Top 5 Yoga Poses for the Beginner

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No longer reserved for “free spirits” with Sufi nicknames, yoga is a mainstream workout with proven health benefits. The steady breathing and progressively difficult poses in yoga help you relax, gain muscle tone and improve your flexibility and balance. When trying yoga for the first time, go slow with simple poses that any beginner can do.

5 Tree Pose

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If you’re looking for a newbie challenge, do the tree pose, which tests your balance. While standing straight, bring your hands together as if you are praying. Keep your hands in this position and lift them above your head. With your arms in the air, balance on your left leg by resting your right foot on the inside of your left thigh. Your right knee should point toward the side. Try to hold this pose for 30 seconds before switching sides. If you find yourself falling over after 2 seconds, bring your right foot to the inside of your left ankle, but keep your toes on the ground. As you get stronger, move your foot up to your calf and then to your thigh.

4 Seated Twist

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The seated twist pose works your abs and gives you a deep stretch in your hips, thighs and back. As you sit on the floor with your legs out, bend your right leg. Place your right foot on the outside of your left thigh so it’s just behind the left knee. If you like, bend your left leg as it rests on the floor so your foot is next to your right thigh. Otherwise, keep your left leg straight. To do the twist, put your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Keep your balance by placing your right hand on the floor. Twist to the right as far as you can, and hold the pose for a minute. Switch sides and repeat.

3 Warrior Pose

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Work your arms, abs, bum and thighs with the warrior pose. Stand in a normal position and then turn your right foot out at a 90-degree angle. While keeping your shoulders relaxed, place your hands on your hips. Extend your arms out to your sides and the palms of your hands face down. Your arms should be parallel to the floor. Bend your right knee at a 90-degree angle and slide your left foot back 3 or 4 feet, depending on your flexibility. Your right thigh should be parallel with the floor and your knee over your ankle. Line your chin up with your right shoulder so you look past your fingertips. Hold this pose for a minute before switching sides.

2 Cobra Pose

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The cobra pose stretches your lower back, improves flexibility and works your arms. Start by lying face down on the floor with the tops of your feet flat on the floor. Put your hands near your shoulders, as if you were going to do a pushup. Use your arms to push your torso, abdomen and even hips off the floor. Keep your legs flat on the ground. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, return to the starting position and repeat the sequence.

1 Mountain Pose

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It doesn’t get simpler than the mountain pose. To do it, stand up straight and plant your feet firmly on the floor. Bring your shoulders back as if you were trying to stand up super straight, but keep your arms relaxed. In one variation of this pose, you leave your arms at your side and feel the energy shoot through your back and legs (in a good way). In another variation, you take a deep breath as you lift your arms above your head with the palms of your hands facing each other. Reach for the stars with your fingertips and feel the stretch in your back.

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