Yoga can be incredibly beneficial to our health.
It has become extremely popular.
Yoga has become the new exercise du jour in recent years.
And according to YogaJournal.com, more than 20.4 million Americans practice Yoga (estimated study year: 2012), compared to 15.8 million from their 2008 study (1).
It's an increase of 29 percent in just 4 short years.
And it's certainly getting everyone from A-list celebs to your neighbors getting Zen moments, humming OM on a bi-daily basis. Apparently, that's for a good reason.
Yoga is far more than just physical exercise.
Its practice is known to bring internal transformation and unity between your mind and body.
It also centers and brings balance to all aspects of life.
The only problem?
If you’re never done yoga before, joining a yoga class can be intimidating—especially when everyone else in the class seems super flexible and is able to perform every yoga pose without breaking a sweat.
To make matters worse, yoga teacher’s dialogue and guidance sound nothing like the language you understand. It’s difficult to follow along, to say the least.
We hear you—who can understand names like Sanskrit, utkatasana, and Trikonasana.
Not at first, at least.
To help yoga beginners like you and me, I decided to create a yoga poster chart with cute graphics with English names—And it makes me laugh every time, which makes it a lot easier for me to remember each yoga pose and their name.
It's not necessarily a definitive guide to yoga and yoga poses.
But it will help you get more acquainted with the yoga poses, so when you hear them in class—you know what they are.
Consider it your cheat sheet to finally mastering the common poses you're likely to encounter in most open-level classes.
These 24 yoga poses are also available for purchase as a yoga chart or poster on our store if you would like to have them on your wall to reference while practicing at home.
Grab your yoga mat now and let’s get started.
24 Yoga Poses for Beginners—Chart
Below is the description of each of the 24 yoga poses with both their Sanskrit and English names. Get familiar with each of them, so you'll know how to perform them both at home and in class.
Pick 3 to 4 poses and practice them at home.
I know some of the poses can be challenging at first. Make sure to practice those poses.
* English Translation and Sanskrit Names
1. Four Limbed Staff Pose: Chaturanga Dandasana
This amazing full-body strength, arms and core pose will challenge you both physically and mentally. It strengthens the arms, wrists and tones and strengthens the abdominal area.
How to do it:
- Begin by laying facedown on your Yoga mat with your arms alongside your body.
- Bend your elbows and slide your hands up to your chest level with your plans flat, facing down.
- Tuck your toes under, and on an exhalation, lift your torso in and up and press your plans and toes down, as you lift whole body a few inches above the mat.
- Forming a straight long line from your head to heels and continue to lift your knee high, engaging the front of your thighs.
- Try to hold this position for 20-30 seconds, and then relax back down onto the mat and repeat for several times.
2. Cobra Pose - Bhujangasana
The name comes from the Sanskrit words, bhujanga. It means “snake” or “serpent” and in asana, it means “posture” or “seat”.
Is a common Yoga back bend pose. When you perform the cobra pose, you stretch the front of the torso and the spine.
You take a deep inhalation breath and notice how your torso and spine naturally extend or elongate. During this opening phase of the breathing cycle, bring attention to how you feel peace and inviting energy through your spine as you bend backwards.
The cobra posture (pose) increases the flexibility and strength of the muscles of your arms, shoulders, back and core. Very much like a pushups or a plank does. The Cobra emphasizes strengthening the upper-back, opens the chest, increases lung capacity, and stimulates energy flows to the kidneys and the adrenals.
How to do it:
- Lie facedown on your stomach with your legs straight back, spread at hip width apart and the tops of your feet facing the yoga mat on the floor.
- Resting your forehead on the mat and relax your neck and shoulders; bend your elbows and place your forearms on the Yoga mat with your palms face-down and positioned near your head. Please click here to see the video from Yoga.com
- Breathing diaphragmatically, as you inhale, pull down your shoulders and engage your back muscles, press your forearms against the mat, and raise your upper-body off the mat. Looking straight ahead, keep your forearms and the front of your body pelvis on the floor, try to relax your shoulders and keep down away from your ears.
- Exhale and slowly lower your head and upper-body and torso back down to the Yoga mat. Repeat this pose 3-4 times. Each time stay in the last raised position for 5-6 breaths.
Note: Overtime you will also notice your lower back gaining strength and increasing flexibility. This is one of the exercises that uses in the McKenzie back rehabilitation program to help reposition any displaced spinal discs and strengthen the muscles around the spine.
When you hear Yoga can help with lower back pain, this is one of the many poses that can help relieve your back pain.
3. Downward Facing Dog - Adho Mukha Svanasana
The downward-facing dog pose replicates a dog bending forward. This Yoga postures deeply stretches the hamstrings, back, shoulders, calves and spine while building strength in your upper-body, core and legs. This deep stretch helps to elongate and release tension from the spine.
This Yoga pose energizes and rejuvenates the whole body. It increases blood and energy flowing to the brain, which makes you more alert.
This is a great energy building and tension release Yoga pose after a hard day.
How to do it:
- Get down on a Yoga mat on your hands and knees; straighten your arms, but do not lock your elbows. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Your middle fingers should be pointing directly to the top edge of the mat.
