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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.