For about 90% of us doing yoga, the most difficult yoga postures are not in the typical routine. Many of them require strength, flexibility, balance, and care so you can avoid injuring yourself. The following postures are not for the faint at heart and should only be attempted the first time in the presence of a qualified yoga instructor.

Contents

Handstand Scorpion

This is one of the most difficult yoga postures if not the most difficult one. The handstand scorpion pose requires you to have good balance, plenty of strength and extreme flexibility.

For those of you first attempting this pose, use a wall for assistance that is about a foot away. Once you’re in a handstand, arch your back and touch the wall with your toes. Slowly move your feet down towards your head while continuing to arch your back to help you stay balanced. The object is to have your feet just above your head.

Once in position, you should hold it so 5 to 6 breaths then slowly move your legs back up to the straight position and place your feet on the ground. This pose improves your balance while strengthening your shoulders, abdominals and back muscles. Sanskrit name for this posture is Taraksvasana. You don’t need a yoga mat for this one but you may want it to give yourself some padding when you return to the floor.

The Side Plank

The side plank doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult. But appearances can be deceiving and this one of the most difficult yoga postures for a beginner. This pose requires strength, flexibility, and balance.

Place one hand and the side of one foot on the floor and the opposing arm and leg that should be next to the body until you have mastered your balance of this posture.

For beginners, the elbow can be used instead of the hand on the floor. For those of you with weak wrists, the elbow option is recommended. Your hips should be raised so your body is in a straight line from your foot to your shoulders.

After you’ve mastered your balance, the opposing arm and leg can be stretched upwards. Your shoulders should be drawn back to help keep your chest in alignment as you move your arm and leg upwards. The position of your head should be looking toward the wall in front of you or the ceiling.

It may be a good idea to first attempt this posture next to a wall to assist in balance. You should do this posture on both sides of your body and match the time holding it for each side.

When you do this yoga posture you will be strengthening your glutes, abdominals, and obliques. The average time this posture is held is near two minutes. The Sanskrit name for this posture is Vasisthasana.

The Plow

The plow posture (Halasana) is another deceiving pose that helps to relax a practitioner when accomplished correctly. At first lay on your back then slowly raise your hips until your back is perpendicular to the floor with your head and eyes looking up.

With your legs extended, you should slowly move them over your head until your toes touch the floor with your back remaining perpendicular to the floor. Your arms can be positioned on your back for support or extended outwards in the opposite direction of your legs.

At first, most yogis can’t safely touch the floor with their toes. For safety reasons, a chair should be placed close so your toes can be situated on the seat of the chair instead of the floor.

This posture requires flexibility and you should always move into the position slowly.

No muscles are stressed in this pose because it’s used to help calm and relax you. When in position this pose should be held for about 5 minutes.

The Tripod Headstand with Lotus Legs

The tripod headstand (Sirsasana Ii Padmasana) with lotus legs looks simple but it’s one of the most difficult yoga postures to get correct and should only be attempted by advanced yoga practitioners. The first step is to practice the lotus legs before attempting to do it inverted with a headstand.

First, you sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Take your right foot and place it on top of your left thigh. Next, take your left foot and place it on your right thigh. You should get into this position slowly because when you’re inverted, any sudden movement can cause you to lose your balance.

The next step is to do a headstand. At first, you should have your hand on the floor to help keep you balanced with your legs straight up in the air. Slowly move your right foot to its place on top of your left thigh. Take your left foot and place it on your right thigh.

Once you’re in a loose lotus, snuggle your legs so they fit closer into position. When you have a tight lotus leg then slowly move the knees in front of you with the bottom of your legs parallel to the floor. At first, only hold this position for approximately 8 breathes.

This difficult yoga posture requires practice to master. To help at first, do the headstand near a wall to help with the balance when moving the legs into position.

The muscle groups that will benefit from this pose include arms, shoulders, abdominals, hips, and neck.

Yoga Sleep Pose

The yoga sleep pose (yoganidrasana) is only for practitioners that are extremely flexible. When accomplished you look like you’re tied like a pretzel. Some yoga practitioners even sleep in this pose which is how it got its name. But, let’s be honest, you need to be pretty hardcore to sleep like that.

Here’s how you do it: First lay on your back, then cross your legs at the ankles and bring your knees to your chest. Slowly move your ankles over your head so they can make contact with the back of your head. If flexibility permits it, move your arms through your thighs and body.

When getting into position, breathing can be difficult. Once in this position, your body will relax and breathing becomes easier.

The biggest benefit of this difficult yoga posture is the full stretching of the spine and associated muscles. This posture will also improve your circulation, reduce your stress, reduces symptoms of menopause and aligns the spine.

Formidable Face Pose

The formable face pose (Gandha Bherundasana) is another one of the most difficult yoga postures that makes you look like a pretzel and is only recommended for advanced yoga practitioners. This pose requires extreme flexibility, balance, and some strength.

To begin you should be on your hands and knees or in the tabletop position. Take your left leg and lift it up while lowering your chin to the floor. Have your hands flat on the floor as far back as you can. Lift your other leg up in a vertical position while keeping your chest on the floor.

The main part of your weight should now be on your shoulders. Slowly bring your legs over the front edge. For those attempting this for the first time use a chair for your feet to rest on which is situated just in front of you.

The aim is to have your feet flat on the ground with your back fully arched. This position should only be held for 3 to 6 breaths. This pose strength’s your shoulders and thighs, stretching your abdominal muscles while increasing your circulation.

Eight Angle Pose

The eight angle pose (Astavakrasana) is for those of you with arm strength, very good balance and why this is considered one of the most difficult yoga postures to do.

Be seated on the floor with your legs open. Place the palm of your right hand between your legs with the left hand on the outside of your left thigh on the floor. Take your right leg and straighten it out to your right side. Take your left leg and move it in front of your right hand, straighten it out and cross your legs at the ankle to the right side.

The last move is where strength is required. While keeping your balance do a pushup with all the weight being on your arms. This position should be held for at least 45 seconds to a minute if possible. The left side should then be done.

The benefits are for your arm, shoulder and abdominal muscles while improving your balance.

The Corpse Pose

While by its appearance the corpse pose (Shavasana) looks like the easiest, but for many, it is the most difficult yoga posture. This is a very common pose done at the end of a yoga session, but many don’t actually know the correct way to perform the pose.

Yoga not only shapes your body but also your mind. The objective is to release all worries and thoughts while relaxing your entire body. The legs should be slightly spread with your arms at your sides and the palms of your hands up.

