Yoga: A Guide for Beginners

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Start your yoga practice safely and confidently with these poses you can do standing or in a chair.

yoga for beginners

Can one workout improve your breathing, posture, flexibility, balance, and mood?

Absolutely.

Even better, what if you can do it without any experience or equipment, and you won’t have to get down on the floor?

Convinced?

Get to know these five yoga poses that are perfect for beginners and older adults. All you need is yourself, some clear space, and a chair if you’d like.

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How to Use These Beginner Yoga Poses

You can perform these poses standing or seated, and you can do them with or without shoes on. Choose what feels safest and most comfortable for you.

You pick one or two poses to try at a time, or you can do them together as a yoga sequence. Get your blood flowing by walking in place for five minutes, and then perform the poses, focusing on good form and proper yoga breathing. Repeat the sequence up to three times.

As always, safety is key. The yoga poses here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis), an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Beginner Yoga Pose #1: Mountain Pose

Hold the pose for 5 breaths

How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down.

Check your posture. Your head should be up, and your chin should be parallel to the floor. Ears should be over your shoulders. Shoulders should be over your hips. Knees and toes should be pointing forward.

Stand tall, feeling your feet rooted to the floor. Breathe deeply for five breaths.

Make it easier: Do the pose sitting tall in a chair with good posture. Want more tips? Check out our guide to mountain pose for beginners.

Beginner Yoga Pose #2: Cactus Arms

Do 5 reps

How to do it: Stand in mountain pose with your arms at your sides.

Inhale, and reach your arms out and overhead. Exhale, and keeping your chest lifted, bring your arms out to your sides with palms facing forward and elbows bent 90 degrees like a cactus. That’s one rep. Do five reps.

Make it easier: Do the pose sitting tall in a chair with good posture. If it’s uncomfortable to lift your arms overhead, simply lift as high as comfortable.

Beginner Yoga Pose #3: Cactus Arms Open and Close

Do 5 reps

How to do it: Stand in mountain pose with your arms out to your sides, palms facing forward, and elbows bent 90 degrees like a cactus.

Inhale, and bring your arms together, tucking your chin to your chest and rounding your back. Exhale, and open your arms and chest. That’s one rep. Do five reps.

Make it easier: Do the pose sitting tall in a chair with good posture. If it’s not safe for you to round your back, simply open and close your arms while keeping your torso still.

Beginner Yoga Pose #4: Lateral Bend

Hold the pose for 5 breaths per side

How to do it:
Stand in mountain pose. Press down through your feet, and reach your arms overhead. If you’d like, gently grasp your right wrist with your left hand.

Inhale, and then exhale as you reach your arms and torso to the left, feeling a gentle stretch on the right side of your body. Return to center, switch the position of your hands, and repeat on the other side. Hold the pose for five breaths per side.

Make it easier: Widen your stance for a little more balance, or do the pose sitting tall in a chair with good posture. If it’s uncomfortable to lift your arms overhead, rest them on your hips or keep them down by your sides.

Beginner Yoga Pose #5: Hands to Heart

Do 5 reps

How to do it: Stand with your feet together. Roll your shoulders up, back, and down.

Reach your arms out and overhead, bringing your palms together. If you’d like, gaze up at your hands. With palms together, bring your hands in front of your chest. That’s one rep. Do five reps.

Make it easier: Do the pose sitting tall in a chair with good posture. If it’s uncomfortable to lift your arms overhead, lift them out to your shoulders, and bring your palms together in front of your chest.

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