How To: Common Beginner Yoga Poses Unraveled


Kiana Ng

Whether you’re new to yoga and wanting to get a heads up before walking into a class, or you’re more experienced but need a refresher, these poses will shine some light on the common beginner yoga poses you’re likely to see in a yoga class.

There are hundreds of beginner poses that I could break down, but I’m going to give you the scoop on just a handful of what you’ll most likely see in any yoga class.

Downward Dog

Alignment Principles:

  • Feet & hands are the same distance apart as plank position
  • Feet are inner hip distance apart (about 2 fist widths)
  • Hands are shoulder distance apart with the index or middle finger pointing straight forwards, fingers spread wide, finger tips gripping with equal distribution of weight across hand
  • Biceps spiralling in/forwards
  • Shoulder blades broad & wrapping towards side body
  • Shoulders slightly elevated towards ears
  • Ribs drawn in
  • Spine long with tailbone lengthening towards sky
  • Thighs are engaged, backs of the legs lengthening


Alignment Principles:

  • From plank, shift weight forwards into toes so that the shoulders move slightly past the wrists
  • Exhale to bend elbows back, like a tricep push up
  • Lower shoulders down to elbow height
  • Equal distribution of weight across hand
  • Shoulder heads lifting and rolling down back
  • Forearms are vertical
  • Belly & ribs drawn in
  • Tailbone tucked towards heels
  • Thighs engaged to lift knees
  • Back of the neck long
  • *Can modify by dropping to knees


Alignment Principles:

  • From stomach, place hands beside ribs with wrists stacked under elbows (or slightly further forwards depending on spinal flexibility)
  • Roll shoulders down back
  • Hug elbows in
  • Press tops of feet into mat with all 10 toes grounded
  • Knee caps lifting off mat with engaged thighs
  • Inhale to lift heart up
  • Glutes engaged
  • Belly in
  • *The difference between this and Up Dog is that Up Dog will have the hips & thighs off of the mat as well, where as Cobra has the hips & thighs on the mat.

Warrior 2

Alignment Principles:

  • Front heel is in line with back arch
  • Front knee bent to 90 degrees over the ankle pointing straight forwards
  • Back leg is straight with the quad engaged
  • Outer edge of back foot is pressing down into mat
  • Tailbone is lengthening towards mat
  • Core & ribs drawn in
  • Shoulders stacked over hips
  • Arms are parallel to mat with the shoulders relaxed down the back
  • Gaze slightly past front middle finger


Alignment Principles:

  • Front heel is in line with back arch
  • Front leg is straight with micro bend in front knee to avoid locking out
  • Front quad is engaged and spiralling outwards
  • Right hip is drawing towards the back of the mat
  • Back leg is long with quad engaged and outer foot rooted
  • Bottom hand is right underneath the bottom shoulder with the top arm extending straight up
  • Both side bodies are equally long
  • Core & ribs drawn in
  • Neck in line with spine
  • Gaze up or down
  • *Modify by placing bottom hands on block or shin

Pick 1 tip to bring with you to practice next time & implement it! See you on the mat!

With love,

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