10 Modified Yoga Poses Every Beginner Should Start With
What gets my goat more than anything else is when I hear people say that they don’t do yoga because they’re not flexible, they’re too old, they have an injury, or they don’t have time. The list goes on and on. The truth is that anyone can do yoga at any stage of his or her life—we even teach in-bed yoga to people who are bed-bound. All poses can be modified and broken down so that the basic architecture is intact, and the benefits still plentiful. Below is just a small sampling of modified poses that any yoga beginner can practice. The next level of these poses are also in this sequence if you want to take it to the next step. Set aside 10 minutes and roll out your mat. You may surprise yourself.
1. Tree Pose
Yoga beginner version: With a hand on a wall or on the back of a chair, bring your foot to your opposite ankle. Place your other hand in front of your chest, or bring your arm overhead. Take five breaths, then switch sides.
Yoga beginner version: With knees bent, lean forward and place your hands on blocks. Take five breaths.
Yoga intermediate version: Keep a soft knee, and lean forward to place your hands on your ankles. Take five breaths here, with your head against your shins (if you can).
3. Downward Dog
Yoga beginner version: With a chair in front of you, lean forward to place your hands on the chair. Five breaths.
Yoga intermediate version: Come into downward-facing dog, with your hands on the mat. Take five breaths.
4. Cobbler’s Pose
Yoga beginner version: Sit with your hips on a folded blanket. Draw the heels into your body, as close as is comfortable for you. Support knees supported with blocks. Take five breaths here.
Yoga intermediate version: Sit on the ground with the soles of your feet together and pulled into your body. Place your hands behind you and leave knees dropped open. Take five breaths.
5. Sage Twist
Yoga beginner version: This is a simple twist, sitting on a blanket if necessary. Fold your knees, and place the top foot in the arch of the bottom foot. Twist to the opposite side of the top leg, and place your hand behind your knee. Take five breaths, then switch to the other side.
Yoga intermediate version: Bring one leg into hero’s pose, and bring the other foot into half lotus. Twist for five breaths on each side.
6. Restorative Backbend
Yoga beginner version: Lie on your mat, with a small blanket rolled beneath your back. Take ten breaths.
Yoga intermediate version: Lie on your mat, with a bolster beneath your back. Take ten breaths.
7. Cobra Pose
Yoga beginner version: Lie on your stomach with forearms on the ground and elbows under shoulders. Bring your head and chest up and down twice, slowly. On the third one, stay for three breaths.
Yoga intermediate version: Bring your hands alongside of the chest, keeping arms as straight as possible. Come up and down slowly twice and then on the third one, remain in the pose for three breaths.
8. Side Plank
Yoga beginner version: Place one knee on the floor, and keep one leg extended. Keep one hand on the floor, and raise the alternate arm, keeping shoulders square. Three breaths on each side.
Yoga intermediate version: With both legs extended, bring the top foot behind and lift your pelvis into a back bend.
9. Lotus Pose
Yoga beginner version: Sit in a simple crossed legged position on blankets, with your back at the wall or against a chair, and simply watch five cycles of breath.
Yoga intermediate version: Sit in half or full lotus and watch five cycles of breath.
10. Final Relaxation
Yoga beginner version: Lie on your mat with a bolster under the knees for five minutes.
Yoga intermediate version: Lie on your mat with arms at your sides for five minutes.
These ten poses make up an all-around sequence that most people can do. Hopefully it will leave you feeling clear, alert and relaxed. I don’t make many promises or guarantees, but I can promise you that you’ll feel better if you’re consistent with your yoga practice and make it part of your daily regimen. This is a service that goes far beyond your physical well-being. Enjoy, breathe, don’t force and then get on with your day.
In the yoga beginner photos, Colleen is wearing Quest Chaturanga Tights in Chianti and Beloved Bralette. In the yoga intermediate photos, Colleen is wearing Plaid Chaturanga Tights and Beloved Bralette.
Looking for more yoga sequences from Colleen? Find them here.