With your body totally relaxed, your mind has to be cleared of all thoughts, especially any conflicts in your life. The best way to achieve this pose is not to think. On average it is recommended to stay in this pose for 5 minutes for every 30-minute yoga session you have just completed.

Another thing most practitioners get wrong is how they get up. You should roll to one side with your head still on the mat and breathe several times. Your head should be the last part of your body touching the floor before you sit up.

This pose will relax and rejuvenate your entire being.

One-Handed Tree Pose

The one-handed tree pose (Eka Hasta Vrksasanav) is a challenge for even those yoga practitioners that have great balance and strength. The other obstacle is the ability to control both of those variables while inverted.

The first step is the ability to do a 2 handed handstand. Once in that position, you must spread your legs. As you slowing lift one of your hands off the mat, you use your legs to help balance yourself. You should have your shoulders over the hand that is the support on the mat.

This difficult yoga posture develops the wrist and elbows in terms of stability control while strengthening the arm and abdominal muscles. Once your mind is clear, your breathing will be in a relaxed state.

Destroyer of the Universe

The destroyer of the universe pose (ala Bhairavasana) looks difficult to do, but that is deceiving. You should have flexibility in your hips and have the balance and strength to do a side plank. To hold this pose requires a strong mental focus.

To get into this pose, you need to be in the one-arm plank. The next step is to have both feet on the ground and take the lower one and place it behind your head.

Some beginners place their leg behind their head then roll over and lift themselves into the side plank pose. Once in position lift your free arm towards the ceiling while also looking upwards.

This posture develops the abdominal and arm muscles while increasing the flexibility of the hips and hamstring.

Conclusion

These are some of the most difficult yoga postures that practitioners have to deal with in their quest to be an advanced yoga master. Take caution when attempting them for the first time. If your body is not prepared to be contorted or ultra-flexible, you could injure yourself. It’s vital you move into each position slowly so you can assess how you’re feeling as you move through the pose and stop if you need to.

The Only 30 Yoga Poses You Really Need to Know

12. Plank Pose

Sanskrit: Kumbhakasana

How to do it

Start in Downward-Facing Dog. Shift forward so your shoulders are stacked over your wrists. Draw your navel in toward your spine and keep your hips from dropping.

Reach heels back as you lengthen the crown of your head forward. Ground down into hands, pushing the floor away beneath you. Lengthen through the arms and broaden your chest.

Pro tip: Come down to your knees if the pose is too intense.

The benefits

Considered one of the best moves for core strength, Plank Pose strengthens your abdominals and promotes stability.

13. Four-Limbed Staff Pose

From Plank Pose, shift forward onto your tippy toes. Ground through your palms and broaden across the chest. Take an inhale.

On an exhale, bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle. Keep your thighs lifted toward the ceiling. Imagine stretching your tailbone toward your heels as you lengthen through the spine. Hold your elbows in line with the torso. Gaze forward.

To come out of the pose, release your knees to the ground. You can also keep your knees lifted and lower down onto your stomach for an extra ab challenge. Another option is to lift up and back to a Downward-Facing Dog and relax.

Chaturanga is a key part of sun salutations, which you’ll find in Hatha, Sivananda, Ashtanga, and Vinyasa yoga classes. It promotes core stability and strengthens your abdominals and triceps.

14. Upward-Facing Dog

Sanskrit: Urdhva mukha svanasana

Lie facedown on the floor. Bend elbows and place hands on the mat in line with lower ribs. Hug your elbows in line with your torso. Tuck your toes and take an inhale.

As you exhale, push the floor away like a push-up. Straighten your arms and broaden across the chest, hovering your hips a few inches above the floor at the same time.

Pro tip: If you have any low back pain or a spine injury, modify this pose. Keep your feet on the mat, point your toes, and press the tops of your feet down into the floor.

As you bend your elbows and push up, keep your hips on the ground and roll your shoulders down the back. Straighten as much as possible through the arms and focus on elongating the spine. If you feel any pain or compression, slowly lower down onto your stomach.

You’ll open up your chest and shoulders, while stretching the abdominals and hip flexors. This pose comes after chaturanga in a classic sun salutation.

15. Half Moon Pose

Sanskrit: Ardha chandrasana

Start in a Triangle Pose. Bend your front knee, keep it in line with your second toe. Step back foot in and walk front hand about 12 inches forward. Keep it on the floor or place it onto a block.

Shift your weight onto your front foot and lift your back foot off the ground. Straighten out the front leg, keeping your front hand on the floor or on a block.

Reach your back leg toward the wall behind you, foot flexed. Lift your back arm up toward the sky. Keep your gaze on the hand touching the ground.

To come out of the pose, bend the front leg and slowly lower the lifted leg down toward the floor.

Pro tip: To challenge your balance while you’re in the pose, gaze up at your top hand.

This balancing pose strengthens your legs and outer hips. It also stretches your hamstrings and inner thighs, and promotes concentration.

16. Warrior I

Sanskrit: Virabhadrasana I

How to do it

Start in Downward-Facing Dog. Step one foot forward between your hands. Turn your back foot out, approximately 45 degrees, and ground down into your back foot.

Line your feet up heel to heel, or slightly wider. Bend the front knee directly over the front ankle while you straighten your back leg. Draw your back heel down toward the floor.

On an inhale, lengthen through the spine and lift your arms up. Place your hands on your hips or lift them up in a V toward the ceiling. Rotate your torso toward the front of the room.

Pro tip: If it’s challenging to balance in this pose, widen your stance. Imagine standing on railroad tracks rather than skis.

This energizing pose strengthens your legs, arms, and back muscles. It also gives your chest, shoulders, neck, thighs, and ankles a nice stretch.

17. Warrior III

Sanskrit: Virabhadrasana III

From Warrior I, hinge forward at the hips. Rest your abdomen on your front thigh. Step the back foot in and shift your weight into your front foot.

On an inhale, lift your back leg off the ground, straighten through the leg, and reach through your back heel. Press your palms together in front of your sternum (prayer hands) and gaze forward.

You can also place your arms along the hips, outstretched in front of you like you’re flying, or on the floor underneath your shoulders.

This heating pose strengthens your legs, outer hips, and upper back. It also helps improve balance and posture.

18. Intense side stretch

Sanskrit: Parsvottanasana

Start in Mountain Pose. Step your left foot back and place it flat on the floor at a 45-degree angle. Ground down into both feet and lift up through the thighs.

Place your hands on your hips. Rotate your torso forward. Hinge at the hips and lengthen your spine over the front leg. Lift away from the floor and broaden across the chest.

Pro tip: If it’s accessible to you, join your palms to touch behind your upper back. For tight shoulders, grab opposite elbows behind your back.

