Yoga For Beginners: The 11 Yoga Poses You Need In Your Arsenal

Yoga has been out here saving lives, hips, knees, backs, and all the joints.


Flexibility has always been something that has come naturally to me. If you have any sort of dance or even any sports background, your body is used to being pushed to the limit. However, the older you get, if you don't use it, you lose it, as my grandmother used to say. Doing a split without excruciating pain is a thing that I truly miss from my youth. Since discovering that I no longer have the hips and joints of my younger years, I have been in search of ways to remedy this in 2021. The most common answer to my problem is yoga. Yoga has been out here saving lives, hips, knees, backs, and all the joints.

Like most things, finding out where to start with your yoga journey can be a little confusing. If yoga has been on your mind but you don't know where to start, let this article serve as a reference to get started. There is a lot of Instagram content that shows many beautiful images of people practicing yoga who are of all walks of life. Some of the poses can look a little intimidating but everybody has to start somewhere. And just like anything else, it takes time to perfect your practice. To get the best answers to how to start a yoga journey, I reached out to The Hippie Heathen, CEO and founder of Sisters of Yoga. Below is the insight and wisdom she had to share:

Determine Your Why Before You Start

How many times do we start things just for the sake of starting things without really thinking about why and if we should even start? Tie says starting your yoga practice has to begin with intention. “Before you even start yoga, it is good to take a moment to determine what is your reason for even starting yoga," she explains. “Like any other goal, you need to know why am I doing this. This can keep you going when it gets uncomfortable, uncertain, and, difficult.”

Whether it's to lose weight, gain strength, or become more flexible, understanding your why will push you through. To confirm your needs and intentions, Tie says to asks yourself, "Why yoga, why now, and what are three things you are hoping to gain out of your yoga practice."

Practice Alignment With A Beginner Yoga Class

Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

We are still in the midst of COVID and trying to deal with the resulting pandemic. Even though gyms and things are still open, we still need to practice social distancing and wear our masks. It is recommended that when starting a yoga practice to do so under the direction of a yoga teacher. Tie acknowledges that this helps with getting the poses and alignments correct. With a yoga teacher in your presence, you can get quick direct assistance to avoid mistakes. However, with COVID, things are a bit different. "I recommend starting with online instruction where there are specifically true beginners and start with alignment," Tie notes.

This will give you the correct foundation so you know what you need to watch out for in certain poses. Also, this will save you from future injury. Tie tells us that she started her journey from home seven years ago and was self-taught for two years. She suffered a few injuries by not going to a yoga studio in the beginning and this is the basis for why she believes starting with an instructor in a studio is best. A great alternative to adjust to social distancing is looking into doing a private 1-on-1 with a yoga instructor if you feel comfortable. During the pandemic, it is a great time to sign up for virtual private sessions, as they are more common right now. Whatever class you decide to take should be based on your comfort level.

What To Expect In For Your First Yoga Session

"Expect your teacher to help you flow through your poses. You can also expect some hands-on adjustments if that teacher wants to do that. If you don't want hands-on adjustments your instructor will give you a cue to let them know. Most of the time if you are new they will not touch you." This is important because as we already stated, yoga involves a lot of alignment and adjusting your body, so consider that before you take your first class.

When you go to your first class Tie says that you should go in with a positive attitude, "Go into a class with an open mind. If you go into a class feeling like this isn't for me, it's not going to be for you."

If you put negative energy in the space then that is what you are going to get out of it. "Expect to be challenged," Tie clearly states, "Expect to surprise yourself. Expect to find some calm that you didn't know you could find, you can expect to find so many different things."

Beginner Yoga Poses

Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Downward Facing Dog

This pose stretches out the full body and helps with building a foundation for all of the other poses in yoga. It is the foundational pose in yoga for building strength in your shoulders and your legs. Downward facing dog is an all-around full-body stretch.

Child's Pose

Child's pose is really good for grounding down. It is a really good pose for doing root chakra work, surrendering, stretching your hips, and just checking in with yourself. It is a pose that is dedicated to going into yourself. (Sidebar: Tie says this is a really good pose for women when they are on their cycles to relieve pain.)


The plank pose is another really good arm strengthing pose and a good pose to prep for other poses that are commonly practiced in yoga.

Warrior 2

This is a great pose for building a solid foundation in your legs and building confidence in your practice. It is also a great beginner pose for opening up your full body in a strengthing pose.

Cow-Cat Flow

The cow-cat flow are two poses that are made into one small flow. It is a great pose to open up the body and great to do in the morning. This pose actually helps to limber up your spine. It is recommended for lower back and back stretching. It can be used for synchronizing your breath because one movement is an inhale and the other is an exhale. This flow is a great one to start your practice with.

Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Wide-Legged Forward Fold

Forward pose is always a yes. It helps with low back pain and helps you open your hips. It can also be helpful for relieving headaches and tension in your neck and back.

Tree Pose

Tree pose is the first balance pose. You are learning to balance with this pose and it is a foundational pose.


Another great pose that is always a YES! It is literally the pose that you go to when you just don't have anything else to give. You literally lay into the floor. It is a beautiful pose of surrender and connecting to the earth and to the Source. It is a great pose for meditation and for you to practice at the end of your flow.

Warrior 1

You can find this pose in alto of flows because it is a foundational pose for building stability in the body. It is going to open up your hips and it is going to ground you down to the earth. It is a confidence-building pose because you feel like a warrior and you will feel in control of your body.

Low Lunge

If you are working on splits, low lunge is a great pose to begin work there. This pose will help you open up your hips and your hamstrings. If you are a runner or you lift a lot of weights, this is the pose you should add to your stretch routine. This pose should be done daily for optimal results.

Baby Cobra

Also known as cobra, this pose is perfect for beginners because it a backbend that will not make you uncomfortable. Furthermore, it is a backbend that will help you build the foundation for more advanced backbends. Use this pose to warm yourself up before you go into practicing backbends.

The Emotional Component To Making Yoga A Practice

"When you are practicing these poses, there are a lot of times where you are moving energy around. You are shifting energy in your body around and a lot of times things that you have trapped in your muscles that you haven't dealt with and can come up as many different things. It can come up as joy, it can come up as anxiety, fear, or sadness. Heart-openers, which are a set of poses that open up your heart space, we feel vulnerable or more open. It will cause you to have many experiences if you allow it and tap into it." Tie notes that off of the mat is where the real gold is. "On the mat, these same practices you are learning are preparing you for off of the mat.

"The balancing you are learning on the mat is teaching you how to have balance in real life. Learning to strengthen your heart space is to teach you how to be open in your life and your relationship with yourself. Increasing your flexibility on the mat teaches you how to be flexible in real life."

She continues, "Many people say how does this teach me things in real life? Well, with flexibility, it is mental. Do you know how many things you go through every day mentally. You are literally taking yourself through a process [that strengthens you mentally] and it becomes a domino effect that spills over into your life."

How To Make Yoga A Practice

Once we decide that we are going to try yoga in our routine for health and wellness, Tie suggests that we practice two to four times a week for at least 15 minutes or at the most 60 minutes with an instructor. As you begin to search for an instructor, remember it is about trust and finding someone you vibe with. Similar to the process of finding a therapist. It is very important to work with someone you like.

To connect with Tie Simpson follow her on Instagram and check out her Beginner's Guide to Starting Yoga for more. Also, check out Sisters of Yoga for many resources about yoga for Black people on Instagram.

Featured image by Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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