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Yoga Anywhere Pose Encyclopedia

 

Now that you’ve seen all the cool places yoga can take you, it’s time to begin your own practice—or take it to the next level. The following index of poses is designed to guide you though the postures demonstrated by the instructors from Strala Yoga in Shape’s Yoga Anywhere video series. Many of the descriptions listed here are excerpted from the book Yoga Cures by Tara Stiles. If you’re interested in a more comprehensive guide to yoga and its benefits, you can learn more about her book here.

Seated Poses

Boat


Sit on your hips, keep your back long, lean back slightly, hold your belly in and up, and lift your legs up so your shins are parallel with the ground. If this is too much pressure, grab hold of your ankles for support. Stay here for ten long, deep breaths.

Compass
Hug your right knee with your arms. If there’s room press the bottom of your right foot into your left elbow, wrap your right arm around your right thigh, and join your hands to cradle the leg. If that hurts your knee, hold your right foot with your left hand and your right knee with your right hand. Lengthen torso and sit up tall. Relax your shoulders downward. Sway your left leg from side to side to open your hip.

If your hips feel open, press your right hand under your right calf and bring your right leg to rest on top of your right shoulder. Grab the outside of your right foot with your left hand. Press your right fingertips into the ground alongside your right hip. Lean right, look under your left arm, and gaze upward. If there is room in your hamstrings, begin to straighten your right leg and keep opening your torso upward and toward your left. If it stops at the right upper arm, that’s fine. Stay here for five long deep breaths.

Pigeon
Come into a low lunge with your right leg forward. Gently lower your right leg, still bent at the knee, so that it’s resting in front of you in a reverse V. Your right knee will lie on the ground by your right hand and your right foot will lie by your left hand. Rest your hips on the ground or on a blanket or pillow. Sit up as tall as you can in this position. Your hips and shoulders should be working toward facing the front. Stay here for ten long, deep breaths.

If it feels good in your pigeon, bend your back knee and grab hold of the inside of that ankle with your left hand. Gently pull your foot toward your thigh. If there is any pain in the knees, let go, back out of this slowly, and relax. If it feels good and there is room to go further, slide your foot into the crook of your elbow and link hands. Stay here for five long, deep breaths.



Seated Meditation
Sit up nice and tall, however you can sit most comfortably. If you have a headboard on your bed, lean against it. Relax your shoulders so that they are away from your ears. Rest your hands on your thighs and close your eyes. Start to rest your attention on your breath. Watch your inhales come and exhales go. Settle your mind in the space between. Begin to lengthen and deepen your inhales and exhales, setting a slow, easy pace of breathing. If a thought starts to enter your mind, simply observe it like a cloud passing by. Continue observing your breath for three to five minutes.

Seated Split
Sit up tall and open your legs to the sides until you feel a little tension but not so much that it is uncomfortable. Walk your hands forward between your legs and keep your torso long. Stay here for ten long, deep breaths favoring the exhales a bit more than the inhales to encourage tension to release.

 


Standing Poses

Big Toe Hold
Hug your right knee into your chest and grab your big toe with two fingers of your right hand. Stay here for three long, deep breaths. If you feel steady, gently extend your right leg forward. Lead with your heel. If your right leg doesn’t straighten all the way, down force it. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed and stay steady with your breath. Stay here for three long, deep breaths. From your front extension, open your leg out to your right side. Stay here for three long, deep breaths then bring your leg back to the forward position.

Bird of Paradise
Begin by getting into bound extended angle: From warrior II, bring your torso forward over your front thigh. Press your right forearm into your right thigh and open your chest outward and up. Extend your left arm up and over your left ear. Look toward your left palm. If there is room, wrap your right arm around your back and hook your hands together. Lengthen your torso upward. Feel as if you are reaching upward with the top of your head and back through the outside edge of your back foot.