The pose helps calm the mind and stretches your spine, shoulders, wrists, hips, and hamstrings.

19. Dolphin Pose

Sanskrit: Ardha pincha mayurasana

From all fours, come down onto your forearms. Spread your fingers wide and keep elbows shoulder-width apart.

On an inhale, tuck your toes and lift your hips up and back like you’re in Downward-Facing Dog. Allow your head to hang above the floor.

Ground down into your forearms and lift your upper body away from the floor. Press your heels down toward the mat for a nice hamstring stretch.

This pose helps build strength in your upper body in preparation for a headstand and forearm stand. It can also help calm your mind and relieve stress.

20. Bow Pose

Sanskrit: Dhanurasana

Lie facedown, roll your shoulder blades down the back, and send your arms back behind you. Bend your knees so that your feet are near your butt.

On an inhale, lift your upper body and legs off the floor, keeping the hips grounded. Reach back to grab outer ankles. Use the leverage to lift your body up and broaden across the chest.

This backbend stretches the whole front of the body, especially the chest and the front of your shoulders. It also gives a nice massage to your abdominal organs.

21. Camel Pose

Sanskrit: Ustrasana

Kneel on the ground with your shins hip-width apart. Press the tops of your feet into the mat. Rest hands on your hips, thumbs near your lower back.

Take an inhale and press down into your shins. Elongate through the spine. On an exhale, reach your arms back toward your heels. Use the leverage to lift your chest up toward the sky and get a nice shoulder stretch.

Pro tip: Place your hand on two blocks or curl your toes under so you don’t have to reach as far.

This backbend stretches the entire front of your body, from your throat to your ankles, and even helps strengthen back muscles.

22. Side plank

Sanskrit: Vasisthasana

Start in Downward-Facing Dog. Turn onto the outer edge of your right foot, making sure that your right foot and right hand are in alignment.

Stack your left foot on top of your right. Lengthen through the spine through the crown of your head. Once you’re stable, lift your left hand up toward the sky. Press the floor away from you with the bottom hand.

Pro tip:For an added challenge, lift your top foot off the grounded foot. If it helps, imagine you’re a starfish.

This pose strengthens your shoulders, upper back, and abdominals. It also promotes core and scapular stability, which is helpful if you’re working on inversions or arm balances.

23. Revolved Triangle Pose

Sanskrit: Parivrtta trikonasana

From mountain pose, step your left foot back and place it flat on the floor, turned out 45 degrees. Line your feet up heel to heel, or wider for more stability and space.

Ground down into both feet and lift up through your thighs. Hinge forward at the hips and lengthen spine over your front thigh.

Release your left hand to a block placed on the outer edge of your front foot. You can also place the block on the inside of the front foot. Rotate your torso to the right. Stretch your right arm up.

This balancing posture stretches your hamstrings and outer hips. Twisting promotes the overall health of the spine and engages your abdominal obliques to facilitate the twist.

100 Perfect Poses For A Peak Pose Themed Yoga Class (Updated Feb 2018)

Pick a pose from the Yoga Asana List below and turn it into a peak pose themed lesson plan.

Arm Balances

Arm pressure Balance
Crane Pose
Inclined Plane
Inclined Plane Variations
One Hand Over Arm Balance
Firefly Balance
One Legged Sage Balance
Peacock Pose

Backbends

Bow Pose
Bridge Pose
Camel Pose
Cobra Pose
Crescent Moon
Crocodile Pose
East Stretch
Gheranda
Fish
Frog Pose
Inverted Staff
Lotus
Royal Pigeon
Pigeon Pose
Spinx
Upward Facing Dog
Upward Facing Bow

Bandhas

Abdominal Lock
Chin Lock
Mula Bandha
Root Lock
The Great Lock
Uddiyana Bandha

Breathing Exercises

Alternate Nostril
Bellows Breath
Equal Breath
Humming Bee Breath
Warming Breath

Kriyas

Abdominal Churning
Candle Gazing
Saline Nasal Irrigation

Inversions

Downward Facing Dog
Full Arm Balance
Hare
Headstand
Plough
Shoulderstand
Tripod

Mudras

Adhi Mudra
Bhairava Mudra
Brahma Mudra
Chin Mudra
Chinmaya Mudra
Dhyani Mudra
Sanmukhi Mudra
Prayer Seal

Relaxation within Your Yoga Practice

Child Pose
Corpse
Crocodile Pose
Embryo
Restful Deep Forward Fold
Restful Double Leg Forward Stretch

Seated & Floor Postures

Bound Lotus
Child Pose
Cobbler
Cow
Cow Face Forward Fold
Downward Facing Dog
Double Leg Forward Stretch
Double Toe Hold
Easy Seated
Extended Child
Fetus In The Womb
Four Limbed Staff Pose
Garland
Gate
Half Bound Lotus Forward Bend
Head Beyond The Knee
Hero
Heron
Lion Pose
Lotus
Monkey God
One Leg Forward Bend
Perfect Pose
Plank Pose
Reclining Hand To Toe
Revolved Head To Knee
Sage Forward Bend A
Sage Pose B
Seated Staff
Seated Angle
Seated Side Stretch
Toe Stretching Head Beyond The Knee Pose
Toe Stretching Forward Bend
Tortoise Pose
Yogic Sleep

Standing Postures

Chair Pose
Dancer Pose
Deep Fold Forward Bend
Eagle Pose
Forward Releasing Forward Fold
Half Bound Lotus Stretch
Half Lotus Toe Balance
Half Moon Pose
Mountain Pose
One Legged Garland Pose
Revolved Half Moon Pose
Revolved Side Angle Stretch
Revolved Triangle Pose
Standing Half Bow Balance
Standing Side Stretch
Standing Splits
Single Leg Forward Bend
Single Leg Swan Balance
Tree Pose
Triangle Pose
Warrior Pose I
Warrior Pose II
Warrior Pose III
Wide leg Forward Bend
Upright Big Toe Sequence

Twists & Ab Toners

Boat Pose
Bound Sage Pose
Double Leg Raisers
Extended Leg Fish
Half Bound Lotus Twist
Half Lotus Heron
Noose
Pendant
Revolved Abdomen Pose
Revolved Chair Pose
Revolved Easy
Scales
Seated Gate
Sage Twist
Seated Half Spinal Twist
Spinal Twist In Half Lotus
Twisting Forward Stretch

Peak Pose Yoga Sequences

Peak Pose Yoga Sequences

Peak refers to the identification of a single pose or posture at either the Intermediate Level or at the Advance Level. A peak pose sequence helps in performing the target pose in a safe, structured and systematic flow. This is important to avoid any injury to the body, to perform the pose to the best of an individual’s ability, and to get the most benefit from the pose.

