Forget weights — these yoga stretches for beginners strengthen your core in just 25 minutes

Natasha Lee performing a yoga flow routine
(Image credit: Yogi Bare / Natasha Lee)

Yoga can be a great way to move your body, strengthen your mind-muscle connection, and boost your wellbeing, but joining a class for the first time can be an intimidating experience. 

Even once you've got one of the best yoga mats to hand, there are a lot of unfamiliar poses and if you're working on a budget, regularly visiting a studio can be an expensive pastime. 

To help you ease into the practice, we asked experienced yoga teacher Natasha Lee to put together a short sequence of yoga stretches for beginners for you to try. They're designed as a yoga flow routine, so you'll ease from one pose into the next. 

It can be hard to find time for a new routine, but the benefits of yoga make it worth the investment. The practice emphasizes breath control, gentle movements, and mindfulness, providing a nurturing environment for those new to fitness or seeking stress relief. 

Natasha Lee
Natasha Lee

Natasha Lee is a yoga instructor with over five years of teaching experience. She was previously a professional dancer and choreographer but turned to yoga after a transformative experience while traveling in Bali, Indonesia. Her classes are creative, accessible, and alignment-focused, thanks to her experience as a dancer, which also helps her focus on breathwork and body awareness. 

Natasha Lee's yoga stretches for beginners routine

Lee developed this beginner-friendly routine with Yogi Bare to integrate purposeful sequencing and gentle movements, with an emphasis on tranquillity to give you a calm, restorative introduction to yoga. 

Some of these positions will seem familiar if you regularly add stretches into your routine, but others, like Chaturanga and Downward Dog, are staple yoga poses and pop up in most classes. 

This 25-minute routine is arranged as a yoga flow class, so you'll gradually move between poses rather than return to a starting position before beginning the next move, and it is split into 8 segments. 

It's important to focus on your breath as this will help connect your mind and body, and it helps reduce stress and creates a sense of calm that'll help you wind down before bed or start the day on a positive note. 

You can follow along with Lee's demonstrations as she guides you between poses, or practice your technique with her video, and then use the sequence listed below to take things at your own pace. 

Segment 1: Opening sequence

Sit crossed-legged on your mat, and give your mind and body time to settle into the space and prepare for the flow ahead. You want to spend a few moments connecting with your breath and setting your intentions. 

Segment 2: Warming up

Take a minute to perform cat-cow stretches. Start on all fours with your knees on the ground and seamlessly move between arching your back (cow) and rounding your spine (cat) to increase flexibility and mobility in the spine. Inhale as you arch, and exhale as you round.

Segment 3: Sun salutations

This sequence includes Mountain Pose, Forward Fold, Halfway Lift, Plank, Chaturanga, Upward Dog, and Downward Dog. It's a fluid series designed to build heat, increase flexibility, and connect breath with movement.

  • Mountain Pose
  • Forward Fold
  • Halfway Lift
  • Plank
  • Chaturanga
  • Upward Dog
  • Downward Dog

Segment 4: Standing and sitting poses (first side)

This section focuses on poses you do while standing and sitting, so it's important to keep your weight balanced and in your heels for stability as you move between positions on your feet. You'll do these on one side, then repeat them later in the session on the other side.

  • Warrior Two
  • Extended Side Angle Pose
  • Humble Warrior Pose
  • Seated Forward Fold
  • Pigeon Pose

Segment 5: Balancing poses

These two positions will begin to activate your core, the muscles around your stomach responsible for balance, and stability, and connect your upper and lower body before you specifically target these muscles in the next segment. 

  • Tree Pose
  • Warrior Three

Segment 6: Core and plank sequence

The previous segment warmed up the muscles around your core and abs, and these four poses will focus on this area, challenging and strengthening your mid-body muscles to improve your balance in class and make everyday tasks like walking and lifting easier. 

  • High Plank
  • Chaturanga
  • Upward Dog
  • Downward Dog

Segment 7: Standing and sitting poses (second side)

It's time to repeat these standing and sitting poses from earlier but on the other side, so if you started with your left foot forward before, begin with your right foot ahead of you this time. 

  • Warrior One
  • Warrior Two
  • Extended Side Angle Pose
  • Humble Warrior Pose
  • Seated Forward Fold
  • Pigeon Pose

Segment 8: Closing sequence and final relaxation

After completing the main yoga flow routine, it's time to let your body relax, unwind, and lower your heart rate. Camel and Bridge pose gradually stretch your muscles, while Child's pose and Savasana finish are designed to make you feel calm before you return to whatever you're doing next. 

  • Camel Pose
  • Bridge Pose
  • Child's Pose
  • Savasana (Corpse Pose)

What are the benefits of these yoga stretches for beginners?

Yoga's focus on breath and mindfulness aids in stress relief, and according to a study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, yoga has a positive impact on those suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression.

However, research in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science shows that yoga also builds awareness of body alignment, contributing to better posture — from flexibility in the ankles and a lengthened spine to the release of tight muscles and awareness of how we hold our bodies.

The focus on your breath develops the mind-muscle connection, helping to create an awareness of your body and improve your posture. Plus, paying attention to your breath helps slow it down to promote a sense of calm and quiet in a similar way to building mental strength

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Mollie Davies
Mollie is a UK based, Welsh, lifestyle journalist. She writes frequently on all things involving women, health and fitness, and beauty - amongst other topics. Her work can be found in Cosmopolitan, Insider, the Independent, Women’s Health and more. In her spare time, you’ll find her at the pottery wheel or walking her basset hound.