12 Iyengar Yoga Poses for Beginners

1. Sukhasana – Easy Pose

This is a gentle seated pose which is steady and comfortable.

sukhasana yoga journal david martinez
Photo Credit: David Marinez, Yoga Journal
  • In this pose you are seated on support so that your knees are in line with or lower than your hips.
  • Your right shin is crossed in front of your left shin in the centerline of the shins and the torso is lifted.
  • The shoulders move back to open the chest and the hands rest on the upper thighs.
  • The head balances on the top of spine. Close your eyes and draw the breath in and out.
  • After a minute, stretch your legs out and then change the cross of the legs so that the left shin is crossed in front of the right.

2. Tadasana – Mountain Pose

Photo Credit: Nikolay Titov

  • Stand with the feet hip distance apart.
  • Press the inner and outer edges of the feet and balance the weight on your two feet.
  • Draw up on your front thighs and lift your kneecaps to stretch the legs.
  • Lift your chest and take your outer shoulders back to broaden the chest.
  • Maintain the lift in the chest as you stretch your fingertips towards the floor.

3. Urdhva Hastasana – Upward Hands Pose

Sara Agelasto in Urdhva Hastasana
Photo Credit: Peter Agelasto
  • Stand in Tadasana.
  • Maintaining the stretch in the arms, lift the arms to shoulder height.
  • Externally rotate the arms, so that the outer upper arms moves in towards your face.
  • Keep the external rotation as you lift the arms over head.
  • Continue to stretch the arms all the way from the armpits to the fingertips.
  • Feel how the stretch of the arms lengthens the entire side body.
  • Keep the weight even on the feet and the knee caps lifted, lower the arms back down to your sides.

4. Vrksasana – Tree Pose

Darlene Bink in Vrksasana
Photo Credit: Darlene Bink
  • Stand in Tadasana and balance the weight on the feet.
  • Shift the weight to your left foot as you bend the right knee and place the sole of the foot on the calve or the inner thigh of the left leg.
  • Maintain your balance as you draw the outer left hip in and keep the pelvis level.
  • Keep the left leg steady and extend from the inner right groin to the inner right knee and maintain the knee in line with the pelvis.
  • Lift the chest and lift the arms up into Urdvha Hastasana.
  • Balance on the standing leg and steady your gaze and breathe.
  • Lower the arms and lower the foot and repeat the pose while standing on the right leg.

5. Utthita Trikonasana – Extended Triangle Pose

lois steinberg utthita trikonasana
Photo Credit: Lois Steinberg
  • Stand in Tadasana. Inhale and Exhale as you stretch the arms out at shoulder height and Separate the feet 3 – 3.5 feet apart.
  • Turn the right foot out 90 degrees and the turn the left foot in slightly.
  • Press the inner and outer of edges of the feet as you did in Tadasana and extend the torso over towards the right leg.
  • Place your right hand on a block or right shin and stretch your left arm up towards the ceiling with the palm facing forward.
    The legs are stretched as in Tadasana. The arms are externally rotated as in Urdhva Hastasana and the torso is extended from the pelvis through the crown of the head.
  • To come out, press the feet firmly and lift the torso back up to vertical.
  • Turn the feet back to parallel as you take a breath and then on an exhale turn the left foot out and the right foot slightly in and repeat on the left side.

6. Utthita Parsvakonasana – Extended Side Angle Pose

Santiago Hernandez in Utthita Parsvakonasan
Photo Credit: Santiago Hernandez
  • Stand in Tadasana. Inhale and Exhale as you stretch the arms out at shoulder height and Separate the feet 3 – 3.5 feet apart. Turn the right foot out 90 degrees and the turn the left foot in slightly.
  • Press the inner and outer of edges of the feet as you did in Tadasana.
  • Keep the weight in the left leg as you bend your right knee until the shin is perpendicular with the floor.
  • Place your right hand on the floor (or a block) and take your left hand to your waist.
  • Extend from the inner right groin to the inner right knee so your knee remains in line with your ankle.
  • Press the knee into the right arm as you rotate your torso towards the ceiling.
  • Reach your left arm up towards the sky to broaden across the chest.
  • Maintain the broadness in the chest and reach the left arm over head by the left ear as you did in Urdhva Hastasana.
  • Take 2 deep breaths and Take your attention to your back foot as you inhale and bring your torso back to vertical and straighten your right knee.
  • Turn your feet back to parallel and take a breath or 2 and then turn the feet to the left and repeat the pose on the left.