To move into bird of paradise, maintain the bind as you move your back foot forward so it’s parallel with your front foot. Slowly transfer your weight to the unbound leg. Now raise yourself up while keeping your bind, moving the bound leg upwards as you straighten up. Balance on one leg and hold the other leg in mid air. Once you feel stable, straighten the bound leg so your toes are pointing upwards. Focus your attention on the opposite shoulder.


Chair
Stand up tall with your feet parallel to each other, under your hipbones. Shoulders should be in line with your hips. Stand with your eyes closed for three long, deep breaths. On your next inhale, bend your knees and sink your hips down like you are sitting in a chair. Reach your arms up toward your ears, keeping your shoulder blades down your back. Relax your face. Allow your muscles to work for you without getting involved. If thoughts begin to enter your mind, observe them and then gently send them on their way. Stay here for five long, deep breaths. If your body starts to feel like it’s working to stay in this position, that’s a good thing, it just means you are alive and have a functioning body. Breathe fuller and deeper to give your body what it needs here. (Optional: Cross left leg over right knee before sinking down into one-leg chair pose.)

Dancer
Shift your weight onto your right leg. Bend your left knee and grab the inside of your left calf with your left hand. Gently press your foot into your hand to open your back. Reach your right arm straight up. Stay here for five long, deep breaths. Try the other side.

Downward-Facing Dog
From all fours, tuck your toes, left your hips, and press back into down dog. Reach your heels toward the ground. Relax your shoulders toward the ground and relax your head and neck. Stay here for five long, deep breaths. If desired, lift the back of your right thigh straight up for down dog split.

Eagle


Hug your right knee into your chest. Bend your left knee and cross your right leg around your left leg, hooking your right foot on either side of your left leg. Wrap your right arm under your left arm. Sit down as much as you can and lift up through the arms to stay on balance. Stay here for five long, deep breaths. Unwind and do the same thing on the other side.

Half Moon
From warrior III, plant your right fingertips down under your right shoulder, open your left hip on top of your right, and open your torso toward your left. Extend your left arm straight up and look up toward your left fingers. If desired, lift right hand off the ground and extend both arms out over your head for half moon balance. Stay here for five long, deep breaths.

High Lunge Arms Up
Come into a low lunge. Press down through your feet and bring your torso up, aligning your shoulders above your hips. Inhale and lift your arms straight up. Relax your shoulders downward. Stay here for five long, deep breaths.

Standing Split
Starting in warrior III, slowly lean forward reaching your hands to the ground and extending the back leg up with toes pointed. Hold for five long, deep breaths.

Tree, Hands in Prayer
Shift your weight onto your left leg. Draw your right knee into your chest, grab your ankle, and press the bottom of your right foot onto your left thigh. If you feel wobbly keep your hand on your ankle while it’s pressed into your thigh. If you’re finding your balance really easily, reach your arms straight up or press your palms together in front of your chest. If this is challenging in an overwhelming way, place your toes on the ground and rest your foot onto your ankle. Press your palms together in front of your chest. Stay here for ten long, deep breaths. Come back to standing for ten long, deep breaths and try the same thing on the other side.

Triangle
From warrior II, straighten your right leg so both legs are straight. Lean your torso forward over your front leg, keeping both sides of your torso long. Rest your right hand on your shin or bring your fingertips to the ground if you can. Lean back, open your shoulders, and extend your left arm up above your shoulders. Look up to your left fingers. Stay here for five long, deep breaths.

Warrior I
From high lunge, spin your back heel so your foot is planted on the ground, turn your right toes to face your front and your left toes slightly in so your hips and shoulders are facing your left. Open you arms straight out and away from your torso, right arm in front of you and left arm behind you, palms down. Look over your front hand. Bend your right knee so your thigh is parallel to the ground. Stay here for ten long, deep breaths.

Warrior II
From your high lunge, spin your back heel so your foot is planted on the ground, turn your right toes to face your front and your left toes slightly in so your hips and shoulders are facing your torso, right arm in front of you, and left arm behind you, palms down. Look over your front hand. Bend your right knee so your thigh is parallel to the ground. Stay here for ten long, deep breaths.

