The health benefits of practicing yoga are constantly touted by fitness gurus and scientific researchers alike: practicing yoga has been linked to reducing stress, boosting flexibility, an even helping with back pain. We know you've heard all of this before — and yet, we also know how intimidating it can be to unroll your mat in a class full of headstand pros.
For a lot of people, yoga's reputation as an elite club for the effortlessly bendy and hopelessly Zen keeps them from ever trying a class. But it doesn't have to be this way.
"The yoga you see in [certain] magazines aren’t the reality of 95% of the people practicing yoga," Andrew Tanner, chief ambassador for Yoga Alliance, tells Refinery29. "Because people associate the look of the poses with yoga, they assume that their bodies will never do those things and therefore they’re not good at yoga."
The most important thing to know about yoga, Tanner adds, is that many of the benefits come from the focus on your breath and your body's abilities, not about how well you can do a fancy pose.
Plus, you don't even need to go to an actual class to do yoga — there are plenty of moves that you can do at home. With that in mind, we got Laura Ahrens of Ahrens Yoga (and author of Mat As Mirror) to show us a few key yoga moves that are great for anyone who's just starting out. These poses are best done in order, but you're welcome to mix it up once you get the hang of them. Doing five of these moves for just 10 minutes in the morning (holding each for 30 seconds to a minute and breathing) can work wonders for your stress levels, strength, and flexibility.
You don't even have to do them every day — start with just two or three times a week. Click ahead to check out some moves that might turn you into a yogi.