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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Extended Side Angle Pose, or Utthita Parsvakonasana, is a position which does not only ground you and makes you more aware of your body, but it also strengthens it to its core. Being a strong activator of the Heart Chakra, the pose promotes free thinking, mindfulness and imagination. Naturally, it also gives a great stretch to the hamstrings, quadriceps, psoas as well as the upper body muscles.
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.
Often referred to in class by its Sanskrit name, Malasana, Garland Pose is a deep yogic squat, where the knees and feet are wide enough to accommodate the chest and shoulders. It encourages an opening through the inner thighs, creates a grounding feeling in the feet and hips and improves dorsiflexion range in ankles
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.
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.
Lizard Pose, or Utthan Pristhasana, is a powerful hip opener which also happens to lengthen the leg muscles, especially the hamstrings and the quadriceps. It also tones the glutes well, staying in the leg area. When it comes to the upper body, the pose tones the core, the back and the chest, additionally building strength in the deltoid muscles. Maintaining such balance demands lots of concentration and focus hence the Lizard Pose nurtures great amounts of determination in the practitioner.
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.
Marichi’s Pose, or Marichyasana, is indeed a gracious and elegant pose providing lots of physical as well as mental benefits. First off, it stretches multiple parts of the body, including the legs, the back, the shoulders and the arms. Naturally, to hold this pose, one needs to sharpen their senses and their focus which nurtures awareness and improves concentration. Simultaneously, such an attention shift also has a calming effect on the nervous system.
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.
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.
Sphinx Pose is a variation of a Cobra backbend. In fact, its Sanskrit name translates to Supported Cobra Pose (“Salamba-” meaning with support, “-bhujanga” meaning snake or serpent). It’s a lovely alternative to deeper Cobra variations or Upward Facing Dog Pose for those who don’t want to load their lower spine too much.
Extended Triangle Pose (“Utthita” meaning extended, “tri” meaning three, “kon” meaning angle and “asana” meaning pose), often shortened to Triangle, is a combination of a side bend and twist, that brings the focus on hamstrings, chest and shoulders. It is often practiced as part of a Warrior sequence..
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.
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.
The literal translation of Urdhva Dhanurasana is Upward Bow, referring to Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) but facing in the opposite orientation. Wheel Pose is an intense backbend that requires a lot of strength and control, as well as an ability to press your bodyweight up. Therefore it should only be practiced by intermediate and advanced students, and supervised accordingly when starting out.