The peak pose sequences given here towards any particular peak pose are sequence guides for yoga teachers to plan their own yoga sequences based on the kind of peak pose they want to target – whether it is a back bend, forward bend, balancing pose, etc. or a combination of these.

Please click on the sequence title to view the complete peak pose yoga sequence with detailed overview and cues.


  • 1. Peak Pose Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence for Hanumanasana


  • 2. Peak Pose Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence for Urdhva Dhanurasana and Sirsasana


  • 3. Peak Pose Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence: Throat (Vishuddha) Chakra Yoga Sequence With Savasana


  • 4. Peak Pose Yoga – Ashtanga Closing Sequence


  • 5. Peak Pose Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence: Yoga Sequence For Balance With Warrior Pose


  • 6. Peak Pose Yoga – Core Strength Yoga Sequence: Hip Opening Yoga Sequence


  • 7. Peak Pose Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence: Core Yoga Sequence With Samanasana


  • 8. Peak Pose Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence for Crow Pose and Crane Pose

  • 9. Peak Pose Yoga – Ardha Chandrasana Sequence

  • 10. Peak Pose Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence for Baby Crow Yoga

  • 11. Peak Pose Yoga – Yoga For Tight Hamstrings (Uttanasana As Peak Pose)

  • 12. Peak Pose Yoga – Yoga Sequence for Cold and Allergies

  • 13. Peak Pose Yoga – Vinyasa yoga flow sequence : Peak Pose – Archer Pose -Standing and Seated poses

  • 14. Peak Pose Yoga – Chinese New Year Yoga Sequence : Yang Yoga Sequence – The Year of DOG -2018!

  • 15. Peak Pose Yoga – Camel Pose Yoga Sequence: Throat Chakra Yoga Sequence with Camel Pose Variations

  • 16. Peak Pose Yoga – Dancer Pose Yoga Sequence: Yoga Sequence for Balance

  • 17. Peak Pose Yoga – Vinyasa Yoga Sequence: Peak Pose Yoga Sequence – Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

  • 18. Peak Pose Yoga – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana: Power Yoga Sequence for One-Legged King Pigeon Pose

  • 19. Peak Pose Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence: Beginner Yoga Sequence

  • 20. Peak Pose Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence for Marichyasana B

  • 21. Peak Pose Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence for Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

  • 22. Peak Pose Yoga – Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana for Balance and Energy

  • 23. Peak Pose Yoga – Yoga Sequence For Core Strength: Seated Twist Pose With Baby Grasshopper Pose

  • 24. Peak Pose Yoga – Peak Pose Yoga Sequence for Bharadvajasana

  • 25. Peak Pose Yoga – Yoga Handstand Progression: Peak Pose Vinyasa Yoga Sequence Towards Adho Mukha Vrksasana

  • 26. Peak Pose Yoga – Peak Pose Sequence: Vinyasa Flow Peak Pose For Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana D

Thousands of people get certified to teach yoga each day. The good news is, even though the market is saturated in some areas, we all internalize, interpret and ultimately deliver what we’ve learned differently.

Therefore, no two yoga classes you’ll take will ever be the same.

As yoga instructors, we are constantly challenged with coming up with new sequences and content to stand out in the crowded landscape. This can be exhausting. It takes continual practice, patience, and refinement week over week.

To create a yoga sequence is to create a work of art. It’s not easily accomplished on a whim. The approach you take is crucial to the success of your class. Selecting each element with thoughtful and mindful consideration is a great place to start. Sharing this masterpiece is one of the greatest gifts of teaching… It has the ability to change people’s lives!

But even with this incredible opportunity, come the unique challenges of sequencing.

The purpose of this article is to educate you on how to intelligently sequence a yoga class. This article is directed towards yoga sequences for teachers, but yoga students looking for inspiration in their home practice will also benefit.

I will show you my tried and tested formula on how to sequence a yoga class. I’ll provide posture and transition examples, and you will learn more ideas to layer on top of a linear sequence. You’ll walk away able to easily integrate what you’ve learned into your own class all in a safe and effective manner.

Whew.

Are you ready to dive in? Good. Me too. 🙂

Pin me 🙂 Then keep reading!

General tips for sequencing yoga classes

The Basics Are The Bomb

Don’t overdo it. Beginner and seasoned practitioners alike can benefit from returning to the foundation of the practice. If you’re a newer teacher, just focus on a beginner yoga class sequence.

Practice Your Sequence

This ensures that what you are delivering to your students is conveying what you want them to experience physically and mentally. It will also give you more confidence teaching.

Assess Your Students

Do you have an idea of the type of student attending your class? i.e. elderly, athletes, recovering addicts, etc.? Knowing this information can help guide what direction to take your sequence.

Practice with your playlist

If you teach with music, be sure to have your music on while practicing. Subtle cues in the music will help you know if you need to speed up, slow down, or just savor the moment. I recommend learning how create the perfect yoga playlist, it’s a powerful way to impact your students.

Consider a theme

High level themes for your classes can help guide your sequence. Here are 25+ theme ideas to guide your next class.

Alright let’s get into it…

How to Create a Yoga Sequence

If you’re wondering how to build a yoga sequence, here’s my go to method. Most yoga sequences are linear, meaning one posture follows another in a sequential manner. Linear classes are taught in a logical way starting with less challenging, moving to more challenging and returning to less challenging before savasana.

When I sequence, I typically start with a linear formula and layer on from there. This is just one way to sequence a yoga class. I’ll walk you through this way today.

My Anatomy Of A Yoga Class

The sections in my basic vinyasa yoga sequence are:

Grounding (5-10 minutes)

This is where we drop into the practice and start class. Some people call this a yoga class opening sequence. Essentially, your goal is to create a space to invite in presence and acute awareness of breath and body. Some instructors guide a short meditation or breath work.

Recommended Grounding Postures:

  • Child’s Pose (Extended, Traditional)
  • Seated Pose (Sukasana, Hero’s Pose)
  • Supine Pose (Savasana, Reclined Bound Angle)

Warm Up/Integration (10-15 minutes)

After getting grounded on our mats, it’s important to physically warm up our body for more vigorous postures to come.

Recommended integration postures:

  • Cat/Cow Variations
  • Gentle Core Work (Swimmers, modified side plank)
  • Seated Lateral Bends
  • Seated Gentle Twists
  • Thread the Needle

Sun/Moon Salutations (15 minutes)

Introduce sun or moon salutations and link each movement with breath.

Sun Salutations are the most common way to start a yoga practice because they are heating and stimulating. This posture combination stretches and strengthens all major muscle groups.

