10 Basic Yoga Poses to Do Every Day for Better Health

Ready to get started with yoga at home? In this post, I’ll break down how to do 10 basic yoga poses for better health - and the benefits of each pose!

Mikah Horn
10 Basic Yoga Poses to Do Every Day for Better Health

There are many great reasons to add yoga to your daily routine, including mental and physical health benefits.

More and more doctors are recommending yoga as a way to support the healing process and work towards optimal health. A growing body of research shows that yoga offers many health benefits (mental and physical). It can help with help with back pain, posture, flexibility, balance, stress reduction, mood, sleep, and more.

The best thing is, you don’t have to do hours and hours of yoga every day to get these benefits. Just a few minutes of yoga at home can go a long way in improving your health.

There are hundreds and hundreds of poses in contemporary yoga, but when I'm teaching my yoga classes I find myself repeatedly coming back to the same ones. These 10 poses are beginner-friendly and provide incredible benefits for our health and well-being without much risk.

Here are the 10 basic yoga poses to do every day for better health: 

  1. Cat & Cow
  2. Cobra
  3. Child's Pose
  4. Low Lunge
  5. Chair Pose
  6. Tree Pose
  7. Wide-Legged Forward Fold
  8. Seated Twist
  9. Bridge Pose
  10. Savasana

Ready to try them out? In this post, I’ll break down how to do these 10 yoga poses for better health - and the benefits of each!

*Important note: To be clear, individual yoga poses on their own are not magic. The yoga poses work together as a part of the entire system of yoga. That said, this is a great place to start. Notice how each pose feels in your body and take 5-8 deep, intentional breaths in each pose.

1. Cat & Cow 

These are technically two poses, but they are so frequently linked together that we'll count them as one.

How to do it:

  • Cow: From your hands and knees, on your inhale: Gently drop your belly, reach the center of your chest forward, and gaze upward.
  • Cat: From cow, on your exhale: Round your spine, draw the navel in, and release your head down.
  • Move between these two positions on the breath. Inhale, open. Exhale, round.

Benefits of Cat & Cow: 

This pose is helps to articulate the spine, move almost every joint in the body in a non-invasive way, and to alternately contract and stretch the upper back, lower back and neck to increase circulation and relieve tension. It's also a great way to connect movement to breath and get in the flow at the beginning of your practice.

2. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

How to do it:

  • Lie on your belly and place your palms face down under your shoulders.
  • Engage your shoulder blades, drawing them back and down.
  • Use your back to lift your chest up and forward.
  • Draw the low belly in and lengthen the tailbone down to your heels.

Benefits of Cobra Pose:

Cobra pose counteracts all of our typical bad postural habits (like slouching). It's great for strengthening the upper and lower back, stabilizing the sacrum, and stretching the front of the body. It can also be used to work with the neck and shoulders, depending on the pose variation.

3. Child's Pose (Balasana)

How to do it:

  • From your hands and knees, sit your hips back on your heels.
  • Extend your arms forward in front of you.
  • Option to separate your knees and bring toes in to touch to create more space.
  • Use this pose to rest or check in with your body and breath.
  • NOTE: It's okay if your hips don't touch your heels!

Benefits of Child's Pose:

I like to argue that rest and stillness is just as important (if not MORE important) than the movement in yoga. Taking child's pose for a few breaths can help you explore the power of the pause, tune in to what you're feeling, and notice any shifts in your energy as you go through your practice. Child's pose also stretches your lower back, upper back, and neck. I like to invite exploration of my breath in this pose, directing the flow of the breath to my back ribs.

4. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

How to do it:

  • From your hands and knees, step your right foot up in-between your hands.
  • Release your back knee down to the mat.
  • Lift up your torso and sweep both hands up by your ears.
  • Draw the low belly in to engage your core and lengthen your tailbone down.

Benefits of Low Lunge: 

Low lunge is great for strengthening the legs and core while stretching the hip flexors and calves. Different arm variations engage specific areas of the back, neck, and shoulders. It requires grounding and control while also inviting expansion and length.

5. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

How to do it:

  • From standing, bend your knees and sit back like you’re sitting into a chair.
  • Reach your arms out straight to shoulder height or higher. If it feels better in your body, you can keep your hands pressed together in front of your heart.
  • Keep your knees behind your toes (or right above) by shifting your weight back to your heels.
  • Press your feet down actively and try to stretch the mat out between your feet to find lower body engagement.

Benefits of Chair Pose:

Chair pose strengthens your lower body, your back, and your core. It's an excellent pose for improving your balance and focus, and it increases your heart rate and improves blood flow and circulation. I like to encourage my students to slow their breath down and find ease in this posture. This is a wonderful way to explore self-regulation during times of challenge.

6. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

How to do it:

  • Balance on one leg.
  • Bring the opposite foot to the inside of your ankle, your calf, or your upper thigh, avoiding the knee joint.
  • Lift up through the crown of your head, engage your abdominals, and level your hips.
  • Remember to breathe!

Benefits of Tree Pose:

Tree pose can be used to train balance AND strengthen the muscles that are directly involved in maintaining balance, especially the gluteus medius. Practicing tree pose can also develop presence, teaching us how to breathe and find ease in a pose that requires a lot of effort and focus.

7. Wide-Legged Forward Fold

How to do it:

  • Walk your feet out wide and turn the toes in so your feet are parallel.
  • Hinging from the hips, lead with the chest into a forward fold.
  • Start with your knees bent as you come down, and then see how it feels to straighten your legs.
  • Release your hands down to your mat or a block.
  • Soften your shoulders and release your head.

Benefits of Wide-Legged Forward Fold:

Wide-legged forward bend is mainly used for stretching the lower back, inner thighs, and hamstrings. Different adaptations strengthen upper and lower back and stretch the shoulders.

8. Seated Twist (Lord of the Fishes)

How to do it:

  • From a seated position, bring your left leg around and place the left foot on the outside of the right ankle.
  • Option to stretch out the bottom leg.
  • Take your left hand behind you for support.
  • Inhale, lengthen the spine, exhale twist to the left.
  • Hook your elbow on the outside of the knee or hug the knee in towards you.
  • Prioritize your breath and your posture here - no slouching! 

Benefits of Seated Twist:

Seated twist rotates the spine and realigns the relationship between the shoulder girdle and the spine, as well as pelvic girdle and the spine. It stretches the neck and outer hip. Extending the bottom leg makes the pose easier for most people and different arm adaptations change the intensity of the twist.

9. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

How to do it:

  • Lying on your back with arms down by your side, bend your knees and plant your feet about hip-distance apart.
  • Press your hips up as high as is comfortable.
  • Shuffle your shoulders under you so your heart lifts.
  • Follow the flow of the breath through your body.

Benefits of Bridge Pose:

Bridge pose is a backbend that's great building lower body strength (hamstrings, quadriceps, hips, glutes) and therefore supporting the knee joints and potentially easing back pain. It's also great for improving posture because it actively stretches the chest and the back of the neck while contracting the upper and mid back muscles. This pose is accessible to most students, so it's a wonderful pose to hold and explore drawing inward, tuning in to sensation and the breath.

10. Savasana

How to do it:

  • Rest in a way that's comfortable for you.
  • Let go of effort and practice stillness.
  • Spend at least a few breaths here.

Benefits of Savasana:

I would argue that this is the most important and beneficial pose of all! Savasana allows your nervous system to calm and shift into the "rest and digest" mode. Most of us live our day to day lives in sympathetic overdrive, sometimes known as the "fight or flight" mode. Giving yourself a few minutes of complete rest is essential for balanced health and well-being. No matter how busy you are, please don't skip savasana! 

Want a printable version of these poses?

Enter your info below and I'll share my Yoga at Home Toolkit with you for FREE!

The Yoga at Home Toolkit Includes:

  • Downloadable guide to 10 yoga poses for better health. Print it out and put it by your mat!
  • Yoga Practice Log to keep track of your new habit