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

Yoga For Beginners: 5 Gentle Yoga Poses for Every Body

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.

Gentle Yoga Poses