Don't get stuck in a sun salutation rut! These yoga positions have major sculpting (and de-stressing) benefits
12 Yoga Poses You're Not Doing—Yet
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If you go to yoga class regularly, you’re probably used to seeing many of the same sequences and poses over and over again. (Still new to yoga? Check out our 12 Top Tips for Beginner Yogis.) But did you know there are actually 2,100 asanas? While you may not see all of them in your traditional Vinyasa class, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be practicing them. We tapped Heather Seagraves, a senior teacher and teacher trainer at YogaWorks in NYC, to give us a fresh look at some poses that might be new to you—and find out why they should be in your arsenal.
Photo: Corbis Images
Three-Legged Dog Pose with Abduction
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Works: arms, shoulders, obliques, outer hip stabilizers, leg adductors and abductors
A From downward dog, lift one leg up to the sky, directly behind you, and then bring it out to the side. Be sure to maintain straight arms, externally rotating them, so triceps are turned towards your nose.
B With leg to the side, lower and lift it towards the mat. Repeat 3-6 times. Rest in child’s pose. Switch sides.
Seated Twist (Bharadvajasana)
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Works: spine, back extensors, hips, shoulders, and chest to lengthen and open. Improves digestion and can assist with alleviating back pain.
A Use a blanket or block support under the outside hip to help even out hips. Keep shoulders back and collar bones spread wide, lifting the breastbone up, but keeping chin in line with chest. Inhale to lengthen your spine.
B Turn to right, using right hand behind hips and left hand on right thigh to help gently twist as you exhale. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides.
Half Cow Face Intense Stretch of the West
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Works: spine, back extensors, outer hips, hamstrings, and side body to lengthen and open.
A Use a blanket or block support under your seat. Activate both feet by reaching through heels and press hamstring of straight leg into the floor. Try not to round spine. This pose is about lengthening, not folding all the way to the ground. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides.
Extended Leg Stretch Abdominal Variation
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Works: abs, core stabilizers
A Start laying on back, one leg bent, one in the air. Holding a block, reach arms upwards, lifting head and shoulders off the ground and drawing abs in.
B Bring head back to the floor as you lower the top leg down and reach arms straight overhead. Return to start. Repeat 3-10 times. Switch sides.
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose Vinyasa Variation
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Works: legs, spine, back extensors
A From a standing split, bend both legs, tapping top leg knee to bottom leg calf (as shown). Return to standing split.
B Repeat 3-5 times, then bend both legs, tucking the top leg to the outside of the standing foot and sitting down for the full twist toward the top leg. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides.
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Works: abs, core stabilizers, back, adductors, hamstrings
A Lay on one side, using bottom arm for support, and reach top arm up to grab the big toe of the top leg. For a variation, the top leg can also come into tree pose. Keep the neck long, supporting it where the head and neck meet. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides.
Partridge Pose (Kapinjalasana)
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Works: side body, legs, arms, back muscles. Lengthens quadriceps, opens front body and chest.
A Start in a side plank, with shoulder slightly behind wrist. Keep hips lifted and gaze downward. Make sure the bottom foot is rooted all the way through where the big toe meets the foot.
B Bend top knee, bringing heel toward your butt, and reach top arm back to grab outside of foot. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides.
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Works: groin, hip flexors, hamstrings by opening.
A Come into a forward lunge, front knee stacked over the ankle, and lower the back knee to the mat. Walk the outer edge of the front foot to the side of the mat.
B Bring palms down to the inside of the front leg, reaching out towards the opposite side and lengthening through the waist. Pay special attention to the shoulder blades, spreading them on the upper back as you lengthen the breastbone forward. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides.
Leg Lift Variations
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Works: abs, back, legs
A Lay on your back with a folded blanket under the sacrum for support. With arms overhead, lower your legs toward the ground about 45 degrees without letting the lower back arch. Repeat 3-10 times.
Plank Pose with One-Legged Dhanurasana
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Works: arms, abs, back, legs
A Come into plank pose, stacking shoulders over wrists and spinning inner elbows forward. Step feet in a few inches, so that hips are slightly higher than heels.
B Lift one leg upwards, bending the knee to 90 degrees. Lift through the back of both hamstrings and reach through the crown of the head and bottom of the heel. Hold for a few seconds, then switch sides.
Stomach Churning Pose
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Works: abs, arms, back, inner thighs
A Lay on your back with a folded blanket under the sacrum for support. Extend arms out to the side in a "t" shape with palms facing up. Bring legs up into tabletop position.
B Keeping legs in tabletop position, move knees toward right elbow, hovering over the floor. Keep both shoulder blades on the floor and arms pressing into the floor. Return to the center. Repeat 3-6 times on both sides.
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Works: Abs, arms, back
A Laying on your back with arms overhead in a "v" shape and palms facing up, bend your right leg into your chest, then cross over your body so right leg is perpendicular to left. Begin to straighten right leg. Turn head to the right, keeping chin perpendicular to the floor and in line with breastbone. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides.