From Live Better America

Yoga For Beginners: 5 Gentle Yoga Poses for Every Body

01/18/2013 03:18 pm ET | Updated Sep 30, 2013

Soft and slow in pace, yoga can help relieve stress and still give you a challenging enough routine to burn calories, tone your abs, and improve flexibility. This gentle workout will strengthen your “core” muscles — those in the torso area, including your back and abs. When your core is strong, those muscles can help brace and protect your spine, improving your posture. What’s more, when you hold your body in the correct position, thanks to a strong core, you may feel better overall.

Everybody from couch potatoes to athletes stands to benefit from these five poses. Click through the slideshow below to find photos and directions for each.

The program: Add these moves to your regular exercise routine.
The payoff: Better posture, firmer abs, and more!
Bonus benefit: Standing up taller may actually add height and make you look a bit leaner.

Note: Before you begin any new exercise plan, check with your doctor to be sure the plan is right for you.

  • Twisted Root
    Live Better America
    Lie on your back in traditional sit-up position – with your hands clasped behind your head, feet on the floor, and knees bent. Then cross your right knee over your left knee, and try to interlock your right ankle with your left ankle. Next, inhale and curl your head and chest up. Exhale and curl your pelvis and thighs up, pulling your abs in toward your spine. Release and repeat three times. Next, place your hands on your left thigh. Push against your thighs as your thighs push against your hands. Hold for a breath and release, and then repeat the whole sequence with your legs switched.
  • Cat-Cow-Pointer Sequence
    Live Better America
    Get on all fours with knees and palms on the floor. Start this stretch by pulling your abs in and rounding your back upward into Scared Cat pose. Hold for a few seconds, and then press your abs down toward the floor, arching your back into Cow. Repeat one more time. Next, raise your left arm in front of you, with your thumb pointing toward the ceiling, and extend your right leg out behind you. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then round your core, bringing your left elbow in toward your right knee. Hold this position for 5 seconds, then extend and bring in for one more set. Repeat with the other side for two sets.
  • Twisted Warrior
    Live Better America
    From a standing position, move into Warrior I, stepping your left leg forward, toes straight ahead, and your right leg back, toes turned out. Root your feet into the ground, engage your core, and twist at the waist, hooking your right elbow over your left thigh. Make a fist with your right hand and brace your left hand on it, lifting your torso up off your thigh and relaxing your neck. Hold for a few breaths, and repeat on the other side.
  • Cobra Push-up With Roll
    Live Better America
    Squeeze a foam roll or a rolled-up beach towel between your thighs, and lie facedown, tucking your tailbone toward the mat. Place your hands under your shoulders, with elbows up, and push the tops of your feet into the floor. Next, inhale and push up on your arms, opening your chest into a Cobra position, pulling your rib cage forward as you squeeze the towel roll between your thighs and press your pelvis and feet into the floor. Be sure to keep your shoulders down. Exhale and release, lowering your chest slowly, one set of ribs at a time. Repeat three times.
  • Prone Gluteal
    Live Better America
    Lie facedown on the floor and place one forearm over the other, resting your forehead on both. Next, roll your pelvis slightly under and pull your abs up and in toward your spine. First raise your right leg a few inches off the floor, and then your left, keeping them both off the floor and about 1 foot apart, with toes slightly pointed. Squeeze your glutes and lower-back muscles, and pulse both legs up and down together a few inches for 20 counts. Rest for 20 seconds, and repeat for a total of three sets. To work your midback, bring your heels together and slightly bend your knees, and repeat for one more set of 20 pulses.