Hero Pose, or Virasana, is an intermediate yoga pose which focuses on improving the mobility of the knee joints as well as stretching the muscles of the thighs and the spine.
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 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.
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.
Thread the Needle is a simple kneeling pose that provides relief for neck and back tension. It’s considered a variation of Child’s Pose (Balasana) with an added twist and a lift in the hips resembling Puppy Pose (Uttana Svanasana). It can be performed both as a static posture and as a dynamic flow sequence (see modifications).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Standing Split is a combination of a one-legged standing balance and a forward fold. Unlike front splits assisted by gravity, Standing Split is sometimes called True Split because the hip range is solely powered by your muscles.
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.
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.
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.