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8 Relaxing poses for yoga beginners

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Simple yoga poses with all of the Zen and none of the handstands

If you want a terrible start to your yoga practice, go ahead and follow a professional yogini on Instagram.

Sure, their poses are stunning. But don't they know that yoga isn't a competitive sport? How do they expect the rest of us to pull ourselves off the couch and look like blobs in comparison?

The good news for the rest of us, of course, is that yoga isn't all about folding into a pretzel or balancing on a big toe. In fact, the following yoga poses are the perfect start to a Zen-like yoga routine, regardless of your fitness level.

1. Forward fold

Simple yoga poses with all of the Zen and none of the handstands

Try to keep your knees straight as you fold forward from the hips, while lengthening the torso. Don't collapse forward like a used Kleenex, but instead breathe and extend as you reach towards the floor.

2. Child's pose

Simple yoga poses with all of the Zen and none of the handstands

Start in a kneeling position, with your toes touching each other and your booty sinking to the floor between your thighs. Fold at the hips and extend your arms over your head with your palms up, until your forehead reaches the mat.

3. Cat-cow flow

Simple yoga poses with all of the Zen and none of the handstands

Begin your flow by resting in a tabletop position — which is a fancy way of saying on all fours. When you exhale, push your back towards the ceiling and drop your head towards your hands for cat pose. Hold for a few seconds before returning to tabletop, and then curve your spine towards the ground and your head towards the ceiling for cow pose.

4. Mountain pose

Simple yoga poses with all of the Zen and none of the handstands

From a standing position, push your feet firmly into the ground. Look straight ahead and shoot your fingertips towards the floor as you slightly flex the space between your shoulder blades. Mountain pose is the practice of excellent posture — it's like standing, but better. If you have a hard time finding your balance, place your hands together in a praying position.

5. Happy baby

Simple yoga poses with all of the Zen and none of the handstands

How can a happy baby hurt so good? Start by lying on your back, and bend your knees as you bring your hands to the outside of your feet. Pull your feet towards your torso, while keeping the bent knees and your back planted into the ground. You should feel like your pelvis and hips are on fire (in a confusingly pleasant way).

6. Legs on the wall

Simple yoga poses with all of the Zen and none of the handstands

Obtain all the benefits of an inversion pose with very little work by doing the "L" on wall. Lie on your back, and push your booty up to the base of a wall, as you extend your legs towards the ceiling. Keep your back and legs straight. This pose is good for stress, but I mostly use it because I like it when my legs tingle.

7. Staff pose

Simple yoga poses with all of the Zen and none of the handstands

The staff pose might look like you're just sitting, but there's more than meets the eye. Flex your leg muscles into the mat below you, as you work to sit as tall as possible without using your hands for balance. Kind of hard, right?

8. Corpse pose

Simple yoga poses with all of the Zen and none of the handstands

Lie on your back and breathe.

Can I get an amen on the corpse pose? It looks freakin' stunning, and I love any workout that allows me to lie on the ground with my eyes closed.

Simple yoga poses with all of the Zen and none of the handstands

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