Yoga Basics

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Yoga Poses in this Sequence

Easy Pose

Easy Pose

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.

Cat Pose

Cat Pose

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

Cow Pose

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

Thread the Needle Pose

Thread the Needle Pose

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).

Child’s Pose

Child’s 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.

Standing Forward Bend

Standing Forward Bend

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.

Standing Half Forward Bend

Standing Half Forward Bend

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.

Plank Pose

Plank Pose

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.

Cobra Pose

Cobra Pose

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.

Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog

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.

Warrior II

Warrior II

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.

Triangle Pose

Triangle Pose

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..

Extended Side Angle

Extended Side Angle

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.

Chair Pose

Chair Pose

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.

Low Lunge Pose

Low Lunge Pose

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.

Lizard Pose

Lizard Pose

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.

Bound Angle Pose

Bound Angle Pose

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.

Revolved Head to Knee Pose

Revolved Head to Knee Pose

Revolved Head to Knee Pose is an intense seated twist pose that offers even more benefits than a typical standing pose. It was designed to help relieve back pain and is usually performed in the second half of a yoga session after your body has had time to warm up. Regularly practicing this pose will keep your hamstrings and spine stretched, and your mind calm.

Seated Head to Knee Forward Bend

Seated Head to Knee Forward Bend

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

Bridge Pose

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.

Legs Up the Wall Pose

Legs Up the Wall Pose

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.

Happy Baby Pose

Happy Baby Pose

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.

Corpse Pose

Corpse Pose

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.

Alyssa Macon

Alyssa Macon is a mom (and dog mom) in Nashville, TN who started practicing yoga in 2013. Like a lot of people, she came to yoga for the physical aspects simply wanting to stay in shape. Over time, she realized that the asana may bring us to yoga but it’s usually not what keeps us here.

After her 30th birthday, she felt like she was in a weird place…  just not herself. She knew that something needed to change so she decided to be consistent in her yoga and meditation practice. When she did, all of the other aspects of yoga showed up. She’s more content than before. She developed a kinder relationship with her mind and body. She found herself surrounded with the love and the sense of community that yo...