The 10 Best Yoga Poses To Do Every Day, According To The Pros

No hour-long flow needed.

Instructors share the best yoga poses to do every day.
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If you like the idea of an hour-long yoga flow but simply don’t have that much time, you can zero in on the most beneficial yoga poses and focus on them instead. By whittling down the yoga roster to a few choice postures, it’s possible to reap all the same benefits with no major commitment required.

While you might be led to believe that a yoga routine should look a certain way based on social media, there’s no wrong way to practice — and no fixed amount of time you *have* to flow in order to be a true yogi, as Annie Moves, a certified yoga instructor with Alo Moves, tells Bustle. “My practice looks and feels different every day,” she says.

If you want to stretch all your major muscles, simply pick a variety of multi-beneficial poses and drop into them throughout your day. As long as you do them regularly, you’ll feel the perks, notes Christine Kick, a master instructor for YogaSix. “Since yoga is a mind-body practice, the benefits of doing yoga every day will not only result in physical adaptations like strength and flexibility, but will also help improve your mental health and ability to regulate your thoughts and emotions,” she tells Bustle.

You can lump all the best yoga poses together for a mini flow or do a couple on an as-needed basis, like when you feel stiff and achy by mid-afternoon. “You can get a lot of benefit from stretching throughout the day, whether it’s a few minutes on a lunch break, getting up to stretch once an hour if you’re at a desk all day, or taking a few minutes to stretch first thing in the morning,” Kick says. “A little can definitely help and add up over time, so really, the best time to stretch is whenever you can make it happen.”

Looking for the best of the best? Here, instructors share the 10 most beneficial yoga poses to do every day.

1. Downward Dog

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Downward dog is one of the foundational yoga poses, Moves tells Bustle. Not only is it grounding, but it also serves as a way to check in with yourself and see where you’re at in your practice. As a bonus, the pose stretches your entire back body, including your hamstrings and calves, Kick adds, and it provides a boost of energy by increasing your circulation.

- Start on your hands and knees.

- Lift your hips up and back.

- Keep a micro bend in your knees.

- Lower your head to create an inverted V-shape with your body.

- Press your hands firmly into the mat and actively engage your core.

- Focus on lengthening your spine.

- Relax your neck and shoulders.

- Pump your heels up and down if you like.

- Hold the pose for five to 10 breaths.

2. Garland Pose

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The infamous low yogi squat, or garland pose, is an ideal way to open up tight hips, Moves says. Try it mid-afternoon for the ultimate stretch break.

- Stand with your feet mat-width apart.

- Point your toes out.

- Lower your hips and bum as close to the mat as you can.

- Use your elbows to press into your knees to help widen your legs.

- Bring your hands to your chest.

- Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed.

- Lengthen through the crown of your head.

- Press into your feet for balance.

- Hold for five to eight breaths.

3. Cobra Pose

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Cobra pose is a one-stop shop for all your yoga needs. It opens your heart chakra, eases lower back pain, and helps improves your posture thanks to the way it pushes your shoulders back and down, Moves says. Do it regularly and you’ll stand up a little straighter.

- Lie face-down on your mat.

- Place your palms under your shoulders.

- Inhale as you press into your hips and the tops of your feet.

- Lift your upper body off the mat.

- Keep your elbows in at your sides.

- Keep your neck and shoulders neutral.

- Hold for five to eight breaths.

4. Supine Spinal Twist

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According to Kick, a supine spinal twist is one of the best ways to release tension in your back and hips. It’s also said to improve digestion, which is a great perk whenever you feel bloated.

- Lie on your back.

- Bring your knees in towards your chest.

- Let your knees drop to one side.

- Keep both shoulders relaxed on the ground.

- Hold for five to eight breaths, then switch sides.

5. Happy Baby Pose

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Happy baby pose is one you have to try at least once a day, Moves says. Not only does it open your hips, but it also releases tension in your lower back — and it’s really fun. Try it in the morning or whenever you need a pick-me-up.

- Lie on your back.

- Bend your knees in towards your chest.

- Catch the outsides of your feet in your hands.

- Gentle pull your feet wide to create space in your hips.

- Press your back into the mat.

- Hold still or create movement by rocking side to side to massage your back.

- Repeat for five to eight breaths.

6. Triangle Pose

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“This standing pose stretches the legs, hips, and side body,” Kick says of triangle. “It also helps to improve balance and strengthens the legs and core.”

- Step your feet wide apart.

- Turn your front foot so it points forward.

- Extend your arms out to your sides, parallel to the floor.

- Lean your torso to the side, keeping your legs straight.

- Reach your front hand towards the front foot.

- Extend your other arm up to the ceiling.

- Look up.

- Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute.

- Repeat on the other side.

7. Pigeon Pose

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“Pigeon pose is a deep hip-opening pose which, in my opinion, is the best way to release stagnant tension from the hips,” Moves says. The hips are said to hold onto emotions, which is why she recommends doing this pose on the regular to keep your energy moving.

- Start in downward dog.

- Bring your lifted leg through your hands towards your chest.

- Bend your leg and rest it behind your right hand.

- Keep your other leg extended behind you.

- Sit upright with a neutral back and relaxed shoulders.

- Hold for five to eight breaths on each side.

8. Standing Forward Fold

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Feeling achy at your desk? Try a forward fold mid-day as a way to clear your head. “This pose releases tension in the back, hamstrings, and calves,” Kick says. “It also helps to calm the mind and relieve stress.”

- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.

- Hinge forward at the hips.

- Let your head and hands hang towards the floor.

- Bend your knees slightly if needed.

- Move around like a ragdoll to release achy muscles.

- Allow the weight of your body to deepen the stretch.

- Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute.

9. Cat-Cow Pose

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To give your back a little more love, Kick suggests this spinal mobility movement, otherwise known as the cat-cow. Do it on a daily basis to stay limber.

- Begin on your hands and knees.

- Arch your back up like a cat while tucking your chin in towards your chest.

- Next, drop your belly down and lift your chest while looking forward for cow.

- Move between these two positions, flowing with your breath.

- Repeat the sequence for five to 10 rounds.

10. Child’s Pose

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For a quick stretch before bed, get on the ground and try child’s pose — aka the ultimate lazy girl stretch. This posture feels like a self-hug, Moves says, which is why it’s so calming. It’s also an easy way to stretch your lower back, hips, and thighs, Kick says, for the perfect end-of-day treat.

- Start by kneeling on the floor.

- Sit back on your heels while lowering your forehead to the mat.

- Reach your arms forward or alongside your body.

- Hold the pose for one to three minutes.

- Focus on deep, relaxed breathing.

Studies referenced:

Hendriks, T. (2017). The Effects of Yoga on Positive Mental Health Among Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Altern Complement Med. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0334.

Kumar, A. (2018). Musculoskeletal Modeling and Analysis of Trikonasana. International Journal of Yoga, 11(3), 201-207.

Sherman, KJ. (2010). Comparison of yoga versus stretching for chronic low back pain: protocol for the Yoga Exercise Self-care (YES) trial. Trials. doi: 10.1186/1745-6215-11-36.


Christine Kick, master instructor for YogaSix

Annie Moves, certified yoga instructor with Alo Moves