds it difficult to bring the foot to the inner thigh, they can place the foot on the side of their shin instead. Do not rest the foot on the knee.
Rested Half Pigeon pose is a deep stretch that releases tension in the hips.
Modification: If a person struggles with this pose, they can try bending their back leg.
Boat pose strengthens the core and hip flexors while challenging a person’s balance.
Modification: If a person struggles to hold this pose, they can keep their feet on the floor.
When people have built a solid foundation of experience, strength, balance, and flexibility, they may be ready to try advanced yoga poses.
Some of these poses include:
Firefly pose strengthens the core, arms, and wrists. It also builds core strength and improves balance.
Supported Headstand pose strengthens the shoulders and core while lowering blood pressure. People with neck or back injuries, high blood pressure, and those who are pregnant should avoid this pose.
Modification: For additional stability, try this pose against a wall when starting out.
Research suggests that people who regularly practice yoga may experience health benefits. However, more research is needed to understand these benefits fully.
It is also important to note that while much of the research shows a correlation between yoga and health benefits, it does not show that yoga causes health benefits.
People who practice yoga may see improvements in the following:
One 2017 study found that yoga was similar to physical therapy in the treatment of chronic lower back pain. This randomized control trial studied 320 racially diverse adults from primarily low-income backgrounds.
These findings suggest that people with chronic lower back pain could benefit from structured yoga classes, alongside physical therapy and education, as part of an effective treatment plan.
Read more about poses that help with back pain.
Introducing yoga as part of a weight-management program may help a person maintain a moderate weight. According to one 2021 study, Vinyasa and Hatha yoga were equally effective in helping people with obesity to manage their weight.
However, it is important to note that the participants of this study also followed a calorie- and fat-restricted diet. It is likely this also contributed to their weight loss.
Proponents of yoga promote its many mental health benefits, and some research supports their claims.
Recently, researchers wanted to know if mental health clinicians could use yoga as a complementary treatment for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). A 2021 study looked at the benefits of Kundalini yoga, a type of yoga involving chanting and breathing exercises. While yoga reduced symptoms of GAD, it was not as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
As a result, yoga cannot replace CBT as a first-line treatment for GAD. However, it may be suitable as a complementary treatment in some cases.
Learn more about how yoga benefits the body and mind.
Basic yoga poses are an excellent introduction to yoga. They help people build up the strength and flexibility needed for more complex and physically demanding positions.
If someone has underlying health conditions or is recovering from any wrist or back injuries, they should speak with their doctor or healthcare professional before starting yoga.
If a person practices yoga frequently, they may experience mental and physical health benefits.
Last medically reviewed on July 15, 2021
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