Easy Pose, or Sukhasana, is a pose often taught to children as a way for them to sit quietly on the floor. It is also known as “Simple Cross-Legged Pose.” In places without chairs, this would be how adults sat all the time as well. In our modern world, it’s good to practice Easy Pose several times a day to undo the damage brought by sitting at desks all day.
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
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.
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.
This pose, otherwise known as a Half Lift, is often included in a sun salutation sequence between a Standing Forward Bend and stepping back into Plank or Chaturanga. It’s usually performed on a breath in, as a chance to lengthen through the spine while staying folded.
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.
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.
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.
One-Legged Downward Dog, or Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (mouthful. I know), is described as a purely American invention in an ancient Indian tradition. It is a great pose to challenge your balance while keeping an asymmetrical posture. By maintaining the balance, using your arms and extending your leg, you will actively strengthen the arm muscles and stretch your hip flexors. After a little practice, your balance will significantly improve and you’ll find yourself in a calmer mood.
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.
Half Pigeon Pose, or Ardha Kapotasana, is a very potent hip opener for anyone to try. It also stretches the leg muscles including the quadriceps, the hamstrings and the psoas. At the same time, it lengthens the spine and stimulates the Heart Chakra which gives satisfaction to its practitioner. Furthermore, it is refreshing as the whole stretch is relaxing and satisfying for the body and soul.
Boat Pose, or Paripurna Navasana, is a great pose for building balance while drawing in your full concentration. As you hold the position, you will strengthen every part of your core. A fairly strenuous pose, beginners will need to work on their balance before moving on to deeper variations.
Bound Angle Pose, or Baddha Konasana, is a seated asana which nurtures relaxation and serenity. It stretches the inner thighs, hips and legs. There is no twisting or turning, balancing or struggling in this pose, it is about quiet peace and contemplation. This pose is also known as Cobbler’s Pose as shoemakers in India would sit this way while working.
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.
Paschima is a Sanskrit term for the back of the whole body from head to heels, Paschimottanasana is therefore an intense stretch of the back of the body. It is achieved with a forward fold at the hip joint lengthening the legs and the crown of your head in the same direction. This gravity assisted fold is a wonderful opportunity to relax and unwind after a long day.
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.
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.
Supported Shoulderstand is a fairly accessible yet challenging inversion that brings the weight into the shoulders, neck and the back of the head. It creates a flexion movement in the upper spine while simultaneously firming and strengthening the lower part of the body.
The Happy Baby Pose, or Ananda Balasana is a wonderful opportunity to give your back a proper, deep massage it has always needed. It relaxes the whole body and has a positive calming effect, reducing stress and anxiety. At the same time, muscles of the main body parts are being actively stretched and engaged.
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.