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Leave Your Mat a Little More Zen With This Beginner-Friendly Sequence

Apr 5 2015 - 3:30am

Regardless of your level, cultivating a home yoga practice is an option for everyone. Both beginners and more advanced practitioners will love this straightforward yoga sequence that builds a strong foundation and focuses on the building blocks of a good practice. Spend a few minutes on your mat, and enjoy this sequence that will leave you feeling refreshed, focused, and a little more zen.

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Child's Pose

The most important pose to have under your belt before your first yoga class? The oh-so-relaxing Child's Pose, of course! Child's Pose is the perfect place to reconnect with your breath and give your body a moment to recoup. Whenever you're feeling overwhelmed during class or your breathing feels shallow or harried, drop your knees and hang out in Child's Pose for a few deep breaths. It will change everything.

Downward Facing Dog

You'll be asked to step back to this upside-down V shape all the time during class! It will feel very active and difficult in the beginning, but with time and practice, you'll come to experience it as a resting pose. Do your best to let your arms and legs equally share the weight of your body. It's your best bet to feel stabler and more comfortable in Downward Facing Dog.

Standing Forward Bend

Standing Forward Bend is another pose that looks like it's all relaxation, but you will feel a deep and intense stretch in your hamstrings and upper back. While the full expression of the pose calls for straight legs, if that feels like too much on your body, give a little bend to your knees to create more space.

Upward Facing Dog

Upward Facing Dog is another common pose in any Vinyasa-style yoga class, but it is not as easy as it appears! This chest-opening pose requires ample arm strength to lift your hips up and away from your mat. If the stretch feels too intense from the start of class, don't be afraid to start off in Cobra Pose [1], a gentler alternative that offers the same benefits to your upper body.

Warrior 1

Warrior 1 opens up tight hips while strengthening your whole lower body. Do your best to turn and square your hips toward the front of the room while straightening and engaging your back leg in Warrior 1. These tips will help your body get the most of the stretch, and you'll be able to stay comfortable in this pose for a longer period of time.

Warrior 2

Warrior 2 is another quad-strengthening and hip-opening pose you'll need to know for class. Once you take the initial shape, roll your shoulders back to loosen up your neck, and continue to extend your arms toward the front and back of the mat. If you start to feel the burn, remember that's good! Breathe deep, and stick with the pose.

Reverse Warrior Pose

Reverse Warrior Pose looks simple enough, but it can prove to be challenging to balance if your Warrior 2 isn't set up properly. Once you stretch back into your Reverse Warrior, keep your chest open. It should never feel like you're crunching your side into this pose; it's all about that big opening in your ribs while you strengthen your thighs.

Open Triangle

The pretzel-like Open Triangle pose might look a little confusing, but just follow these step-by-step instructions to build this pose from the ground up. Once you're in your full expression of Open Triangle, try to swing your upper body and chest back to be in line your hips. You'll feel an amazing stretch across the side of your body!

Fierce Pose

Fierce Pose is one people either love or loathe, but this pose works your whole body — especially your core and legs. Pretend you're sitting back in a chair while keeping your chest open toward the front of your mat. Engaging your glutes will keep your sink deeper and grow stronger.

Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose may look like a break, but it can prove to be the most transformative part of your practice. Reconnect to your deep belly breathing, and see where any tightness or tension is rising in your body or mind. Breathe into these spaces and find freedom.

Butterfly Pose

Butterfly Pose might remind you of childhood gymnastics classes, but it's an amazing stretch for adults — especially those who sit at a desk all day. This posture helps you focus on your breath, bring your attention inward, and stretch out a tight lower back. Instead of rounding your back and slouching over your feet, lean into this pose with your chest, and only round your back when you can't go any further.

Half Wheel

Before you jump into a full Wheel Pose or any sort of crazy backbend, you need to build a solid foundation, and Half Wheel is the perfect inversion for beginners. It stretches out a tight torso and has a surprisingly calming effect on your whole body.

Boat Pose

If you're looking to test your core strength [5], Boat Pose is a great indicator. Don't be afraid to keep your knees bent in this core-toning posture; you'll be able to extend your legs out with time. Also, don't bail if your body starts to shake, it just means your center is engaged and working!


Here's the moment you've been waiting for! Nearly every yoga class ends with Savasana (or Corpse Pose), which is basically an extended meditative nap. When you hear the teacher call out Savasana in class, you know that the active portion of the practice is behind you.

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