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 Face Pose, or Gomukhasana, has a similar name to Cow Pose, but the two are entirely different. Cow Face Pose is a twisting sitting pose where the hands are clasped behind the back. Cow Pose is done on all fours with the abdomen hanging low. Cow Face Pose got its name because the twisting legs look like a cow chewing its cud. This pose invites thoughtful contemplation, amidst all that twisting. Note that this pose does require a fair amount of flexibility, so be prepared to warm up or build up to this pose.
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.
Standing Forward Bend, or Uttanasana, is a well known yoga posture and a goal for many people who want to be able to touch their toes. It is normally used in a Sun Salutation sequence following Mountain Pose (Tadasana) at the start of the sequence and repeated again after a Vinyasa. It doesn’t have to be a transitional pose, it can be practiced as a posture in its own right, too. It’s great for relaxing the spine and neck and opening through the back of the legs at the end of your day.
Upward Salute is a simple standing posture usually cued at the start of a Sun Salutation sequence or as part of a breathing exercise. The Sanskrit name literally translates as “raised arms pose” (“Urdhva” meaning upward, “hasta” meaning hand). It’s a great stretch for the whole body, encouraging you to lengthen upwards through fingertips and head while grounding through the feet.
Four Limbed Staff Pose, or Chaturanga Dandasana, is a demanding strength builder. It strengthens the whole upper body, especially the muscles around the arms, shoulders and core. Additionally, this pose channels the hamstrings that work especially hard to keep the body parallel to the mat. At the same time the pose nurtures focus, determination and awareness as it is a powerful Manipura Chakra and Pitta stimulant, embracing its fiery essence.
Upward Facing Dog is a name directly translated from Sanskrit (urdhva meaning up or upwards, mukha meaning face, svana or shvana meaning dog) and is referring to a stretch often observed in dog’s behaviour. In yoga, it’s often used as a deeper progression from Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) and sequenced as part of Sun Salutations.
Chair Pose, or Utkatasana, is a fairly challenging standing yoga pose which tests many different parts of your body at once. Chair pose requires you to balance while building strength in your entire lower half of your body. At the same time, this standing pose builds core strength by the nature of the balance position involved.
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.
Warrior II, or Virabhadrasana II, is a natural continuation in the Warrior series, and can be used in a sequence as well as practised in isolation. It involves the majority of muscle groups and requires a lot of focus to get all the pose elements right.
Eagle Pose, or Garudasana, is a standing twisting pose which tests both your flexibility and your sense of balance. It’s good to practice first with Tree Pose for standing balance as well as various seated twisting poses before combining them together in this standing challenge. The body in this pose resembles an eagle perched high on a mountaintop tree branch.
Legs Up The Wall Pose, or Viparita Krani, is an inversion pose which means it exerts an excellent soothing effect on the nervous system. At the same time, it relaxes the upper body while stretching the quadriceps muscles and preventing vascular problems in the shins, promoting healthy blood flow.