Five yoga poses everyone should do

Siski Green

Feel the benefits of yoga with these five essential yoga poses.



You don’t need to be a slender mat-wielding lycra-wearing type to enjoy the benefits of yoga. The benefits are many – reduced stress, greater flexibility, stronger body, cardiovascular health and protection from injury too.

So take a deep breath and dive into yoga with these five yoga poses everyone should do.

Related: How yoga benefits both mind and body

Kapalbhati Pranayama (sitting cross-legged)

If you’d like a tighter more streamlined midriff, as well as an improved digestive system, a few minutes of simple sitting and deep breathing is all you need.

Sit cross-legged on the floor, making sure your spine is erect. This doesn’t mean you should sit stiffly but that you should try to pull your upper body upwards, so that you’re taller.

Now take a deep breath, making sure you don’t just fill your upper chest but fill your entire lungs with air.

Exhale and pull in your stomach as you do so. It helps if you put your hand on your abdomen as you inhale and exhale.

Repeat 20 times.

Related: 8 ways to banish belly fat

Anulom Vilom Pranayama (breathing through one nostril, then the other)

To give yourself a different, calmer outlook on life and to release stress, nothing is as effective as this yoga move.

Sit in a cross-legged position and close your eyes. Now place one finger over one nostril, and inhale through the other while counting slowly to four.

Now hold your breath for a count of 16, and exhale from the nostril you had closed, while closing the other one instead.

Related: How stress affects your health

Ardh Matsyendrasana (seated twist)

Backache or lack of flexibility is something that most of us experience at one time or another but this yoga move will help improve your flexibility and ease back pain too. It'll also help keep your stomach muscles in shape.

Sit with your left leg bent as though in a cross-legged position, the right leg bent too but upright rather than laying on the floor. The right leg’s foot will be beyond the left leg.

Now put your right hand behind your back and gently raise your left hand and move it across the right knee to the ankle. Gently twist your waist.

Now do the same switching the legs.

Related: Self-help tips for lower back pain

Vrikshasana (balancing on one foot)

Strengthen your leg muscles as well as improve your balance and stretch your inner thigh and chest and shoulder muscles too.

Stand tall, but use a chair as a support if you need to. Place your feet so they are directly under your thighs - so not farther out than your hips nor too close to each other. Bend your right knee and place your foot on the thigh of the other leg.  As high as you are comfortably able.

Take a deep breath, then if you can, raise your arms (or one of your arms if you’re holding on to a chair) and try to bring the palms of your hands together. Look straight ahead. Take deep breaths and exhalations.

Now do the same with the other leg.

Related: Off-balance? Find your feet with these tips

Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (an upper-body push up)

This yoga pose is variously called the peacock or dolphin and can be extremely difficult if taken to its extreme – balancing only on your forearms with your entire body lifted into the air!

But as with all yoga moves, there are varying levels you can try. This one is really worth working at as it will give you solid strength in your core, helping you get a flatter stomach, a well-supported back and better posture too.

For this pose, lie face down on the floor and position your elbows under your shoulders, your palms flat on the floor. Raise your body so that the only parts touching the ground are your forearms and hands, and your toes. Aim to keep your body in a straight line.

If raising your whole body is too hard, start with just your upper body.

Related: The different types of yoga

Nb: If you aren't used to exercise, see your GP before you start. They'll be able to tell you the right type of exercise for you, and give advice on starting slowly and building up gently.

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