The nature of yoga is in itself, repetitive. From day one, this repetitiveness is encouraged as you test your mind and body in order to strike each yoga pose perfectly as you learn. The desire to master yoga poses is exciting — until you finally master them. Then what?
As you go to your yoga classes, you may find yourself mindlessly and effortlessly becoming familiar with the basic poses and you don’t seem to get as much out of it as you used to. What was once intimidating and fun has now been attained and no longer exciting. You want more. This is when you need some new moves to freshen up your routine and nudge yourself out of your comfort zone.
Mix Up Repetitive Poses with New Physical Challenges
Below lies a list of basic yoga positions you may be extremely familiar with — but each with a twist. Each pose has an aspect that will amp up your vinyasa routine. This will continue to work on keeping your basic poses strong but even better, these new twists will build muscle in places you didn’t even know you had muscles.
So, if you’re looking for a confidence booster and something different in your daily, predictive routine, try out some of the poses below.
This pose is great for yogis who want to strengthen up the muscles in the legs, rear, and back.
- You begin by standing firmly on your left leg. Tilt your body forward and lift your right leg up, behind you with your arms at your side. (Just like playing “airplane”).
- Then, bend your left knee and lower your body down as far as you can, resulting in a single-leg squat — keep your right leg extended behind you as you do this.
- In this position, do five slow squats. Switch legs and do the same.
This exercise will really challenge your quad muscles during squats and give you something different to try as you challenge your skills in yoga.
Side Plank Knee Crunch
This one is a personal favorite. It is somewhat difficult, but the challenge of maintaining balance and moving through the strain is just what you need to revamp your routine and hit the next level.
- First, start by laying on the left side of your body. Place your left hand on the floor and push your upper body off of the ground with that one hand. The only things touching the floor now are the edges of your feet and your one hand.
- Next, lift your right arm and right knee at the same time; bend them; then bring them together, until your elbow touches your knee.
- Hold this “side crunch” for five snow breaths.
Think of this as a sideways-vertical crunch plank. Take your time, as this is a difficult pose. When you’re ready, switch sides and test the other side of your body with this pose. You’ll impress your friends and even your yoga instructor!
Three Point Plank
Speaking of planking, the Three Point Plank is a great exercise for strengthening your muscles and challenging your ability to hold a strenuous position. It is also really simple to understand — perhaps a bit more difficult to accomplish.
- First, move into a high plank position on the ground and slowly lower yourself down until you are hovering only two to four inches above the ground, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
- Then, push yourself back up, push-up style, into plank position. Lift your left leg around six inches off of the ground, directly behind you and repeat the slow push-up using your three contact points (two hands and one foot).
- Hold the three point plank position for three slow breaths, or as long as you can, and then push back up to a high plank. Be sure to keep your left leg extended for the duration.
Then, just switch legs and do this three point plank again with your right foot extended. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Wait until you try it!
Alternatively, you can try this pose by using your arms as your front contact point, as in traditional planking. See the photo below.
Lifted Crescent Lunge
Yogis love to exercise as many muscles as possible during poses. This makes this pose especially fun to play around with when you have gotten bored of your routine.
- First, from a standing position, take a large step forward with your right leg. Bend the right knee until you are in a deep squat lunge. Lower your left knee to the ground and raise our arms up next to your ears, reaching to the sky.
- Gently, arch your back, keeping you head straight in line with your arms. Alignment is very important.
- Then, slowly lift up your left leg and straighten it behind you, so that you are balancing on the top of your left foot behind you and on the entire bottom of the right foot in front of you.
- Hold this position for three to five slow breaths before lowering back to the ground.
Switch legs and repeat.
This is an especially difficult pose and due to the dangers of balancing and placing weight using the top of your foot behind you, be sure to take extra care in this pose, preferably by practicing it with an instructor or friend to keep you stable.
Headstand Pike Up
If you are a more advanced yogi and are really looking for a challenge, consider this pose to shake things up. Be sure you have experience in headstands first and always practice this position with a yoga instructor or another professional yogi. Don’t break your neck.
If you’re ready for this, let’s begin.
- First, kneel down and place your head on your yoga mat. Decide whether you want your hands in a tripod position or cradling your head. This is up to you.
- Next, extend your legs out straight until you’re balanced on your head with your back straight and your toes pointed.
- Contract your core and slowly lift your toes off the mat, so that you are in a pike position.
- Then, continue up into a full headstand. Hold this position for around three slow breaths and then lower your feet back down slowly through pike position, until your toes hit the floor.
If you can master these poses, then you are ready to shake up your routine in other ways and never find yourself in a rut again. While yoga is already a huge challenge, some poses can become boring and no longer challenge you physically or mentally.
When it is time for a change, choose poses that exercise, stretch, and challenge muscles and parts of your body that your current poses are not accomplishing well enough.
With that, have fun, be safe, and always keep moving.