Yoga For Beginners

If you feel intimidated by yoga, you’re not alone. You may believe that you have to be super flexible, in great shape, and have the perfect body in order to practice yoga. Nothing is further from the truth. Yoga is for every body, every shape, and all physical and mental conditions.

What Is Yoga?

Yoga is a 5,000-year-old practice that started in India to foster physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Millions of people around the world use this physical practice to help strengthen and stretch the body, reduce stress, and balance their state of well-being through increased awareness of breath and meditation. Anybody can be a yogi, or yoga practitioner, and benefit from this ancient practice that is still very much alive today.

There are many varieties of yoga styles. Some styles focus on improving flexibility and reducing stress and others focus on gaining strength and exercise intensity. The following list of four yoga styles will help you decide what is best for you.

  • Vinyasa yoga. Also referred to as “flow” or “moving meditation,” this style is for you if you like to get your heart rate up and keep moving. Expect to get a little sweaty flowing from one yoga pose to the next and back again. This is typically a high-energy yoga style practiced with upbeat music.

  • Iyengar yoga. This style is a good fit if your focus is on improving strength and form. You will move at a slow pace and hold poses for 1 to 3 minutes. This style sometimes uses props such as foam blocks and straps to deepen poses and improve flexibility and strength.

  • Yin, or restorative yoga. Yin yoga offers meditative and stress-reducing qualities. This style uses extended time in each pose to stretch the muscles and connective tissue. The intent is to improve flexibility while deepening your practice of mindfulness. You may keep a pose for 5 to 20 minutes with the use of yoga blocks, straps, and pillows.

  • Hatha yoga. This slower-paced style focuses on breathing, simpler poses, and meditation. This is a great style choice for any fitness level. The goal of Hatha yoga is to align and calm your body, mind, and spirit in preparation for meditation.

Where to Begin

There are many places to begin your yoga practice. You can find beginner yoga classes in gyms, fitness centers, yoga studios, and community centers. You can find beginner yoga classes online and in reference books if you prefer to exercise alone, or if you live far from in-person classes. You can also start with the yoga poses below to begin your practice at home.

Sitting Pose

  • Strengthens your back, stretches your hips, knees and ankles.

  • Hold for 1 to 2 minutes.

  • Bring your awareness to your breath and calm your mind.

Extended Child's Pose

  • Stretches your hips, thighs, lower back and ankles.

  • Hold for 1 to 2 minutes.

  • Focus on your breath to promote feelings of calm.

Downward Facing Dog

  • Stretches your shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands. Strengthens your arms and legs.

  • Hold for 30 to 90 seconds.

  • Calms your brain and helps relieve stress. Helps prevent osteoporosis.

Standing Half Forward Bend

  • Stretches the front of your torso, strengthens your back, and improves posture.

  • Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

  • Brace your core to help engage the proper muscles.

Plank Pose

  • Get in a push-up position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your feet hip-width distance apart.

  • Keep your hips up and draw your bellybutton closer to your spine.

  • Hold for three to five slow breaths.

  • You can lower your knees to the floor to make it easier, if needed.

Repeat two or three times.

Lunge Pose

  • Get into a lunge position by bending each knee to 90 degrees (you don’t have to go as low as the picture) with one leg forward and one stretched behind you.

  • Your arms can either be raised overhead or kept in front of your chest for balance.

  • Hold for three to five slow breaths.

Repeat two or three times.

Cat and Cow

  • Begin on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.

  • For ‘cat,’ raise your spine and tuck your chin.

  • For ‘cow’, let your spine curve and your belly sink toward the floor while looking up slightly.

  • Hold for three to five slow breaths.

Repeat two or three times.

Chair Pose

  • With your feet together, bend your knees and drop your hips as if you are sitting in a chair.

  • Pull your belly in and reach your arms overhead, hugging your ears. Keep your neck relaxed.

  • To make this easier, bring your palms together at the center of your chest.

  • Hold for three to five slow breaths.

Repeat two or three times.

Key Takeaways

  1. Yoga is a 5,000-year-old practice that improves well-being through strengthening, stretching, breathing, and meditation.

  2. You can find in-person yoga classes in gyms, fitness centers, and studios. You can also practice at home using yoga videos or books.

  3. Start your yoga practice today with the beginner yoga poses in this resource.


  1. About yoga. (n.d.). Retrieved from

  2. Yoga poses archives. (n.d.). Retrieved from