How to Start a Yoga Class – 5 Pose Ideas

This is the post for when you can’t make it to a yoga studio, when you don’t feel like following a set sequence, when you’re traveling, or when creativity is lacking & you just need some yoga inspiration.

Essentially, it’s a post for anyone who loves yoga – teacher or student – and is craving a starting point, but not the whole kit and caboodle.

Below are 5 ways to start a yoga practice.

These five postures/centering moments come directly from my personal practice, my personal teachings, and are very common in the yoga community. Below each suggestion, I’ll list out a few alignment tips & tricks, plus how to weave it in your practice and teachings.

And now, let’s begin.

1. Child’s Pose

This one’s an obvious one, I know.

But because it’s obvious, even more the reason to include it in this list + dive deeper into why yogis & yoga teachers love child’s pose.

Why We Love Balasana:

  • It promotes a drawing inward action to promote reflection, acceptance, self-care and comfort.
  • A lot is accomplished – the hips, chest, side body, and back are all extending and expanding here.
  • It allows the body & mind to become still, accept the present moment, and prepare the self for the practice ahead.

Alignment Tips & Tricks:

  • Bring big toes together and allow the knees to spread out wide.
  • Sink the hips back over the heels as the chest lowers towards the ground.
  • Walk the fingertips towards the front of the mat, creating a lot of space in the side body channels.
  • Relax the forehead down, allow the chest to surrender open, and the mind to soften.

Yoga Teacher Tips & Tricks:

  • Use for any class style – especially when students need to ground themselves.
  • For a restorative class – incorporate a blanket under knees or a bolster under the chest.
  • For a yin class – prop the elbows onto blocks, bring hands to touch, and thumbs to connect with back of neck. Think of a mild puppy pose, heart opener here.
  • For low back pain – bring knees together and hands towards the back of the mat.

How to Start a Yoga Class - 5 Pose Ideas

2. Mountain Pose

Why We Love Tadasana:

  • It requires us to be present and aware, in order to stand up straight.
  • It promotes a level of trust to rely on the body, with the eyes closed, as we stand rooted and tall.
  • It instills confidence, bravery and integrity – all within one simple shape.

Alignment Tips & Tricks:

  • Start from the ground up with this posture – starting at the toes and focusing your energy and breath all the way up to the crown of the head.
  • Gently activate your quads to lift the kneecaps & stabilize the posture.
  • Hug your shoulder blades onto the back & expand across your heart.
  • Guide your chin towards your chest, creating space along the back of the neck.
  • Close your eyes & breathe.

Yoga Teacher Tips & Tricks:

  • Use mountain pose to root/ground a loud, excited group of students.
  • Play off it’s mountain-like qualities to instill confidence for both the practice ahead & to take off the mat.
  • Invite students to sent an intention here, again recognizing the mountain-like badass quality that’s exuded here.

How to Start a Yoga Class - 5 Pose Ideas

3. Sukasana

…. also know as easy seat, or any comfortable seated position.

Why We Love Sukasana:

  • It immediately challenges us to “try” and quiet the mind, which rarely happens, but it does set the intention for what’s to come.
  • Requires just the right amount of activation/stretching for the hips, midsection, and spine.
  • Promotes a one-pointed focus, bringing the mind into the body.

Alignment Tips & Tricks:

  • Try either a cross-legged, heel stacking in front of heels, half lotus or full lotus position – whatever is most comfortable + able to be sustained for you!
  • Root down through your sitting bones & send the energy up through the spine, heart and the crown of the head – think like one unified whole.
  • If unable to maintain a long spine – sit on a block, bolster or folded blanket to encourage the pelvis tilting forward and the spine lengthening.

Yoga Teacher Tips & Tricks:

  • Invite everyone to take one – three cleansing breaths – through the nose & out the mouth – then settle into a few minutes of steady breathing.
  • Remind them to keep the breath active – resulting in the mind growing quiet & the soul growing brighter/louder.

How to Start a Yoga Class - 5 Pose Ideas

4. Downward Facing Dog

Why We Love Adho Mukha Svanasana:

  • It’s an all over body stretcher + strengthener – instantly creating warmth within the body.
  • Requires you to instantly drop into the pose, otherwise your yogi butt ain’t holding it.
  • It always start tight & unwelcoming and ends as a comfort & resting space.

Alignment Tips & Tricks:

  • Spread the fingers far apart, push down between the pointer & thumb fingers, and send the ground away – this will create length up through the arms, spine and down the backs of the legs.
  • Roll the upper arms out, creating space in the shoulder/neck area.
  • Allow the head/neck to relax.
  • Button the lower ribs down, engaging the core, and stabilizing the lower back.
  • Intentionally work your heels towards the ground, take your time!

Yoga Teacher Tips & Tricks:

  • Remind students to make organic movements when first coming into the pose – bicycle the legs, bend the knees, wag the tail, shift from side to side – do what feels good here!
  • Use this posture to immediately create heat, set a powerful intention, and get the ball rolling!

How to Start a Yoga Class - 5 Pose Ideas

5. Gentle Hip Opener

Why We Love the Hips:

  • The hips store mega amounts of tension, like too much. Any opportunity to release & stretch them is wonderful for the inner thighs, groin, knees and the lower back.
  • The hips neeeeeed love, because we sit all damn day, so again – can’t get enough of gentle, supportive hip openers to start the practice.
  • The hips are a well-known location for emotional tension too, so by starting in a gentle, vulnerable state, we set the tone for an honest yoga practice (or we can at least try).

Alignment Tips & Tricks:

  • If bringing the feet in towards the groin is too much, slide the feet further away until you experience awakening + ease.
  • If experiencing knee or low back pain, create fists with the hands and slide them right beneath your upper thighs/lower butt area – like a prop.
  • Rest hands atop hips/thighs (like shown), one hand on belly and the other on heart, or overhead – do what feels good.

Yoga Teacher Tips & Tricks:

  • To make the posture restorative and accessible to the masses – place blocks under each knee to support the pose.
  • Guide students through rounds of cleansing breaths to settle in & allow the body to open.
  • Instruct the breath to the hip and inner thigh area to help release the tension and stop gripping.

How to Start a Yoga Class - 5 Pose Ideas

And that’s a wrap!

Until next time, xoxo.

Hey! I’m Allie.

I’m a self-growth student, freedom-seeker, yoga teacher and the founder of a tight-knit online yoga community: the Body Mind Soul Studio. I’m here to teach you how to transform your life on-and-off-the-mat with a holistic yoga practice.

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If your practice has waned, if your yoga journey feels lonely or you like the way I share yoga’s teachings, then this is where you need to be. Join me once a month, for free, to practice yoga as a community.

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If your practice has waned, if your yoga journey feels lonely or you like the way I share yoga’s teachings, then this is where you need to be. Join me once a month, for free, to practice yoga as a community.