Warrior III
Hug your left shin into your chest, then extend it straight back behind you so it’s parallel to the ground. Flex your left foot and point the toes down. Bring your fingertips to the ground to stabilize yourself. Reach your arms out in front of you so your body is in a straight line from your fingertips all the way down your back and out through your left heel. Stay here for three long, deep breaths. Bend both knees slightly and again hug your left shin into your chest and place your left foot next to your right to come back to standing. Do the same thing on the other side, starting with tree pose first.
 

Inversions and Arm Balances


Chin Balance
From plank, lift your right leg to a 3-legged plank, and lower down into one legged knees, chest, chin (releasing your left knee, your chest, and your chin to the ground). Lift through your right inner leg. You can prep by taking your left foot to support your right thigh, and when your back feels open enough and ready, lift your left leg to meet the right.

Crow
Come into a full squat. Press your palms firmly into the ground a few inches in front of your feet. Place your knees onto the tops of your upper arms. Look out about a foot ahead of you. Lift your hips and belly up. Stay here for a few breaths. If you feel steady left one foot off the ground and place it back down. Then try lifting the other foot and placing it back down. If you are still stable, try lifting one foot, and then the other. Press down through your palms to lift both feet up, if possible. Stay here for three long, deep breaths and slowly lower your feet back down.

Dolphin Pose
From your downward-facing dog, lower your forearms to the ground so they are parallel to each other. Keep your fingers spread wide. Lift your shoulders away from the ground and relax your head. Stay here for five long, deep breaths.

Eight Angle Pose
Hug your right knee with your arms. If there’s room press the bottom of your right foot into your left elbow, wrap your right arm around your right thigh, and join your hands to cradle the leg. If that hurts your knee, hold your right foot with your left hand and your right knee with your right hand. Lengthen torso and sit up tall. Relax your shoulders downward. Sway your left leg from side to side to open your hip.

If your hips feel open, press your right hand under your right calf and bring your right leg to rest on top of our right shoulder. Then, cross your left ankle over your right.  With both of your hands  shoulder's distance apart on the ground, start to bend your elbows as you squeeze your legs together on your right upper arm. Reach your chest forward as your weight transfers into your hands.

Forearm Stand
From dolphin, inhale and lift your right leg up so that your hips lift over your shoulders. Exhale and lower it back down. Try the same thing with the left leg. Continue with this until you get the feeling of getting your hips over your shoulders, or if you feel ready, take a light hop the next time you inhale and lift a leg to bring yourself into forearm stand. If you are new to the pose, try positioning yourself near a wall so you can kick up and rest your legs along the wall. Stay here for five long deep breaths and slowly lower down to child’s pose.

Grasshopper
Start in chair pose.Take your left leg into half ankle-to-knee (crossing your left ankle above your right knee on your right thigh). Then take a twist to the right, placing your left elbow or upper arm inside the arch of your left foot. Find a prayer with your hands at the center of your sternum, and breathe there for a few deep breaths. Once comfortable in the twist, come onto the ball of your right foot, and sink your sit bones towards your right heel. Then, keeping your left upper arm connected to your left foot, place both hands on the ground, shoulder's distance apart, bend your elbow, and transfer your weight into your hands. If you would like to then extend your right leg long, go for it!

Handstand
Stand on your right leg, tip your weight forward so your left leg extends back behind you and your fingertips come to the ground. Press your palms firmly on the ground under your shoulders. Straighten your arms. Keep the left leg lifted and rock forward and back, just starting to get your hips over your shoulders. Start to take small hops on your right leg. When you hop up, lift your left leg high so your hips are over your shoulders and keep your right leg dangling down so your legs will be in an L shape. Keep breathing though the entire movement. Inhale as you rock or lightly hop up, and exhale as you release.

