It is difficult to choose just five popular poses in yoga, as there are an incredible amount of poses varying in benefits and what part of the anatomy that they work. From working the knees, hips, lower back, core, lungs, and more, these are only some of the types of positions there are. Yoga poses include different balancing methods such as twists, standing, bends, inversions, backbends, and much more.
Some positions target the body while others promote strength in the mind. Yoga helps with chronic pain, flexibility, blood pressure, and weight maintenance, but it also helps with depression, stress, anxiety, insomnia and purification of the human body such as lungs and glands.
Despite the many types of poses and variations, all intended for different benefits of the mind and body, below are five of the most popular yoga poses. Even as a novice, you may have seen these cornerstone poses in the media or in film.This is because these poses are an important part of the meditation practice, balance, strength conditioning, and cleansing of the mind.
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The most popular of them all, the Mountain Pose (Tadasana), is a basic pose that is integral to yoga. You stand with your feet together. You lift up through the crown of your head, lift your thighs, lengthen up through all four sides of your waist, elongating the spine. By breathing easy and focusing on this simple but cornerstone pose, you promote balance and allow yourself to be present in the moment, which is important to beginning any yoga session.
The Tree (Vrksasana) Pose, is also one of the most popular yoga poses there is. Even those who have never tried yoga have seen this easily recognizable position. First, you start in the Mountain pose. Bend one knee, using your hand to bring the foot and placing it into the upper, inner thigh of your standing leg. You can also place the foot to the shin below the knee if this is too difficult. Then, press into your standing foot and lengthen up your body through the crown of your head. With your arms straight and high into the air above you, this pose promotes concentration and balance by strengthening the arches of your feet and your outer hips.
The Camel (Ustrasana) Pose is accomplished by kneeling with your shins hip-distance apart. Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis. Press strongly down into the shins and reach up through the torso. Lift your chest up as you stretch your arms back to place your hands on your heels. If reaching your heels is difficult, you can modify this pose by curling your toes under (as you would if you were to sit back onto your heels from a kneeling position) so that you do not have to reach as far.
The Camel is a backbend that stretches the entire front of your body, from your throat to your ankles. It even helps to strengthen your back muscles as well, especially muscles you typically do not use as one would in a backbend.
Downward Facing Dog
The Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) Pose can be used for beginners and advanced students, alike, with minor differences depending on the skill level of the student. This pose is an inversion of the body. From a plant position on the ground, place your feet hip-width apart and your hands at shoulder-width apart, and lift your hips towards the ceiling or sky on an exhale until your body makes an inverted “V” shape. Your head is nearly to the ground and your eyes are looking between your legs or towards your belly. Be sure to try and pull the ribs and belly in.
It is important to keep your back straight and hips up and less important to keep your legs straight. Don’t be afraid to bend the knees or lift the heels, if needed. As you complete this pose, you will be able to fully straighten your legs as well as your back.
Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1) is another classic, cornerstone pose in yoga. The Warrior 1 can be completed by beginning in the Downward Facing Dog position. Step your right foot forward between our hands, turn the left heel in, and raise your torso and arms up on the inhale. This will allow you to end the “V” position and move back upright while your spine is straight, to avoid injury. The front foot’s heel should be in line with the back foot’s arch, with the front of the knee placed directly over the ankle. Face both hips forward, draw your tailbone down, and pull your ribs in. Repeat the pose on the opposite side of the body.
Remember, the back of your hip should be facing forward and not outward, and the back foot should be closer to a 45 degree angle, as opposed to a 90 degree angle. When in Warrior 1, you are left standing upright with your feet in the described angles and your arms straight upwards towards the ceiling or sky. Keep your chin out straight and eyes forward.