7. Ardha Uttanasana – Half Intense Stretch Pose

Ardha Uttanasana
Photo Credit: iStock Photo
  • Stand in Tadasana with the feet hip distance apart.
  • Place the hands on the hips and lift your chest as you take the elbows back.
  • Keep the weight even on the feet as you take your torso to parallel to the floor.
  • Place your hands underneath your shoulders on two blocks or on the floor
  • Press your hands and move your shoulder blades into the back to keep your spine concave to the floor.
  • Lift up on the knees as you turn the upper thighs in and press the thighbones back towards the back thighs.
  • Stretch the side chest towards the armpits. Maintain that as you turn the upper arms in and stretch the center of the chest towards the crown of the head.
  • Keep the weight even in the feet and maintain the hips over the heels as you place your hands on your hips and stand back up in Tadasana.

8. Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog Pose

Leanne Cusumano Roque Adho Mukha Svanasana
Photo Credit: Leanne Cusumano Roque
  • Come down to the floor and kneel on all four limbs. The hands are underneath your shoulders and the knees are  underneath the hips. The toes point straight back.
  • Stretch the fingers and press the palms down onto the floor as you turn the upper arms in and lift the chest.
  • Maintain the lift in the chest and the stretch of the arms as you turn your toes under and lift the hips towards the ceiling.
  • Use your arms to press your chest back towards your legs as you press the thighs back and reach the inner and outer edges of the feet towards the floor.
  • Stretch your arms and stretch your legs as you reach the crown of the head towards the hands.
  • Take a few deep breaths and then lower yourself to your knees and pause.
  • Repeat the pose one or two more times and then rest.

9. Urdhva Hasta Dandasana – Upward Hands Staff Pose

  • Sit on the floor with the pelvis upright and the legs outstretched. Sit on height if you are not able to sit upright and have the legs stretched straight.
  • Stretch the feet as you did in Tadasana. As you lift the kneecaps, press your thighbones down towards the floor.
  • Maintain the stretch in the legs as you press the hands down, fingertips facing forwards, and move the shoulder blades into the back to lift the chest.
  • Reach out through the crown of your head as you relax your face and take 2 deep breaths.
  • If you are able to maintain the stretch in the legs and the lift in the chest, raise the arms overhead in Urdhva Hastasana.
  • Take 2 deep breaths and then lower the arms and rest.

10. Chatush Padasana – Four Footed Pose

old moon yoga chatush padasana
Photo Credit: Old Moon Yoga
  • Lie down on your back. Bend your knees and place the feet hip width apart with the heels as close to the buttocks as possible.
  • The feet are parallel and the feet press evenly as in Tadasana.
  • Keep the feet where they are and hold on to the edges of your sticky mat as you externally rotate your arms and take the shoulder blades into the back.
  • Take the outer shoulders down to the mat and lift the center of the chest. Maintain the lift in the chest as you press your feet and lift your pelvis off the ground.
  • Extend the tops of the buttocks towards the backs of the knees and the outer hips to the outer knees.
  • Press the outer shoulders and lift the chest towards the chin.
  • Either place your palms down on the floor or interlace the fingers behind the back.
  • Maintain the lift for 2 breaths and then lower your torso and pelvis onto the floor and rest.

11. Supta Padangustasana – Supine Hand to Big Toe Pose

letitia walker in supta padangustasana
Photo Credit: Letitia Walker, Live Yoga Now
  • Lie down on your back in the center of and parallel to the edges of your sticky mat and stretch the legs as you did in Dandasana.
  • Reach the arms down as you did in Chatush Padasana and hold the edges of the mat to draw the outer shoulders down and move the shoulder blades into the back to lift the chest.
  • Maintain this as you bend your right knee and grab the big toe with the first two fingers and thumb of the right hand. The right arm is stretched straight as you extend your right foot to perpendicular to the floor.
  • If you are not able to stretch the leg straight and hold your foot, place a strap around the ball of the foot. Hold the strap in both hands and stretch the right leg straight.
  • Continue to stretch the left leg straight on the floor.
  • Draw the outer right hip away from you as you extend the back of the right leg and bring the leg closer to your torso.
  • Take 2 deep breaths and lower the leg to the floor.
  • Stretch both of the legs on the floor and take 2 more deep breaths and then repeat the pose on the left side.

12. Savasana – Corpse Pose

Savasana
Photo Credit: Kate Samuels
  • Neatly, place a blanket lengthwise along the length of your sticky mat.
  • Lie Down on your back and stretch the legs in Supta Tadasana. See that you are in the center of sticky mat.
    Adjust the shoulders down your back as you did in Supta Padangustasana.
  • Allow your two feet to fall apart from one another, relaxing your leg muscles.
  • Turn your upper arms from the inside out and place the arms equidistantly about 6 inches away from your body. The palms are turned up towards the ceiling.
  • Relax every muscle in your body from the tip of your toes to the top of your head.
  • Consciously relax the body and in so doing, quiet the mind and move into a deep relaxation for 15 minutes a day, if possible.