The Twelve Basic Yoga Poses

Twelve Basic Yoga Poses

Andrea Bobby

Andrea is a teacher and lifelong practitioner of Yoga. Born in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India, she now resides in Ontario, Canada and offers online classes in classical Hatha Yoga. As the founder of Body Mind Light and the creator of its Online Shop, she strives to propagate the authentic, original wisdom of Yoga to the world. Read more...

24 Responses

  1. Antonis says:

    Never did yoga myself but i may consider it. Consice article you have here 🙂

  2. Joellen Bodak says:

    Ok – at first those poses made me really scared, but I’ve heard it can be relaxing. Great info. JoEllen

  3. mike says:

    I’ve been practicing yoga for my back pains and it work. Head stands for me are impossible. I get to a point were I don’t see much progress. Remember that I just watch videos and have no instructors. What do you recomend me to acomplish a bit more progress into my workouts? Thanks in advance.

    • Andrea Bobby says:

      Finding a good instructor that you’re comfortable with is the first step, Mike. After that, make it a point to practice regularly.
      I’m glad you find that yoga is helping you!

  4. Axton says:

    I tried Yoga once and it is really tough, sweat like a dog and never ever thought that Yoga can be so taxing. Yoga is definitely a good exercise for both body and mind, I will wanna pick it up again.

  5. Stella says:

    This is just what I need. I recently read about a 59 year old who looked like she was in her 30+ and she said one of the reasons for her youthfulness was that she did yoga everyday. A doctor had also said that stretching your muscles increases your life expectancy. So I really want to start yoga. its great that you have included pictures. Although some of these look too advanced for me. But hopefully one day I will be able to do them all. Wish me luck! Thank you for this!

  6. Roger says:

    I liked JoEllen’s comment that the poses made her scared! I can certainly understand why!

    I did some yoga when I was young (many years ago), and found it to be absolutely transforming. My body is not naturally flexible, so yoga definitely helped that. Though I amused my yoga classmates when I would react to the teacher’s instructions, “Now put your foot above your head.” I would laugh hysterically.

    But, may I ask, I’m overweight, 63, recovering from knee surgery (patella tendon repair), and very, very stiff. What type of yoga and poses should I use to get started?



    • Andrea Bobby says:

      Because of your recent injury, I recommend you start regular sessions under the guidance of an instructor, who can show you modifications on all the poses. With consistent practice, especially incorporating Sun Salutations, you’ll find that stiffness disappears and the body becomes stronger and more limber.

      Happy practising, Roger!

  7. Ash @ Spit Up and Sit Ups says:

    I feel like all yoga can be quite scary at the start, but it really is very rewarding when you continue to practice. I very much enjoyed your commentary on each move. It’s important to be able to target areas while practicing yoga. Definitely a great read for a beginner like myself!

  8. ArtByHeart says:

    Great article, I agree on the amazing health benefits of all these asanas. I have to disagree about the sirsasana being a basic pose. Headstand is not easy for a beginner, since it requires great control of your body and very strong core. Kakasana also takes some time to master as it’s again about learning to control your body and balancing your weight.
    I would rather start with practising Surya Namaskar daily, as it will give you a great basis control, before advancing to some of these poses.

    • Andrea Bobby says:

      Keep in mind that these are the 12 BASIC poses, not 12 BEGINNERS poses.

      In a beginners Sivananda session, Sirsasana is usually not practiced and Kakasana is replaced by the Tree Pose or another simpler balancing posture. An advanced session would hence incorporate more challenging variations of the above 12 basic poses, such as Headstand in Lotus pose or the Peacock Pose.

      Think of these 12 as a framework with which you can practice simpler or more advanced variations and substitutions.

      And yes, Surya Namaskar is a must!

  9. Kenny Lee says:

    I’ve always been fascinated by yoga, although I didn’t get the chance to learn. I like the fact that it develops both mind and physical at the same time. I have lower back pain and stiff necks. From your article, I think the Bow posture may be the best for me. Do I need to do some warm up first, or can I get in to the posture directly?

    • Andrea Bobby says:

      A warm up is always a good idea, Kenny. Keep in mind that the Sun Salutation is the perfect warm up for the 12 Basic Poses, so make sure that you do that at the beginning of your practice after your breathing exercises.

  10. Matt's Mom says:

    I have always wanted to do yoga, and keep thinking I will take the yoga class at the gym. Now I am thinking I need to start at home first! These poses look hard! I need a lot of stretching and a lot more flexibility. Do these poses take a little while to master? Can anyone do them if they stick with yoga, and work at the stretching, etc? I would love to be able to do all of them 🙂 They also have such great benefits!

    • Andrea Bobby says:

      It’s not about how far you can stretch. It’s how you feel in the pose, even if you’ve stretched just a few inches!
      And yes, anyone can do them with regular and consistent practice. Remember that yoga is for everyone, but not all poses are suited for each individual. Practicing under the guidance of a teacher will help you learn which poses are best for your body.

      Enjoy the benefits!

  11. Molly says:

    Keeping this, need a printout of it to practice everyday!! Haha the simplicity of this is awesome and feel like I have learned a ton. Thanks Andrea. Going to have to look up how to say those real yoga names.

  12. Apoorvaa says:

    Thanks for such useful piece of information.
    Just need your suggestion regarding how to do these yoga asans like every asan has to be done only once right…and we have to repeat these 12 asans everyday right for good results?
    Additionally I have migrane,spondelitis and slip disk problem also…so just need your suggestion like do I need to do all these asans or just skip any?

    • Andrea Bobby says:

      Hi there Apoorvaa!
      Yes, the 12 asanas are to be done one-by-one and in sequence during each session.
      Some or all of these poses can be modified or skipped altogether if you have underlying medical conditions. In your case, migraines, a slipped disc and spondylitis may be contraindications for many yogic postures. This is why it would be best for you to practice under the guidance of a teacher who can show you specific modifications and alternatives.

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