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.
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.
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.
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.
Mountain Pose, or Tadasana, is considered the foundation of all standing poses that offers multiple health benefits, including pain relief from sciatica. It is a great pose for beginners and can be used to transition into other poses. Tadasana can also be done by itself to improve posture and increase strength.
The Plank Pose is perhaps one of the most common poses outside of the yoga field. It is practiced by many people regardless of the type of sports they do. Phalakasana focuses on balancing your body using your arms. It is a great pose to tone your abdominal muscles, stretch the spine, and strengthen the arms. Plank is an essential component of Sun Salutations and is often used as a transitional pose.
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.
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.
The Extended Side Angle Pose, or Utthita Parsvakonasana, is a position which does not only ground you and makes you more aware of your body, but it also strengthens it to its core. Being a strong activator of the Heart Chakra, the pose promotes free thinking, mindfulness and imagination. Naturally, it also gives a great stretch to the hamstrings, quadriceps, psoas as well as the upper body muscles.
Rabbit Pose, or Sasangasana - also known as Hare Pose, is a truly gratifying forward fold yoga pose which puts an emphasis on flexing the spine, preventing pain and tension in the area. At the same time, it also stabilizes the core and the neck as well as stretches other muscles including the biceps and the triceps. Increasing the blood flow to the head, Rabbit Pose is a potent activator of the Crown Chakra and Vata, igniting new ideas and concepts. It is considered a significant intellectual stimulator.
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.
Locust Pose, or Salabhasana, is a backbend of extra strengthening, stretching and mental benefits. First off, it lengthens the spine and the back, alleviating pain and tension in the area and promoting a healthier, more natural posture. At the same time, it strengthens the core as its muscles are needed to hold the balance. Improving the blood circulation in the whole body, the pose improves tissue oxygenation and hence calmness, better mood and mitigation of anxiety.
Bow Pose, or Dhanurasana, is a floor pose which builds flexibility throughout the entire body. It is one of the few poses that creates a full backward stretch in a supported way. In a world where we hunch over computers and phones, this back stretch is a critical counter-balance. The name of the pose comes from the shape of your body.
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.