5 Basic Yoga Poses to Master

Whether you’re looking to tone up or wind down, Midtown Yoga offers a variety of classes to match your mood on any given day. Although each of our classes vary by design, there is a common thread of foundational yoga poses you can expect each time you step on your mat.  

Before tackling the advanced inversions and impressive balances often associated with yoga, roll out your mat and get comfortable with these five foundational poses that serve as an important base for beginners and seasoned yogis alike.


1. Downward-Facing Dog

Start on your hands and knees in tabletop position with your hands beneath your shoulders and toes turned slightly under. Lift your hips and knees away from the floor and push your hips towards the ceiling. Press the “L” shape of your hands down into the mat. Relax your head and neck. Melt your chest toward the floor. Press your thighs to the back wall. Lift your hips up toward the sky.

One of the most well-known yoga poses, downward-facing dog is a full-body stretch that warms up your muscles and mind for the class ahead. Holding this yoga pose for 1-3 minutes also builds upper-body strength and boosts circulation through the body.


2. Cat-Cow

Start on your hands and knees in tabletop position with your hands beneath your shoulders and knees below your hips. Inhale and sink your belly down as your arch your back and look up. As you exhale, tuck your chin to your chest, round your spine towards the ceiling, and look to the floor.

More of a movement than a pose, cat-cow is performed at the beginning of class to get you familiar with aligning movement with breath. Cat-cow incorporates a soothing spine stretch that works out any kinks before your practice.


3. Warrior II

Stand with one foot at the top of your mat, toes facing forward. Stretch your other leg behind you with the outside of the foot parallel with the back edge of your mat. Bend your front knee, stack your knee on top of your ankle, sink into a lunge, raise your arms parallel to the mat and gaze just past your front hand.

Channel your inner warrior! This powerful pose forces other distractions out of your mind as you focus on maintaining the stance. Warrior II strengthens not only your legs and ankles but also your concentration. This foundational pose also boosts circulation as you hold your arms outstretched.


4. Child’s Pose

Start by kneeling on the mat. Lower your forehead to rest on the mat as you extend your arms in front of you, palms facing down on the mat. If your hips are feeling tight, you can spread your knees wide and let your belly rest in between your thighs.

At any moment you may need a break during class, come into Child’s Pose to reset and recharge. After a few moments of rest in this pose, you’ll be ready for your next sequence.


5. Savasana

Lie on your back with legs straight, arms stretched out to your sides and palms facing up. Relax your muscles, deepen your breath, and remain still on the mat.

Savasana is often considered the most important pose of yoga. Hundreds of years ago the physical yoga poses were created to exhaust the body for stillness.  It may look simple, but the difficulty comes in practicing acceptance, awareness, and stillness. Think of Savasana as the ultimate cool-down that gives your body and mind a chance to soak up all of the benefits of your physical practice you just finished.

Master these five foundational poses and come back to them often. As you work to grow your practice, you’ll start to feel differently in each of these poses. Like with any strong structure, a solid foundation is key.

Amanda BittnerComment