Moon Salutations are cooling and quieting. Choose Moon Salutations if you’re leading a slower flow.

Recommended Sun/Moon Salutation Postures:

  • Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
  • Forward Fold
  • Vinyasa (if you’re leading a vinyasa flow sequence)
  • Downdog

Standing & Balancing Postures (20 minutes)

Once you complete salutations, your students are ready to be on their feet moving in a more active way. Now is a great time to come up with series that include warriors, lunges and other standing postures. Mix in balancing postures into the flow, or leave them separate.

Recommended Standing/Balancing Postures:

  • Warrior 1, 2, 3
  • Crescent Lunge
  • Wide Legged Forward Fold
  • Tree Pose
  • Eagle Pose

Seated Yoga Sequence / Supine (10-15 minutes)

Time to begin to slow the body back down. Since the body is super warm, hold deeper stretches and spend more time in each posture. These postures will begin to cool the body down, preparing for savasana.

Recommended Seated Postures:

  • Seated Spinal Twist
  • ½ Pigeon Pose
  • Seated Forward Fold
  • Bridge/Wheel Pose
  • Supine Twists
  • Happy Baby
  • Supta Badha Konasana/Reclined Bound Angle Pose

Savasana (10 minutes or more)

Final resting posture. You may offer to invite back in their intention for class or read a quote related to your theme. Otherwise, silence is golden to allow space for their own experience.

Example Types Of Classes & Yoga Sequence Ideas

Choose one or all of these things to use as you work through creating a yoga sequence. An intelligent class is not simply a sequence of yoga asanas, consider breathwork, themes, dharma, etc.

This is not an exhaustive list, but rather one to get you inspired. If you teach a vinyasa style class, just know there are endless yoga flow sequence ideas… Ranging from a power vinyasa to a slow flow vinyasa yoga sequence.

Breathwork (Pranayama)

Pranayama, or breath work, is the foundation of any yoga practice. Starting class with a short breathing exercise will allow your students to cultivate awareness and presence in their body and mind.

You can remind your students throughout the entire class to return to their breath. This added layer of pranayama, will assist them with being more present.

Lion’s Breath, Alternate Nostril breathing, Sama Vritti, Kapalabhati, and Ujjayi are just some of the styles of pranayama you can include at any point during your sequence. I enjoy adding Lion’s Breath during Star Pose, and Kapalabhati during Hero’s Pose.

Beginner yoga sequence for teachers

Just because you enjoy complicated yoga sequences in your personal practice doesn’t mean you should attempt to teach this way. Most students enjoy and benefit from more straight forward sequences where they can focus on the present moment instead of trying to keep up.

A beginners yoga class sequence might include fewer postures repeated more frequently. Build the sequence in a way that lets your student intuitively move from one position to the next.

If you’re looking for ideas, most bigger yoga studios have beginner yoga sequences that rarely change. Take a few beginner classes around town for inspiration.

Pro tip: a yoga sequence for beginners (with options to modify) allows the teacher to focus more on the space their holding, giving dharma, and adjusting students.

Theme

Before you build a sequence and select postures, choose a theme. Select one theme to center your class around. This can be a quote, a word, a part of the body, etc. Consider your theme the ultimate masterpiece your sequencing artwork. This will help create a general focus for your class. Every posture and transition should embody the theme in some way.

How you deliver the theme is as important as the theme itself. Just as in asana practice, deliver your message with balance and integrity. It can be easy to overdo it, so be sure to pick certain places throughout the sequence to drop nuggets of your themed wisdom. I recommend at the very least, 3 times: beginning, middle and end.

By having a clear and simple theme, both you and your students will be able to practice with purpose and intention.

Select An Apex Pose or Set of Postures

Most yoga classes have an apex pose, or a peak posture that the class builds upon from the beginning. To do this safely, ensure you choose postures during integration that warm up and strengthen the body in preparation for the apex pose. The apex pose is the most challenging posture of the class.

If you don’t want to select one apex pose to work towards, another idea is choosing postures that open up a specific part of the body. i.e.: hips, shoulders, hamstrings, heart.

Tip: Integrate your theme into the postures. For example, if you’re theming your class around self-love, a natural selection of postures would include heart openers.

Energizing or Relaxing Class Sequence?

Each yoga posture can elicit different energetic effects in your students. Are you teaching a power vinyasa class or a slow flow yoga sequence?

As a general rule, moving the spine forward (think backbends) or inverting, are generally more stimulating. Flexing the spine towards forward bending (think folds and hip flexion) are more relaxing. Whereas twisting can be considering balancing.

If you’re going for a relaxing class, add a longer seated yoga sequence.

Lastly, even changing the order of postures in a class will deliver a different effect on your students. Take this into consideration as you teach targeted classes for students with various injuries or mental and emotional states.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How should I prepare a corporate yoga sequence?

First, consider your students. From my experience, most will be beginners and they’ll be taking a break from work which means the class has to be quick. If you want to keep your students coming back, make sure it’s fun, beginner friendly, and keep the woo woo to a minimum.

I can just picture a bunch of accountants (no offense) that get scared away from yoga because the teacher talked in Sanskrit 90% of the time while delivering astrological readings and “tuning everyone’s chakras.” In other words, keep it basic. Maybe even consider using chairs as props if you don’t have a dedicated studio space or much time.

Should I write down my sequences?

Short answer is: yes. Practicing with a written yoga sequence is a great idea when you’re first developing a sequence or if you’re a newer teacher.

Protip: Keep a notebook with all your yoga sequences and some notes about them. This way you can refer back to older classes which saves time when you need to map out a new class. What was that cool mandala class I thought for the summer solstice in 2014?!

Parting Words: Practice! Practice! Practice!

An easy yoga sequence to teach is one you’ve practiced. Get to know how each of the postures and transitions feel in your own body. You’ll quickly begin to realize where you can adjust your sequence to flow more fluidly. If you have a yogi friend you trust, practice the sequence on them so you can try different cues to get them in and out of postures. Practice as much as you can – you will feel so much better feeling prepared.

Lastly, don’t put so much pressure on yourself. There are benefits to repeating sequences so no need to create a new one for every single class. Just be yourself, there is no best yoga sequence anyways 🙂

What am I missing? What tips can you offer for building a yoga sequence? Do you have any yoga class sequence ideas to add?

The 10 Most Important Yoga Poses for Beginners

If you are brand new to yoga, there are certain postures that are essential for you to learn so you can feel comfortable in a class or practicing on your own at home.

It’s not easy to narrow everything down since there are over 300 positions in the physical yoga practice(asana), but these poses can start you off on the right path. If you do each one of these for 5-10 breaths, it also creates a great beginner’s yoga program for you to do every day.

