Yoga for Beginners

Rodney Yee’s Top 10 Yoga Poses to Practice Daily

Master teacher, Yoga Shanti co-owner, and YJ LIVE! presenter Rodney Yee shares his list of must-practice yoga poses, why they’re so important, and how best to sequence them in your practice.

Master teacher, Yoga Shanti co-owner, and YJ LIVE! presenter Rodney Yee shares his list of must-practice yoga poses, why they’re so important, and how best to sequence them in your practice.

1. Mountain Pose

rodney-yee-mountain-pose-2

Tadasana

Mountain Pose is all about playing with the central axis, which is an approximate plumb line starting at the front inner corners of the heels up to right in front of the tailbone, threaded through the front of the spine to the soft palate of the mouth and the crown of the head,” Yee says. “One gets to play with subtle alignment and sensitivity to postural changes.”

Practice

Sprinkle Tadasana throughout your sequence, returning to it in between the main poses of your practice.

See also 10 Poses That Stand the Test of Time

2. Handstand

rodney yee, outdoor yoga, handstand, adho mukha vrksasana

Adho Mukha Vrksasana

Handstands quickly bring you into the present moment, changing your perspective and mood,” Yee says. “It’s a great moment to experiment with how you breathe and receive perception during fear.”

Practice

For intermediate practitioners, use this pose in the beginning of your practice to mentally engage. For beginners, do Handstand after warming up with basic poses such as Down Dog.

See also 6 Yogis Then + Now: Where Were They 40 Years Ago?

3. Triangle Pose

rodney yee, triangle pose, trikonasana

Trikonasana

Triangle Pose wakes up your legs and trains them to support and feed your torso,” Yee says. “It teaches you about many complicated relationships between the legs, arms, torso, and head and neck. When you get close to evenness in this pose you have studied deeply.”

Practice

Use Trikonasana toward the beginning of your sequence to engage your legs in relation to your spine and arms.

See also Video: Prep for Revolved Split-Legged Headstand

4. Half Moon Pose

rodney yee, half moon pose, ardha chandrasana

Ardha Chandrasana

Half Moon Pose feels like flying when you hover around and through the balance point,” Yee says. “It creates pinpointed focus as you utilize the legs for orientation, grounding and flight, and teaches you the fine alignment of the feet, knees, and hip joints.”

Practice

Add Ardha Chandrasana to the middle of your practice for balance and mindfulness after your legs have been utilized.

See also Yoga: The Poetry of the Body by Rodney Yee with Nina Zolotow

5. Headstand

rodney yee, headstand pose, sirsasana

Sirsasana

Headstand is the ultimate pose to realign head to heart and simultaneously builds the strength of the neck muscles with responsiveness and sensitivity,” Yee says. “Headstands focus and quiet the mind.”

Practice

For intermediate practitioners, try Headstand in the beginning of your sequence to center yourself and ignite your fire energy. For beginners, try it in the middle to orient and awaken yourself.

See also We’re Celebrating 40 Years! Teachers Share the YJ Impact

6. Standing Backbend

rodney yee, standing backbend pose

Modified Urdhva Hastasana

“Standing Backbend builds a profound connection between your feet and the earth,” Yee says. “It brings health to the spine through articulation and awareness, addresses fear of falling backward, and teaches us not to hold our breath when in the beginning throngs of panic.”

Practice

Add this pose to toward the middle and climax of your backbend series. You can also sprinkle it throughout your sequence, depending on how far you take the backbend.

See also Meet the Innovators: Rodney Yee

7. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose

rodney yee, restorative legs up the wall pose, viparita karani

Viparita Karani

Viparita Karani is my ‘ahhhhhh’ pose of the day,” Yee says. “Your legs are above your heart, which helps with the blood flow back to the heart. Your chest is open because of the bolster under your sacrum, and there’s a Shoulderstand-like cooling of the nervous system from the Jalandhara position of your head. We should all be doing this every day to transition from our work to our personal life. This is the pose that is the change that I want to see in the world.”

Practice

Add this pose to the end of your sequence, as a cooling pose.

See also 10 Most Popular Yoga Sequences of 2015

8. Reclining Cobbler’s Pose

rodney yee, restorative yoga, cobbler pose, restorative fish pose

Supta Baddha Konasana

Reclining Cobbler’s Pose is a great pose for observing the breath and for absorption of Prana,” Yee says. “It’s wonderful for digestion and restoration of the legs.”

Practice

Use this pose at the end of your practice, cooling the body and moving toward Savasanaand/or Pranayama.

See also Let It All Go: 7 Poses to Release Trauma in the Body

9. Final Relaxation

rodney yee, corpse pose, savasana

Savasana

Savasana teaches us how to be relaxed while being mindful and integrated,” Yee says. “It teaches us how to let go of stories and drop into the present. Savasana is a great practice for sustaining peace.”

Practice

Do this pose whenever you can, but always at the end of your asana practice and before and after Pranayama.

See also How to Teach Savasana: Help Students Master Corpse Pose

10. Full Lotus

rodney yee, full lotus pose, padmasana

Padmasana

“Full lotus is the best pose for meditation, if perfected,” Yee says. “It teaches us about apana vayu, in perfect relationship to prana vayu, and sets up the suspension of the body so that the postural muscles can work minimally and optimally.”

Practice

Use this posture during meditation. Most practitioners need a full hip-opening series beforehand. For experienced yogis, come back to this pose throughout to promote the meditative quality of your practice.

See also 3 Hip Openers to Prep for Lotus Pose

About Rodney Yee

“All spiritual practice comes down to applying teachings to your own self, going inside, and listening to your body and heart,” says Rodney Yee, who has been practicing and teaching yoga for more than 25 years. With more than 30 DVDs and several books to his name, Yee co-chairs the Urban Zen Health and Wellness Foundation, founded by Donna Karan, with his wife Colleen Saidman Yee. He is a former gymnast and ballet dancer, now based in New York, where he teaches regular classes at Colleen’s studio, Yoga Shanti, in the Flatiron District. Follow him on:

 Twitter: @rodney_yee
 Facebook: @RodneyYeeYoga