top 10 yoga poses
If you were only to practise 10 yoga poses for the rest of your life, which would they be? These are our top 10 yoga poses, for physical, mental and emotional benefits.
Mountain Pose or TadasanaWhat it is: A simple standing posture, with the feet together or hip-width apart and firmly grounded, the leg muscles and lower abdominal muscles engaged and the spine elongated.
Why we love it: This is the ultimate posture for teaching awareness of how you stand and hold your body. Practising Mountain Pose strengthens the muscles which support a healthy posture. It cultivates stillness and steadiness. Standing in Mountain Pose is also surprisingly challenging for your balance - try closing your eyes and noticing all the micro-adjustments your body automatically makes just to keep yourself upright.
Downwards Facing Dog Pose or Adho Mukha Svanasana What it is: An inverted v-shaped posture, with the hands and feet grounded, and the upper body elongated so there is one straight line of energy running from the hands up the arms, through the spine and to the tailbone. The knees can be slightly bent if the hamstrings are tight, and the heels reach towards the floor.
Why we love it: Downward Facing Dog provides a powerful stretch for the whole of the back of the body and legs. It builds strength in the arms and shoulders, and helps to cultivate greater awareness of your body position. It also provides a gentle inversion, as the head is below the heart, increasing blood flow to the brain and relieving fatigue.
Child’s Pose or Balasana What it is: A simple, resting posture, where the sit bones rest on the heels and the body folds forward over or between the thighs, with the forehead coming to rest on the ground. The arms can be outstretched in front of the body, or resting by the sides.
Why we love it: It’s hard not to love Child’s Pose. As a forward bend, it soothes the body and mind, without tugging on the hamstrings as many forward folds do. It gently stretches and releases the muscles of the legs and back, and creates space between the vertebrae of the spine. It is a fantastic resting posture to take whenever your yoga practice, or life in general is getting too much.
Warrior 2 or Virabhadrasana II What it is: A powerful standing posture. The front leg bends and the back leg is straight, with both feet firmly grounded. The hips open to the side while the front knee tracks over the toes. The spine is long, and the arms extend out from the shoulders, with the gaze along the front middle finger.
Why we love it: This is a posture for cultivating warrior-like focus and power. It builds strength in the muscles of the legs, while opening the hips. Warrior 2 symbolises taking aim, so it can be a great posture to help you to sharpen your awareness and achieve your goals. Try visualising whatever it is you want resting on the end of your middle finger as you take aim in Warrior 2.
Triangle Pose or TrikonasanaWhat it is: A standing posture which incorporates hip-opening, stretching, and a twist. Both legs remain straight, the body extends over the front leg, and the front arms reaches down for the floor, the foot or a block, while the back arm extends to the sky, twisting the torso open and upwards.
Why we love it: Triangle Pose is fantastic for strengthening and stretching the sides of the body. It is a heart opening posture, so it can help you to feel more alive, invigorated and loving. It also builds strength in the muscles of the legs, the core and the arms.
Tree Pose or VrksasanaWhat it is: A standing balance posture where one foot remains grounded, and the other leg lifts and bends, placing the sole of the foot on the inner ankle, calf or thigh of the standing leg. The knee is turned out and the hips face the front. The hands can be in front of the heart, in prayer position, or lifted over the head.
Why we love it: As a balancing posture, Tree Pose builds proprioception, body awareness and focus. It can be challenging, and as such is good for teaching a more relaxed and playful approach to yoga, without too much attachment to the final posture. It opens the hips, engages the core and strengthens the muscles in the standing leg, ankle and foot.
Crow Pose or BakasanaWhat it is: An arm-balancing posture, which builds the foundation of strength and body awareness for practising more advanced arm balances. From a squat position, the hands are grounded and the knees are lifted to the back of the upper arms or the armpit area. The body weight is shifted forwards until the feet can lift, and eventually the arms may straighten too.
Why we love it: Crow Pose strengthens the wrists, arms, shoulders and core in order to lift the body and legs. It teaches an understanding of the mechanics of arm balances, and is a fun posture to play with.
Bridge Pose or Setu Bandha SarvangasanaWhat it is: A supine backbend, where the feet are brought in close to the body, with the knees bent. As the feet press into the ground, the hips and body lift, with the spine moving into a backbend. The hands can be brought together under the body with the fingers interlaced, and the arms pressing into the ground to provide extra extension for the back.
Why we love it: As a backbend, Bridge Pose stretches the front of the body, the chest and the abdominal muscles. It is a great way to release these muscles after core-strengthening work or forward bends. It is an invigorating and heart-opening posture, which expands the ribcage, increasing the breathing capacity.
Pigeon Pose or Eka Pada RajakapotasanaWhat it is: A deep hip-opening posture where the front leg is bent with the shin coming towards parallel to the front of the mat. The other leg extends straight back. The body can be held upright, or folded forwards over the front leg.
Why we love it: Pigeon Pose provides a powerful stretch for the gluteal muscles and the outer hip of the bent leg, as well as a hip flexor release for the straight leg. It is very good for anyone suffering from lower back pain and sciatica, as these areas are likely to be tight. It is a good posture for teaching surrender, and the idea of letting go into the posture.
Corpse Pose or Savasana What it is: That lovely lying down pose that you get to do once the hard work of class is over. Corpse Pose is where you lie on your back, with the feet hip width or wider, ankles rolling out. The hands are slightly away from the body with the palms facing up.
Why we love it: Corpse Pose is the ultimate posture for relaxing, and allowing your body to absorb all the benefits of the yoga practice. It gives you chance to reconnect with your body, mind and breath, before you continue with the rest of your day.
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Top 10 Yoga Poses Infogaphic | PDF download
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