Here are my picks for the 10 most important yoga poses for beginners. Note: You don’t have to be able to do all these poses exactly as pictured — ALWAYS listen to your body and modify if needed.

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1. Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose is the base for all standing poses; it gives you a sense of how to ground in to your feet and feel the earth below you. Mountain pose may seem like “simply standing,” but there is a ton going on.

How to do it: Start standing with your feet together. Press down through all ten toes as you spread them open. Engage your quadriceps to lift your kneecaps and lift up through the inner thighs. Draw your abdominals in and up as you lift your chest and press the tops of the shoulders down.

Feel your shoulder blades coming towards each other and open your chest; but keep your palms facing inwards towards the body. Imagine a string drawing the crown of the head up to the ceiling and breathe deeply in to the torso. Hold for 5-8 breaths.

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2. Downward Facing Dog

Downward Dog is used in most yoga practices and yoga classes and it stretches and strengthens the entire body. I always say, “a down dog a day keeps the doctor away.”

How to do it: Come on to all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Tuck under your toes and lift your hips up off the floor as you draw them up at back towards your heels.

Keep your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight, otherwise try and straighten out your legs while keeping your hips back. Walk your hands forward to give yourself more length if you need to.

Press firmly through your palms and rotate the inner elbows towards each other. Hollow out the abdominals and keep engaging your legs to keep the torso moving back towards the thighs. Hold for 5-8 breaths before dropping back to hands and knees to rest.

3. Plank

Plank teaches us how to balance on our hands while using the entire body to support us. It is a great way to strengthen the abdominals, and learn to use the breath to help us stay in a challenging pose.

How to do it: From all fours, tuck under your toes and lift your legs up off the mat. Slide your heels back enough until you feel you are one straight line of energy from your head to your feet.

Engage the lower abdominals, draw the shoulders down and away from the ears, pull your ribs together and breathe deeply for 8-10 breaths.

4. Triangle

Triangle is a wonderful standing posture to stretch the sides of the waist, open up the lungs, strengthen the legs and tone the entire body.

How to do it: Start standing with your feet one leg’s-length apart. Open and stretch your arms to the sides at shoulder height. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and your left toes in about 45 degrees.

Engage your quadriceps and abdominals as you hinge to the side over your right leg. Place your right hand down on your ankle, shin or knee (or a block if you have one) and lift your left arm up to the ceiling.

Turn your gaze up to the top hand and hold for 5-8 breaths. Lift up to stand and repeat on the opposite side. Tip: I like to imagine I’m stuck between two narrow walls when I’m in triangle pose.

5. Tree

Tree is an awesome standing balance for beginners to work on to gain focus and clarity, and learn to breathe while standing and keeping the body balanced on one foot.

How to do it: Start with your feet together and place your right foot on your inner left upper thigh. Press your hands in prayer and find a spot in front of you that you can hold in a steady gaze.

Hold and breathe for 8-10 breaths then switch sides. Make sure you don’t lean in to the standing leg and keep your abdominals engaged and shoulders relaxed.

6. Warrior 1

Warrior poses are essential for building strength and stamina in a yoga practice. They give us confidence and stretch the hips and thighs while building strength in the entire lower body and core.

Warrior 1 is a gentle backbend; and a great pose for stretching open the front body (quads, hip flexors, psoas) while strengthening the legs, hips, buttocks, core and upper body.

How to do it: For warrior one, you can take a giant step back with your left foot coming towards a lunge, then turn your left heel down and angle your left toes forward 75 degrees.

Lift your chest and press your palms up overhead. Step forward and repeat on the opposite leg.

7. Warrior 2

Warrior 2 is an external hip opener and opens up the inner thighs and groin. It’s a good starting point for many side postures including triangle, extended angle and half moon balance.

How to do it: Stand with your feet one leg’s-length apart. Turn your right toes out 90 degrees and your left toes in 45 degrees. Bend your right knee until it is directly over your right ankle while keeping the torso even between the hips.

Stretch your arms out to your sides and gaze over your right hand. Hold for 8-10 breaths before straightening the right leg and turning your feet to the other side to repeat on left side.

8. Seated Forward Bend

It’s important to incorporate a forward bend in yoga practice to stretch the hamstrings, lower and upper back and sides. Seated forward bend is the perfect fold for everyone to start to open up the body and learn to breathe through uncomfortable positions.

If you feel any sharp pain, you need to back off; but if you feel the tension when you fold forward and you can continue to breathe, you will slowly start to loosen up and let go. You can also keep your knees bent in the pose as long as the feet stay flexed and together.

How to do it: Start seated with your legs together, feet firmly flexed and not turning in or out, and your hands by your hips. Lift your chest and start to hinge forward from your waist. Engage your lower abdominals and imagine your belly button moving towards the top of your thighs.

Once you hit your maximum, stop and breathe for 8-10 breaths. Make sure your shoulders, head and neck are all released.

9. Bridge Pose

A counter pose to a forward bend is a back bend. Bridge is a good beginner’s back bend that stretches the front body and strengthens the back body.

How to do it: Lie down on your back and place your feet hip width apart. Press firmly on to your feet and lift your butt up off the mat. Interlace your hands together and press the fists down to the floor as you open up your chest even more.

Imagine dragging your heels on the mat towards your shoulders to engage your hamstrings. Hold for 8-10 breaths then lower your hips down and repeat two more times.

10. Child’s Pose

Every one needs a good resting pose and Child’s pose is an awesome one not just for beginners but for yoga practitioners of all levels.

It’s good to learn child’s pose to use when you’re fatigued in Down Dog, before bed at night to work out the kinks, or anytime you need a mental break and stress/tension relief.

How to do it: Start on all fours then bring your knees and feet together as you sit your butt back to your heels and stretch your arms forward. Lower your forehead to the floor (or block or pillow or blanket) and let your entire body release. Hold for as long as you wish!

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Essential Yoga Poses for Beginners

When you’re just starting to try yoga, you may be tempted to leap right into the most visually impressive postures and try to impress your friends with scorpion pose or wounded peacock pose. However, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re only going to hurt yourself.

There are yoga poses for beginners for a reason – you need to build up strength, flexibility, and balance while learning the fundamentals of the practice. Once you have mastered these beginner yoga poses, you can slowly work your way up to the more advanced ones.

In this post, we will go through some of the best yoga poses for beginners. We’re going to take a slightly different tack here. Instead of focusing on how to perform each pose, we will go through pointers for each to ensure that you are getting it right.

