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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cobra Pose, or Bhujangasana, is a floor pose which gently stretches and flexes the body. Its head-up position is reminiscent of a cobra rising up off the ground. It brings flexibility and strength.
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.
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.
The Low Lunge Pose, or Anjaneyasana, is a backbend which positively affects practically the entire body. It opens the hips and stretches the muscles of almost every body area: the legs, the back, the core, the shoulders and the arms. It demands well-developed balance and focus hence trains one’s consciousness and awareness. Furthermore, being a Pitta and Manipura Chakra stimulant, it energizes and motivates to take action.
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.
As beautiful and delicate as it seems from afar, the Gate Pose, or Parighasana, makes the body look just as lean and sublime. Not being an advanced pose, it can offer its benefits even to beginner yoga practitioners: the pose gracefully stretches and lengthens the muscles of the legs, the spine and the shoulders. As much as it opens our chest and makes us reach up, it gives us intent, clarity of thought and self - belief.
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.