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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Staff pose, or Dandasana (“Danda-” meaning staff, “-asana” meaning pose), is an upright seated position that allows for the opening of the hamstrings, while simultaneously strengthening the back muscles. With modifications, it is accessible to complete beginners and people with mobility issues.
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).
Tree Pose, or Vrikshasana, is a one-legged standing balance. It’s suitable for practitioners of all levels due to its many available variations, and is often the first balance to be taught to complete beginners.
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.
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.