Our advice is to sign up for a class so that you can learn the perfect technique from the start. If classes are not an option, we’d recommend looking for a good DVD or online video instead. It’s difficult to make sure that you are getting the pose right just by looking at pictures online.

Choose a class or video that offers a comprehensive beginner yoga sequence made up of some basic yoga poses.

Types of Poses

Standing Yoga Poses

These poses require the most work, and so you are bound to find them the hardest. Most classes will start with some standing yoga poses for beginners to help you limber up. Depending on the style that you are learning, you might do several long sequences in a row.

Balancing Poses

Balance is one of the most important aspects if you want to build core strength. You’ll need to have a strong core to perform some of the more challenging poses. Again, these are difficult initially but become much easier with practice.

These are more challenging and might feel uncomfortable. There is also a possibility of hurting yourself if you don’t get the form right and are not warmed up for the backbends. Having an instructor is highly recommended here – you can learn without risking injury.

Seated Poses

These are stretches that you’ll perform from a seated position. This is normally done once you’ve warmed up well or towards the end of the session. If you find any of them uncomfortable, trying folding a towel into quarters or using a block. Place these under your neck, lower back, or other locations to help improve your comfort.

Supine or Resting Poses

Resting postures don’t get all the press that the more popular ones, like Downward Facing Dog, do, but they’re important yoga poses for beginners. These postures can be used to help relax the muscles. If you feel you need a break, these will allow you to continue passively stretching your muscles.

Beginner Yoga Poses

As you try each of these poses, go slow and listen to your body. You should feel a pleasant stretch but stop immediately if you feel pain.

Mountain Pose

Another standing posture, this is another essential one to learn. Here the proper alignment is crucial. You should imagine a string holding your body in a straight line. This should extend from the top of your head to your heels. You’ll need to tuck in the pelvis and check your shoulders. Focus on keeping the weight on your heels and make sure that your shoulders are relaxed and not rounded.

Warrior I

There is only one main tip to remember with this standing posture: you must keep your hips facing forward. Line up the hips so that they are parallel to the front of the mat. You might need to place your feet wider apart to make this happen.

Warrior II

This standing posture is completely different from the previous one. In this case, you are going to point your hips to the side. You’ll usually move from Warrior I into this one. You’ll need to keep your shoulders and hips limber and open to your side.

You’ll have to rotate your rear foot so that your toes are out at a 45-degree angle. With both poses, bend at the knee and ensure that your thigh is parallel to the floor.

Extended Side Angle

To keep your shoulders open here, you can place your forearm against the thigh instead of putting your hand on the floor. Getting this correct is essential, or you won’t be able to keep your torso in the right position.

Triangle Pose

This is a slightly more difficult yoga pose for beginners. If you’re not able to touch the floor, put a yoga block there and aim for that instead. You can safely rest your hand against your leg as long as you don’t put it on your knee. If you’re finding that it is still difficult, you can bend slightly at the knees to help ease the pressure on the hamstrings.

Cat-Cow Stretch

This is the first of the backbend poses that we’ll be dealing with. You’ll get to stretch and then flex the spine. This helps to improve mobility and keep the spinal column properly aligned. If you battle with back pain, this is a good pose to learn.

Staff Pose

This seated pose is similar in function to the mountain pose. If you’re finding the standing poses too difficult, this makes a good alternative. If you find that you can’t sit directly on the floor, fold your towel into quarters and sit on that. Normally this posture will be followed by a forward bend.

Cobbler’s Pose

This is another one that is seated. You can let gravity do a lot of the work for you here. This is a brilliant option if you want to stretch your inner thighs. Again, if you don’t find it easy to go all the way to the floor, a block or towel can be useful.

Remember to concentrate on the stretch. This means keeping the knees down a little and making sure your legs are relaxed. You could put a block or towel under each knee so that they’re supported. That way, the focus is on the stretch.

Child’s Pose

This resting pose should be one of the first yoga poses for beginners that you learn. If you’re feeling tired during class, adopt this pose. That way, you can get the break that you need without letting your muscles cool down too much. Just start up with the class again as soon as you feel able.

Bridge Pose

This is one of the gentler backbends. It’s good for offsetting the negative effects of sitting all day. It will keep your spine supple and help you maintain better posture.

Cobra Pose

This is usually performed a few times during a session. You can vary the depth of this backbend posture to help improve your workout. You can do the full cobra to stretch the back completely or build strength using a low cobra.

A low cobra is simply the cobra pose without pushing up with your hands. Whichever way you choose to proceed, make sure that your pelvis is properly anchored before lifting your shoulders.

Corpse Pose

This is a supine or resting pose that’s usually the final pose of the class. It helps the body to cool down and move out of exercise mode.

Easy Pose

If you’re worried about sitting cross-legged, this pose might seem intimidating. You can, however, use props to make you more comfortable here. This is a great option for those who have to sit behind a desk all day.

Garland Pose

Unless you’re something of a gym bunny, squatting is not something that you’ll often do. This is a pity because it is very helpful when it comes to opening up the hips and stretching the pelvic muscles. Oddly enough, it is also good for your feet.

Half Forward Bend

This will often be incorporated into a sun salutation sequence. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because it’s a beneficial stretch. It’s bad because most people rush through the sun salutation.

Considering practicing this on its own at home. If you want to be sure that you are in the right position, check a mirror. It might also be helpful to make sure that your hands are not in touch with the ground at all. It will also help to lift your knees as high as you can – you need your back to be as flat as a board.

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

We’re just going to say it – this one’s fun to learn just for the name. Jokes aside, this is a type of twist that will improve the mobility of your spine. It’s also great for toning the digestive tract. If you battle with constipation, this is a good one to practice.

Some people find that bending a leg behind them is uncomfortable. If this is the case for you, you can stretch your leg out instead.

Happy Baby Pose

The name says it all. This is another option that’s used to close off a session. You do want to exert some effort here in bringing your feet towards your armpits so that you get a great stretch. You don’t want to go overboard, though. Your tailbone should always be on the ground.

Head to Knee Pose

If you have a job where you’re seated all day, your hamstrings are probably tight. This can make this pose harder. If you want to make things a little simpler, try stretching one leg and then the other instead of both together.

Low Lunge

When lunging, you must focus on proper alignment. Your knee should be directly above your ankle, not ahead of it and not behind it. Your thigh should be parallel to the floor. It’s also important to make sure that your hips are level. This helps to keep the back leg engaged.

Plank Pose

This is all about improving your core strength. It’s a balancing option that will help you to improve your overall practice. It helps to improve stability and stamina at the same time.

Pyramid Pose

This is another one where a block can come in handy. Put one block on each side of your foot so that reaching the floor easier. You’ll still get a great stretch but won’t strain as much.

