Try These 25 Yoga Poses to Help You Get Fit
05th June, 2019
Netflix shutterstock.com
With 5,000 years of ancient philosophy, yoga has prevailed in India as the key to lock negativity, impurities, and physical and mental stress. The knowledge of asanas was then shared with believers from distant lands so that people could learn about the benefits to channel positive energy. This is why we would like to pay it forward with 25 popular yoga asanas. It may be challenging at first, but it sure is fun to learn for a healthier living.
Chair pose (Utkatasana) shutterstock.com
01
Chair pose (Utkatasana)
"Utkata" means fierce in Sanskrit, while "asana" means pose. Put both these words together, and you create the fierce pose. Contrary to its name, the chair pose is not practiced to be fierce. Utkatasana, however, helps you feel the tension build up in your leg muscles, toning them to perfection. The pose also helps strengthen the hip flexors, calve muscles, ankles, and upper back. Yoga experts find that such a pose helps reduce the symptoms of flat feet. It also stimulates the heart, diaphragm, and abdominal organs, making you fit. Just so you know, the chair pose stimulates the body muscles quite a bit, so maybe skip practicing it before bed and save the warm-up for a cold winter day.
Mountain pose (Tadasana) shutterstock.com
02
Mountain pose (Tadasana)
Ever wondered why yogis stand in one position, swaying at intervals? Well, while it may look like the person is at a standstill, Tadasana or the mountain pose is the foundation for any standing yoga posture or inversions, like a handstand or headstand. To execute the pose, start placing your feet together and arms at your sides. Gradually move your feet, ankles, knees, and hands one at a time. This helps you draw energy from the earth and channel it through your body. A correctly executed asana can help reduce back pain and strengthen the knees, thighs, ankles, abdomen, and the buttocks. However, we recommend not practicing this pose if you have a headache, low blood pressure, or even insomnia.
Downward-facing dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana) shutterstock.com
03
Downward-facing dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This downward-facing dog pose is one that imitates a dog's posture. Although it may seem peculiar, this pose calms down the nervous system and relieves stress. The pose stretches out the hamstrings, calves, spine, and other muscles. So don’t go overboard, as your body may not be used to the vigorous motions. It is also advised to not stay in the same position for too long, especially if you have hypertension or a growing headache. This pose has a positive impact on the digestive system, relieves back pains, and helps relieve the painful symptoms of menopause for women. Another tip, while practicing the downward-dog pose, focus on the details in your breathing patterns before, during, and after entering the pose.
Warrior II pose (Virabhadrasana) shutterstock.com
04
Warrior II pose (Virabhadrasana)
The name Virabhadrasana comes from a pose struck by an incarnation of Shiva, also known as Virabhadra, who drew his sword to behead his enemy. While the pose might have a violent origin story, its practice empowers students to balance physical effort with ease by keeping their spirit gentle, calm, and non-violent. The pose helps strengthen the shoulders, arms, thighs, and legs while also expanding the chest, lungs, and shoulders. This yoga posture not only improves physical balance but helps increase concentration, mental focus, endurance. It is believed that it also builds mental stamina. You could chant the phrase "So Ham" that translates to "I am," which, when repeated over and over again, can create a calming effect during Virabhadrasana.
Triangle pose (Trikonasana) shutterstock.com
05
Triangle pose (Trikonasana)
The triangle pose, if practiced accurately, improves body posture from your head to the tips of your toes. You can start by stretching your legs a few feet apart and raising your arms parallel to the ground. Later, balance your right hand on the floor and stretch your left hand to the sky while lining your shoulder tops. Hold the position for about a minute before you inhale and release your posture. You can then repeat the position; however, the second time stretch your right hand to the sky. As a beginner, you can always practice this pose against a wall for additional support or with a yoga partner. This pose is popularly practiced at many yoga classes all around.
Tree pose (Vrikshasana) shutterstock.com
06
Tree pose (Vrikshasana)
The name Vrikshasana or tree pose comes from the myth of Sita, who sat beside trees in the forest while in captivity. The pose resembles a tree as it lives for a long time silently in one place through the night and day. Vrikshasana begins with both feet placed firmly on the ground, then bending your leg, placing the sole on the inner left leg near the knee. After this, stretch both your hands toward the sky and keep them straight, parallel to each other but away from the ears. Now, sway with the soft wind obstructing external distractions from your inner peace. This pose helps increase concentration, improves physical balance, frees the hips, strengthens the legs, and relieves sciatica.
Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) shutterstock.com
07
Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
The bridge pose naturally got its name as it resembles the structure of a bridge. Make sure you have an empty stomach before you try this yoga pose and practice it during the day or in the evenings rather than at night. The bridge pose opens up the shoulders, chest, and heart as well as stretches out the hip flexors, spine, thighs, and the back of your neck. Moreover, the pose helps stimulate the thyroid glands and regulates metabolism. However, considering the posture can stress the neck and stomach, if you are a beginner, pregnant, or face back and neck problems, do consult a trained yoga expert or doctor before trying this yoga position, as it could have serious repercussions.
Corpse pose (Shavasana) shutterstock.com
08
Corpse pose (Shavasana)
While it may refer to something without life or look easy, the corpse pose is considered as one of the most difficult asanas to master. You cannot simply decide to relax by lying on the floor. It takes a great level of concentration and gradual movement to reach a state of extreme zen. However, once you have aced this yogic pose, you will notice an improvement in your blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, muscle tension, and metabolic rate. You will also find a significant reduction in headaches, fatigue, nervous tension, anxiety, and panic attacks. The practice of lying down still as a corpse is said to help you connect with your innermost self and enhance your body, mind, and spirit.
Bound angle pose (Baddha Konasana) shutterstock.com
09
Bound angle pose (Baddha Konasana)
Sometimes known as the "cobbler’s pose" because of the way Indian cobblers sit to repair footwear, the asana stretches the groins, inner thighs, knees, and hips. It can further improve blood circulation through the body and reduce menstrual discomfort. This pose is particularly beneficial for pregnant women. The bound angle pose includes placing the soles of your feet against each other with your knees open to either side. Then, sit upright to straighten your spine; this is believed to calm the mind and reduce stress, mild depression, and anxiety. The asana further helps open up the hips and gain flexibility. However, while experimenting with the pose, as tempting as it may be, do not flap your knees like a butterfly.
Four-limbed staff pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) shutterstock.com
10
Four-limbed staff pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)
A lot of people struggle to get this asana right in an attempt to improve their muscular engagement. But once you do get it right, Chaturanga Dandasanacan works wonders for your physical conditions. Although it may be quite strenuous at first, with time, it strengthens your back, arms, and legs to support yourself. You can also have a partner help you learn to anchor the pelvis and lengthen the spine while trying out the four-limbed staff pose. A key player of the sun salutation (Surya Namaskar), this pose helps strengthen the arms, wrists, tone the abdomen, and develop core stability. A few other poses to help you prepare for this asana are the plank pose, Bhujangasana, and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.
Half moon pose (Ardha Chandrasana) shutterstock.com
11
Half moon pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
The solar and lunar energies are referred to as "Ha" and "Tha," representing the two energies in the human body, yielding the art of Hatha yoga. The moon has great symbolic value, creating the half moon pose. While Ardha Chandrasana aims at channeling lunar energy through the body, it is used as a therapy to treat anxiety, backache, gastritis, indigestion, osteoporosis, and constipation. It may first be difficult to touch the floor with your lower hand while resting the fingertips but, with enough practice, you will get the hang of this pose. If you have neck problems, do not turn your head to look up. The asana is not recommended if you have headaches, low blood pressure, diarrhea, and insomnia.
Upward-facing dog pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) shutterstock.com
12
Upward-facing dog pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
While the English translation of the pose may remind you of a cute pup staring right at you, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana is of the most powerful asanas. It is full of energy that awakens the upper-body strength, further stretching the chest and abdomen. It is a common pose that is a part of the Vinyasa Flow, making it important to get it right to avoid injuries. To prepare for the upward-facing dog pose, you must start with Bhujangasana, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, and later follow-up with backbends, Tadasana, and Virasana. The pose helps improve posture, strengthen the spine, relieve fatigue, and sciatica. You can partner up with a fellow yoga enthusiast to learn how to lift the chest in this pose.
