17 Essential Yoga Poses That Will Activate Your Body From Head To Toe

All the must-know postures.

If you’re brand-new to yoga, welcome! It’s a beautiful practice that combines breathwork, meditation, and movement—which can do wonders for your well-being. Studies show that yoga may help aid with sleep and manage stress. Plus, some research suggests the mind-body practice can also support mental health.

Whether you’re drawn to yoga for the physical, mental, or spiritual benefits, having a basic understanding of common postures can make your practice flow much smoother. While there are many types of yoga, you’ll see a number of similar standard poses in each practice.

Below, we’ve compiled 17 basic yoga poses—with both their English and Sanskrit names—demonstrated by yoga instructors Phyllicia Bonnano and Juanina Kocher. Flow through these poses to familiarize your body and mind with each one, and they’re sure to become second nature in no time.

1. Mountain pose (tadasana)

  1. Stand up tall, and allow your shoulders to drop back.
  2. Feel grounded as your crown stretches toward the sky.
  3. Take a deep breath in; reach your arms upward.

2. Forward fold (uttanasana)

  1. Stand up tall with your arms reaching up to the sky.
  2. As you exhale, hinge at your hips and fold your upper body forward, bending your knees if needed.
  3. Inhale, and come into a half lift. Then exhale and lower back down.

3. Child’s pose (balasana)

  1. From a tabletop position, sit back onto your heels.
  2. Peel your knees open. Reach and extend your fingertips forward, allowing your chest to rest on your mat.

4. Cat-cow (chakravakasana)

  1. Place your hands on your mat, coming into a tabletop position.
  2. As you inhale, bring your belly toward the ground, bend your back, and allow your gaze to come up.
  3. Exhale as you curl and round your spine, bringing your gaze toward your belly button.

5. Downward dog (adho mukha svanasana)

  1. Come into a plank position on your mat.
  2. Inhale as you hinge at your hips, and lift them up high, coming into a downward-dog position.
  3. Ground down through the soles of your feet and your hands, allowing your hips to be the highest point. You can also pedal out your dog here, lifting one heel, then the other.

6. Plank (phalakasana)

  1. Place your hands and feet on the mat, rising up so your shoulders are stacked over your wrists.
  2. Engage your core, and hold for a couple of breaths. [ … ]

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