A Beginner Yogi’s Guide


How to Place Your Hands and Feet

The following is a simple guide to the optimal general hand and foot placement for a beginner yogi; “setting your foundation” so to speak.

While there are different approaches taken in different schools of Asana (Asana are yoga poses), the placement of hands and feet outlined below is the simplest most balanced approach for a beginner. This approach places the body in its optimal neutral alignment and allows the bones to stack in a balanced manner to help avoid injury and misalignments in the early stages of your new practice.

Standing Poses: Forward Facing

Feet Hip-Width Apart Stance

In order to find a hip width apart and parallel stance, do the following:

Stand at the top of your mat

Find the two points of your hip-bones at the sides of your lower abdomen with your index fingers – left finger on left point, right finger on right point

Visualize a straight line starting from your fingers at your hip points and running down to intersect the center of each knee and and the center of each ankle

Move your feet until the imaginary lines are straight up and down by either widening or narrowing your stance

Continue that line straight forward to the base of your second toes. The second toe should point straight forward NOT the big toe. Adjust your feet accordingly (do not use the side of your foot to find parallel feet, as the outside of everyone’s foot is shaped differently)

Find the four corners of your feet and evenly root them to your mat:

  • Big toe mound
  • Pinky toe mound
  • Inside edge of heel
  • Outside edge of heel

Lift and spread your toes, keep them spread as you release them to the mat


Hand Placement

How to place your hands for downward dog, plank pose, arm balances and inversions:

Come to all fours

Knees stacked just back of your hips, hips width apart

Stack your shoulders over your wrists, straight up and down (the shoulders should not be forward or backward of wrists)

Outer shoulder width apart – draw an imaginary line straight down from the outside of your shoulder to the center of your wrist. Move your hands until the imaginary lines are straight up and down by either widening or narrowing the distance between your hands on your mat

Spread your fingers wide and evenly apart from each other

Once you have repositioned your hands and spread your fingers evenly, continue your imaginary lines forward from the center of your wrist, up the back of your hands, to the “v” of skin between your index and middle fingers

From the “v”, continue your imaginary lines extending onto your mat

The imaginary lines on your matt should be parallel. Rotate your hands in or out until the imaginary lines are parallel

All four corners of your palm connect to the mat with a slight lift through the center of the palm

  • Index finger knuckle mound
  • Pinky finger mound
  • Thumb mound at wrist
  • Outside edge of palm at wrist
  • Fingertip pads press into the mat
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