Intense side stretch pose (Parsvottanasana) shutterstock.com
13
Intense side stretch pose (Parsvottanasana)
The intense side stretch pose, also known as the pyramid pose, helps open up your outer hips and hamstrings while also straightening the spine. Mastering the pose may require a combination of flexibility and strength, but getting it right does take a load of patience and time. The pose can be practiced with the use of props like walls or a block. If you ace the asana, you earn yourself a ton of physical benefits, such as stronger leg muscles, better digestive stimulation, overall body balance, a calm mind, improved nervous system, and an enhanced mental focus. Practice the pose for about 30 seconds at a stretch before you rise back up, then resume the process on the other side.
Bow pose (Dhanurasana) shutterstock.com
14
Bow pose (Dhanurasana)
Shaped to look like an archer’s bow, the body of the bow is represented by the torso and legs while the string of the bow is played by the arms. The bow pose has several therapeutic applications to conditions such as constipation, respiratory ailments, mild backache, fatigue, anxiety, and menstrual discomfort. As a first-timer, if you find it tedious to lift your thighs off the floor, you could slightly boost your legs upwards by lying down with your thighs supported on a rolled-up blanket or pillow. Dhanurasana helps stretch the entire front of the body, groin, thighs, abdomen, throat, and chest. As a beginner, don’t be disheartened if you roll over while attempting the pose for the first few times.
Camel pose (Ustrasana) shutterstock.com
15
Camel pose (Ustrasana)
The camel pose is also called the "heart-opening" yoga pose as it balances both the fourth and fifth chakras in the body. It prepares yogis for a much deeper backbend associated with vinyasa, a transition between poses. Practicing Ustrasana helps relieve neck and back pain caused by slouching in front of a computer for hours or driving at a stretch. The extreme stretch benefits the respiratory system, creating space in the chest and lungs, improving the ability to breathe easily. It also has certain therapeutic applications in mild backache, anxiety, menstrual discomfort, and fatigue. If you face difficulties while trying the asana alone, a partner can help you work with your neck and head while giving the pose a go.
Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana) shutterstock.com
16
Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)
A lot of people avoid the handstand as they fear falling flat on their backs (yup, that would be painful). So, to start with, as someone trying it for the first time, you could always place your heels against a wall for that extra body balance. Adho Mukha Vrkshasana helps build confidence, increases focus, strengthens the upper body, and also reverses the effect of gravity on your spine. Other benefits are that it stretches the belly, calms the brain, and helps relieve mild depression and stress. Who knows, if you are ever at one of those dance battle clubs, mastering the handstand could help you attract a lot of attention. Let’s just term it as a social benefit for everyone.
Crow pose (Bakasana) shutterstock.com
17
Crow pose (Bakasana)
This is also known as the crane pose. Many beginners who try the crow pose accidentally lift their posteriors away from the heels. However, what you need to do is keep yourself tucked in tight with the buttocks and heels close by. Once you are prepared to lift your feet off the ground, push your upper arms against your shins and move out your inner groin into the pelvis to help with the lift. While Bakasana helps strengthen the upper arms, forearms, and wrists, it is not recommended for anyone with a chronic wrist and shoulder injury and carpal tunnel syndrome. Moreover, pregnant women should avoid this as well. During practice, remember that everyone might fall, so don’t lose hope.
Wheel pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) shutterstock.com
18
Wheel pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana)
Yes, the upward wheel pose does resemble a human semi-circle but is cited by many experts to provide an energy boost to anyone who practices it. The asana stimulates the nervous system, unblocks the heart, so be sure to practice the pose during the day. Although, before you get into the pose, you must warm up your spine with a few rounds of other postures, like the Surya Namaskar, cat-cow pose, Virasana, and Gomukhasana. Other benefits of the yoga stance include increased mobility of the upper back, stronger arms and legs, improved body posture, and wider hip flexors. If you have a medical condition, it is best to consult a professional before trying this posture, as it could be injurious.
Seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana) shutterstock.com
19
Seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana)
Legend has it that ancient yogis practiced Paschimottanasana while facing the sun by stretching their entire back as they bent forward towards the light. Before you try this pose, consider practicing other asanas like the Balasana, Janu Sirasana, and Uttanasana to help you achieve the seated forward bend pose. Once you ace it, you will notice positive changes, such as a calmer brain, less stress, better digestion, reduced menstrual discomfort, and decreased anxiety, fatigue, and headaches. While executing this pose, newbies can hold onto a strap around their feet or can use a rolled blanket under their knees. Team up with a partner to help ease the pressure but avoid it if you have asthma, diarrhea, or a back injury.
