Bridge Pose, or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, is a standard part of many yoga routines. It’s one of those poses which is strengthening but relaxing, invigorating but serene. Your body forms the bridge here, creating an arch. You can add different variations including one leg up and clasping your hands beneath your body to make this pose more challenging.
Cat Pose, or Marjaryasana, is one of the most commonly recognized yoga poses. The shape of the body resembles a stretching, arching cat. This pose is usually done as a partner to Cow Pose, as Cat Pose has the back high while Cow Pose has the back low.
Child’s Pose, or Balasana, is a wonderfully relaxing pose which is part of most yoga routines as a moment to pause. Child’s Pose is about releasing yourself to the world and trusting that everything will be alright. It is a moment to simply breathe. The name comes from the relaxed sleep of a contented child.
Cobra Pose, or Bhujangasana, is a floor pose which gently stretches and flexes the body. Its head-up position is reminiscent of a cobra rising up off the ground. It brings flexibility and strength.
Corpse Pose, or Savasana, is one of the simplest poses in the entire yoga repertoire. You simply lie on your back. But within that is a wealth of power. Interestingly, while many yoga teachers love to use Western names for most poses as they are easier to remember, many also use the Sanskrit name Savasana for this particular pose because they find the name “Corpse Pose” to be off-putting for Western audiences. The pose’s alternate name, Mrtasana, means “Death Pose” which is not much better. So Savasana it is.
Cow Pose, or Bitlasana, is a floor pose which is traditionally paired with Cat Pose. They are the mirrors of each other. Cow Pose shouldn’t be confused with Cow Face Pose. In Cow Face Pose, the legs and arms are all twisted together. In Cow Pose, you are simply on your hands and knees, your dangling abdomen representing the udder of a cow
Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, is one of the most recognizable yoga positions out there. It’s featured on countless magazine covers and yoga posters. This triangular form represents so much of what yoga has to offer. It’s accessible to most people. It brings calm and stress relief. It strengthens muscles. It builds flexibility. The pose name comes from the stretch that just about every dog lover has seen a thousand times.
The Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, or Ardha Matsyendrasana, offers a great spinal twist while massaging the abdominal organs, improving their function. It actively lengthens the tailbone, stretches the hips and engages the muscles of the core and the back at the same time. Demanding great balance, it also brings peace to the mind and has a soothing effect on the nervous system.
Head-to-Knee Forward Bend Pose, or Janu Sirsasana, is a pose great for all of the yoga practitioners as even if it is performed only to some degree, it can be worked on while it brings the same amount of benefits. It stretches practically the entire body, starting from the neck, ending at the muscles of the shin. It increases the stability of the spine and the lower back, improving its flexibility and preventing stiffness. Last but not least, it fantastically relieves the anxiety symptoms as well as induces the feeling of inner harmony and balance.
Intense Side Stretch Pose, or Parsvottanasana, is a beautiful balancing, stretching as well as strengthening pose. It demands awareness and synchronized breathing from the practitioner so it also serves as a wonderful calming practice. It is great whenever one needs a deep, whole body stretch with an emphasis put on the hamstrings and the core.
Sphinx Pose is a variation of a Cobra backbend. In fact, its Sanskrit name translates to Supported Cobra Pose (“Salamba-” meaning with support, “-bhujanga” meaning snake or serpent). It’s a lovely alternative to deeper Cobra variations or Upward Facing Dog Pose for those who don’t want to load their lower spine too much.
While yoga is founded in peace, the name of this pose commemorates a spiritual warrior - someone strong, brave and not stepping down in the face of adversity. Warrior I is recognised as one of the foundational poses, practiced regularly in most yoga disciplines.
The literal translation of Urdhva Dhanurasana is Upward Bow, referring to Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) but facing in the opposite orientation. Wheel Pose is an intense backbend that requires a lot of strength and control, as well as an ability to press your bodyweight up. Therefore it should only be practiced by intermediate and advanced students, and supervised accordingly when starting out.