- As you exhale, lift and straighten (but don’t lock) your knees. Stretch your elbows and relax your upper back.
- Spread your fingers wide and press them firmly through your palms and knuckles to distribute your weight evenly across your hands.
- Press your heels toward the floor to feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings and your head toward your feet. Your body should form the shape of an “A."
- Repeat steps 1 through 4 three times and then stay in Step 3 for 5 to 6 breaths.
4. Cat Pose - Marjaraiasna
The cat pose stretches the lower spine, hips and back. It also opens up the chest and lungs for allowing easier breathing. Practicing the cat pose may also improve and promote a healthy spine.
The cat pose is a tilt movement that elongates your spine and eases tension in your back.
How to do it:
- Begin the cat pose on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Take a deep breath to inhale.
- Use your exhale to pull your belly button to your spine and press the floor away with your hands and knees, rounding your spine like an angry cat, stretching your lower back and spine.
- Take least 3-5 deep breaths before releasing. Repeat 3-4 times.
5. Cow Pose - Bitilasana
This Yoga pose can help relieve back pain by posing in the Cat and Cow asanas. These two Yoga poses stretches the back, increases flexibility in the back muscles, and relaxes the mind and body.
How to do it:
- Begin on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- On an inhale, roll your shoulders away from your ears, look up, and arch your spine.
- Breathe here for at least three deep breaths. Repeat 3-4 times?
6. Locust Pose - Padmasana
This Yoga pose opens and stretches the chest and the abdomen.
The primary benefits of the Yoga locust pose is to increase flexibility in the front part of your upper body and build strength in the back.
How to do it:
- To begin, lie face-down on your Yoga mat and keep your big toes turned inward and your thighs rotated. Contract your buttocks so that your cycle is pressed to the pubis.
- Keep your arms at the side, next to your torso, forehead resting on the ground, and palms facing up. Clasp your hands behind your sacrum.
- Use a big inhale to lift your chest and feet off of the ground. Take a few Breaths here for at least 3-5 breaths. Repeat the steps 2-3 more times.
7. Boat Pose - Navasana
You might as well called this Yoga pose the belly blaster, because it works the muscles of your stomach. This pose is like rowing without being in a boat and paddling.
Having only your buttocks on the ground, you make core and abdominal muscles work hard to build strength, endurance and stamina. Think yoga only calms the mind? Obviously you haven’t tried the boat pose.
How to do it:
- Sit on your Yoga mat with your knees bent in front of you and your feet flat on the ground.
- With your palms facing up, reach your arms forward so that your hands brush the sides of your knees.
- Lean backwards until your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor.
- Slowly lift your feet off of the mat as you straighten your legs, forming a “V.” shape
- Pull your shoulders down and back and open your chest and engage your abdominal muscles to hold the position. Remain here for at least 3-5 deep breaths. Repeat 6-8 times
Tips: Don’t hold your breath during this exercise. Focus on your breathing, and try to relax!
8. Chair Pose - Utkatasana
The Yoga chair pose is a simple, yet powerful half standing, half sitting imaginary position that builds strength and endurance in your legs, buttocks and core. Although this might seem simple, after holding this challenging pose for a few seconds, you can begin to feel and experience the power of this pose.
This pose is traditionally taught to stimulate your abdominal organs and your heart.
Benefits: Strengthen the hip flexor muscles, the front of your thighs, your adductor muscles of the inner thighs and the gluteus muscles (buttocks) of the hips. Stretch and strengthen the calf muscles and improve the range of motion in the ankles.
How to do it:
- Begin standing in the mountain pose.
- Bend your knees, sink your hips back like you are sitting down in a chair, and reach your arms high, framing your face.
- Look in front of your knees and make sure you can see your toes. If you can’t, sit your hips back until you can.
- Drop your shoulders down away from your ears and look up slightly. Breathe here for at least 3-5 deep breaths.
9. Corpse Pose - Savasana
Corpse pose (Savasana) is usually the last pose you do in a Yoga class. Is also called the final and relaxed pose.
This Yoga pose is one of the simplest and most difficult of all Yoga asana postures. This posture is the simplest because it doesn’t use any part of your body at all. But it’s the most difficult precisely because you’re asked to do nothing with your body.
The Yoga corpse posture is an exercise of the mind over matter. The corpse relaxes and rejuvenates the mind and body. Helps reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure. Many experts claim that it reduces fatigue by freeing your mind, insomnia, headaches, anxiety, and depression.
How to do it:
- Lie down flat on your back faceup, separating legs and letting feet splay apart on a Yoga mat. Place arms along sides, palms facing up.
- Place a small pillow or folded blanket under your head, if you need one, and another one under your knees for added comfort to help you relax.
- Close your eyes and relax.
- Take a couple of big deep breaths, and lengthening of your spine as you exhale.
Tips: Let go of every last bit of effort left in your body and in your mind. Breathe here for at least 15-20 deep breaths, or more if you like.
10. Seated Forward Bend - Paschimottanasana
The seated forward bend pose improves hamstrings and back flexibility.