Raised Hands Pose

This is an extension of the mountain pose. With this pose, you increase the stretch in your arms. It’s a great warm-up move.

Seated Forward Bend

It seems that we’ve focused a lot of our attention on hamstring stretches. This is because the hamstrings suffer the most when it comes to a sedentary lifestyle. This posture will help you give your hamstrings a good stretch while also keeping your back limber.

Seated Wide Angle Straddle

This gives a different type of stretch for the inner thighs. Most people assume that the goal is to get your chest to touch the floor. While you may be able to do this eventually, it’s not realistic for a beginner.

Focus instead on getting the motion correct. Your back must be flat, and you should bend from the pelvis instead of the spine. Keep your feet flexed at all times. As long as you do the pose correctly, it makes no difference how far forward you can bend.

Supine Spinal Twist

This is another passive twist that is often used to close off a session. That said, you can just as easily use it in the beginning as in the end. You can choose the position that best suits you when it comes to your legs. Bend both of them, or straighten one and grab hold of your foot.

Alternatively, as you start getting more advanced, you can twist both legs so that the outer hips get a full stretch.

Wrapping It Up

That should give you more than enough postures to practice yoga at home for beginners. Remember at all times that it’s a lot more important to get the posture right than to push yourself to stretch too fast. Take your time – yoga is complex. Once you get the basics down, though, you’ll never look back.

We all know what it’s like to feel knotted up in our hearts because we are holding blame and resentment toward others, shaming ourselves for past actions, or armoring ourselves against the inevitable pain of heartbreak. Humans will go to great extremes to avoid pain, but uncomfortable feelings can be fertile ground for transformation and real growth. This practice invokes the power of Tara, the Hindu goddess of compassion, to help you face the discomfort and reap the rewards. It gently opens the hips, hamstrings, and heart; in so doing, it helps us tap into the elixir of forgiveness and self-compassion that begins to flow unrestricted within as we start to dissolve the walls of hardness and separation caused by our resentment, guilt, and fear. This work can be difficult, but it is worth every bit of our effort. After all, it’s not until we can forgive ourselves and others that we are able to experience true liberation.

See also Find Your Inner Goddess with Sianna Sherman

Crescent Pose

Indudalasana Seated, with Chin Mudra 

Sit in a comfortable position, bring your hands to Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal: hands to prayer at the heart), and offer an intention for your practice to help you with forgiveness. Inhale to lengthen your spine. Exhale and lean to the left, placing your left hand to your mat, beside your left hip. Extend your right arm overhead in a graceful way with Chin Mudra (index finger and thumb connected to make the energy seal of consciousness). Inhale back to center, exhale, and repeat on the right side. Follow the rhythm of your breath as you sway side to side for several breaths. Visualize yourself as the flow of forgiveness in the tidal rhythm of Ujjayi Pranayama (Victorious Breath or Ocean Breath).

See also Goddess Yoga Project: Shed Light On Your Dark Side

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7 Unique Poses to Take Your Yogi Game to the Next Level

Dave and Les Jacobs/Getty Images

Downward dog, warrior, bridge—if you’ve taken a yoga class or two, you’re probably well aware of most instructors’ go-to poses. While there’s nothing wrong with a standard Vinyasa flow, it’s fun to change up your practice from time to time, and really put your balance, strength, and agility to the test.

“I love going off the beaten path with yoga,” says Lauren Porat, yoga instructor and founder of YogaSpark. “I like to incorporate more core activation and glute work, as well as funky transitions that no one sees coming.” She finds that switching up her students’ practice is not only a great physical challenge, but also a mental one. Rather than flowing from one pose to the next on autopilot, Porat says learning a new variation forces her students to really pay attention to her instruction and focus on their bodies—which also means they’re tuning out the outside world along with their own mental chatter.

Plus, Porat says, “Trying new things is incredibly empowering—and my clients end up carrying this strength, peace and confidence with them off the mat.” So whether you’re looking to change up your routine, challenge your coordination, or maybe even rock a cool new pose for an Instagram photo (hey, we’re not judging!), here are seven of Lauren’s favorite unique poses.

Misty warrior

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At first glance, this pose may look just like warrior two. But there’s a catch: It’s done en pointe (which is why it’s named after Misty Copeland). Once you’ve raised onto your toes and found balance, squeeze your heels and thighs toward each other, while stretching your arms apart and relaxing your shoulders away from ears. This variation on standard warrior two will help better tone your inner thighs, calves, helping you get one step closer to a dancer’s bod.

RELATED: 25-Minute Core-Strengthening Vinyasa Flow

Knee to chest from high lunge

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From a standard high lunge position, engage your core and draw your back knee into your chest. Step back to high lunge with control, keeping your core engaged the entire time, and repeat. The addition of the knee raise adds some extra core work to your practice, and also helps improve functional movement in your hips.

Open hip standing split pulse

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In most Vinyasa classes, standing split is a stationary move. But for this glute-strengthening version, open up your hip, and flex your raised foot. Then, isolate the outer butt cheek, and pulse the heel up 10 times while activating your glute muscles. Release to forward fold and repeat on the other side.

RELATED: This Invigorating Yoga Flow Is the Best Way to Get Energized

One-legged bridge lifts

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Begin in a traditional bridge pose, with both feet planted on the floor and hips raised. Then lift your right leg up, while keeping the thighs parallel. Pretend you’re squeezing a block in between your thighs to create resistance, but keep the thighs inner-hip-distance apart. Lower your butt an inch above the mat, and squeeze your left butt cheek to lift your hips back up. It may seem simple, but removing support from one leg in this pose will really sculpt and tone your glutes.

Warrior 3 crunches

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Start in warrior 3, balancing on one leg with the other outstretched behind you. Then bend the standing knee slightly and crunch both your arms and raised leg in towards your torso. Expand back to warrior 3, and repeat five times. This pose challenges your balance, coordination, and core strength.

RELATED: Try This 15-Minute Yoga Flow for Stress Relief

Kundalini’s descent with a twist

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Bend your right knee a few inches down and cross the left knee outside your right. Bring your hands in prayer at heart center and hook your left elbow outside the right knee. To deepen the pose, squeeze your thighs together, engage your core by lifting your torso an inch off your thigh, and try to bring your left heel to your butt.

Goddess variations

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From a wide-leg goddess stance, raise one or both heels off the mat and pulse your butt an inch down and then up, for a fun yet effective glute-toner. Or for another variation, place your hands behind your neck and work your obliques by crunching from side to side. Just be sure to keep your back flat the entire time.

What is the hardest yoga pose?

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