See if the bottom foot wants to leave the ground as you rock forward. Rest your gaze between your hands. Lift up in your belly as you rock forward to give yourself an extra boost to get some air. Try little hops on that right leg and lift the leg up so your legs will be in the shape of the letter L.

If you are finding some balance in your handstand L shape bring the legs together at the top. Keep your arms strong and steady and your gaze focused but soft on the ground between your hands. There are a bunch of fun ways to topple out of a handstand. You can cartwheel out of it, flip your body into a backbend, walk the hands a bit till you can bring the feet back to the ground, or make up your own way. Remember, yoga is experiential. It’s your experience. Make sure to breathe through the routine and repeat it on the other side, too!

Headstand
Sit on your heels. Interlace your fingers loosely and place them on the ground. Place the top of your head on the ground so your fingers hold the back of your head. Stay here for a few breaths to get comfortable in the position. If this feels uncomfortable, come back to sit on your heels. Stay here for a few breaths. If you are comfortable, tuck your toes and straighten your legs. Stay here for ten long, deep breaths and when you are ready come out of it gently, lower your knees to the ground, and relax in child's pose.

If you want to move on to a full headstand, start to walk your feet in toward your body so your hips line up over your shoulders and your back is straight up and down. Stay here for a few breaths. If you are comfortable here bend one knee in and bring your heel to your hip. Bring it back down and try the other leg. If you are steady with one leg try both legs at the same time. When your heels are pulled in toward your hips, slowly extend your legs straight up. Stay for twenty long, deep breaths if you can. When you are ready to come down, slowly lower one leg at a time and rest in child's pose for a few breaths.

One-Arm Forearm Stand
From downward-facing dog, lower your forearms to the ground for dolphin pose.  Keeping your left forearm as it is, take your right hand in line with your left elbow (like it would be for tripod headstand), then lift your right leg high, transfer your weight into your left forearm and right hand and play with lifting your left leg off the ground.

Open Split Arm Balance
Start in a wide low lunge with both hands inside of the right foot. Then, take hold of your right ankle with your right hand and wiggle your right shoulder underneath your right knee. Once you have that contact, place your right hand outside of your right foot, plant both of your palms firmly on the ground, shoulder's distance apart, bending your elbows to create a shelf.  Using your right upper arm to rest your right leg, start to extend your right leg forward. Reach your chest forward, transfer your weight into your hands and play with lifting your left leg off the ground.

Scorpion Pose
Once in forearm stand, press into your finger pads, pull your chest through your shoulders and look up as you bend your knees and reach your toes towards your head. Use each inhale to lengthen your chest forward and each exhale to release your toes lower. Stay here for five long deep breaths and slowly lower down to child’s pose.

Side Plank
From downward-facing dog, roll your torso out into a plank pose. Lift your hips, press down with your right hand, roll to the outside edge of your right foot, and open your torso toward the left. Extend your left arm straight up and look up to your fingers. If desired, take hold of the big toe on the left foot and extend left leg up. Stay here for three long,, deep breaths and do the other side.

 

Backbends


Upward-Facing Dog
From plank, lower your knees gently to the ground. Roll your shoulders down and lift your chest up through your arms with a big inhale. Straighten your arms as much as feels comfortable, while keeping your shoulders down. If you straighten your arms and your back feels pinched, bend the elbows and continue to lift your chest through your arms until you feel good. Don’t be shy about adding a little movement if needed to keep the pose fresh and help open up your back. Sway your torso a bit from side to side if that feels good. Remember, keep your body easy, never forced or tense.

Wheel (Forearm)
From forearm stand, split your legs so that the right leg reaches foreword and the left leg reaches back as a counter balance. Start to reach your chest through your shoulders, bending your right knee and reaching your right foot toward the ground by your hands. Use each inhale to reach your chest through your shoulders and each exhale to reach your toes towards your hands until your right foot lands on the ground. Then, allow your left foot to come to the ground as well, and walk your feet towards your hands. Grab ahold of your ankles if they are accessible.