How to do it:
- Begin in the seated position with your legs strengthen and out in front of you, flexing your thighs.
- Take a big inhale to lengthen, and use your exhale to engage your navel to your spine and lean your torso forward, reaching your hands forward as far as it feels comfortable on your legs, your hands outside of your feet, close to your heels.
- Allow your head to relax down toward your legs. Breathe here for at least 2-3 deep breaths.?
11. Standing Forward bend - Uttanasana
The standing forward bend stretches the back muscles, shoulders, hamstrings and calves, and decompress the spine (makes space between the spinal vertebrae). Because of lifestyle — work and daily activities, we tend to accumulate a lot of tension in the neck and shoulders, which can lead to headaches.
This pose frees the tension from your neck and relaxes the muscles. It also improves overall circulation to the head.
How to do it:
- Begin standing in mountain pose with your feet together.
- Take a deep inhale to reach your arms up over your head, framing your face.
- As you exhale to engage your abs by bringing your navel to your spine and swan dive over your legs with a flat back.
- Place your hands on the floor slightly in front of or beside your feet. Press all four corners of both feet into the ground and lift your hips up and back toward the ceiling. Relax your head and neck. Breathe here for at least 2-3 deep breaths.
Note: If you’re having lower back pain, or disc problem, please avoid this Yoga pose or check with your physician first.
12. Standing Forward Fold - Uttanasana
The standing forward fold pose lengthens the spinal column and stretches the back of the legs and the back muscles. This posture stimulates digestion, blood flow, energy, nervous system and endocrine.
How to do it:
- Begin from Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), press your palms or fingertips into the floor (or blocks on the floor) beside your feet. With an inhale, straighten your elbows and arch your torso away from your thighs, finding as much length between your pubic bone and navel as possible.
- With your palms (or fingertips) pushed down and back against the floor, lift the top of your sternum up (away from the floor) and forward.
- You may bend your knees slightly to naturally arm your back.
- Look forward, but be careful not to fully compress the back of your neck. Hold the arched-back position for a few breaths. Then, with an exhale, release your torso into full Uttanasana.?
13. Upward Bow - Urdhva Dhanurasana
Upward facing bow pose is an advanced Yoga pose that stretches and opens the entire body. It is sometimes considered the “peak” backbend, and it is often practiced toward the end in a Yoga class when the body is fully warmed up and open. The Sanskrit name of for this pose, “Urdhva Dhanurasana”, comes from three words:
- "Urdhava” meaning the “upward”.
- "Dhanu” — meaning the "bow".
- "Asana" — meaning the "pose".
The Upward Bow Pose can be a challenging pose to attain with proper form and correct alignment. And you don't want to push your body beyond its capability. It is best to wait until you have the level of flexibility and strength to do the Upward Bow Pose.
Please be aware that you can possibly injure your back, spine and neck if your body is not ready for it.
As you can tell with the backbend pose in the image, it requires a great of spinal mobility and flexibility both in the spine and the back muscles.
If you lack the flexibility required, try these poses, Upward-Facing Dog, Camel Pose, Bridge Pose or Upward Facing, Plank Pose.
These will help you build strength, mobility and flexibility you need to perform the Upward Bend Bow.
How to it:
- Start by lying flat on your back with your arms at your sides. Bend your knees, keeping your feet parallel and aligned with your hips. Draw your heels close to the edges of your buttocks.
- Bring your arms up overhead, and then bend your elbows so that you can place your palms flat on the floor at either side of your head. Your fingertips should rest beneath your shoulders.
- Keep your forearms parallel as you extend your fingers toward your heels. Reach your elbows directly up toward the ceiling.
- Inhale as you press your feet firmly into the floor and lift your hips upward toward the ceiling. Contract your butt, thigh, and abdominal muscles to support your lower back and body.
- Keep your feet and legs parallel. Press through the palms of your hands and lift your shoulders, upper-back and off the Yoga mat.
- Realign your arms to make sure they remain parallel — do not let your elbows splay to the sides. Hold for a few breaths.
- On an exhalation, straighten your arms and lift your head completely off the floor. Press the weight of your hands equally through your index fingers. Draw your chest toward the wall closest to your head.
- Do not rest your bodyweight on your head. Do not crunch your neck. As you gain strength and flexibility, you will be able to lift your head off the mat!
- Lift your chest even more toward the wall behind you. Straighten your arms and legs even more. Turn your thighs slightly inward. Broaden your shoulder blades across your back. Let your head hang. Gaze at the floor between your hands.
- Hold for up to 15 breaths. Release the pose by first bringing the crown of your head to the mat, and then your whole body. Rest on your back with your knees bent and dropped together.
Note: Mastering the Upward Bow Pose can be very rewarding because it is a challenging one. Although, it will deeply stretch and strengthen your entire body, just be careful not to over do it, and force your body into the pose. Practice the modified version we mentioned above.
There you have it!
24 beginners yoga poses to get started with. I hope these cute yoga poses help you get familiar with the names and the poses.
Which yoga pose is your favorite? Let me know in a comment below.