Boat pose (Navasana) shutterstock.com
20
Boat pose (Navasana)
Navasana directs you to balance on the tip of your sitting bones and tailbone with your hands and legs in the air. This posture is great to improve and strengthen your core muscles. The pose further helps the thyroid and prostate glands by relieving stress and regulating metabolism. If you practice the boat pose regularly, it will help increase your ability to stay focused and emotionally calm and aware of your immune system. The posture, however, should not be practiced by anyone experiencing headaches, diarrhea, insomnia, or low blood pressure. Also, if you are practicing it for the first time, it is best if you consult a yoga instructor or doctor, especially if you suffer from any previous neck injuries.
Side plank pose (Vasisthasana) shutterstock.com
21
Side plank pose (Vasisthasana)
Owing to great sages who were named Vasistha, the pose is sometimes referred to as the sage pose. Vasisthasana helps you strengthen your forearms, spine, and shoulders, increase wrist flexibility, and opens up the hamstrings and hips. In order to properly balance body weight, one must practice the side plank pose with the soles of their feet pressing against the wall. You will find an improvement in your arms, core, and leg strength. This pose also helps stretch the back of the legs and wrists and improves the sense of balance. The side plank pose must be held for 30 seconds before retracting from it. You should avoid practicing this pose if you have any shoulder, arm, or wrist injuries.
Warrior III pose (Virabhadrasana) shutterstock.com
22
Warrior III pose (Virabhadrasana)
Another form of the warrior pose, Virabhadrasana III is an advanced asana and may be difficult for someone to master in one go. As a beginner to yoga, place a chair in front of you over a sticky mat to avoid injuries. Grab the top of the chair when you stretch your arms forward. When you rise to the complete pose, slide the chair away and use it to support your arms. However, do not apply extreme pressure on the chair. Benefits of the Virabhadrasana III asana include stronger ankles, legs, shoulders and back muscles. While the pose helps tone the abdomen, it also improves body balance and posture. If you suffer from high blood pressure, avoid practicing this pose.
One-legged king pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) shutterstock.com
23
One-legged king pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
If you participate in a lot of sports activities, you may already have tight outer hips and stiff front hip flexors. While the one-legged king pigeon pose is used as a therapeutic remedy for urinary disorders, it even helps stretch the thighs, abdomen, groins, chest, and neck. Other benefits include abdominal organ stimulation and the opening up of the chest and shoulder, smoothing the flow of every breath you take. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana can be quite intense and stimulating, therefore avoid its practice if you have an ankle, sacroiliac, or knee injury. Remember, for any asana always limit yourself and avoid going overboard without previous experience. Moreover, consult your doctor if you are unsure of how it may affect you.
Headstand (Sirsasana) shutterstock.com
24
Headstand (Sirsasana)
Similar to the handstand, this yoga pose can be practiced using a blanket or sticky mat to secure your head and forearms. You could also use a wall as support while flipping into the upside-down posture. The pose helps calm the brain, relieve stress as well as cure mild depression. The pressure applied on the upper body helps strengthen the arms. Meanwhile, balancing the lower body upright helps strengthen the legs and spine. You could have a partner hold you in place if you are trying this for the first time, but hold the pose for only about 30 seconds to avoid any dizziness. The Sirsasana is not recommended for anyone with a back injury, so do consult a doctor.
Standing forward bend (Uttanasana) shutterstock.com
25
Standing forward bend (Uttanasana)
An essential element of sun salutations, this posture can help you get flexible, especially on the back of your legs. A stress-relieving and relaxing pose, this helps strengthen the hamstrings and calves. There are several benefits borne from the Uttanasana. Some of them are reduced fatigue, liver and kidney stimulation, increased thigh and knee strength, and relief of stress and insomnia. If you are unable to practice this on your own, pick a partner to help you open the back of your legs. After the standing forward bend, you can try various other standing poses, inversions, or seated forward bends. However, avoid this particular asana if you have a back injury or consult your doctor before you try it out.