Must-Know Yoga Poses

From stress and sleepless nights to lower back pain and tight hamstrings, we’ve asked our team of experts for the best yoga poses to help you whatever your ailment.

The best yoga pose for…concentration

EAGLE POSE (Garudasana)

The Eagle Pose - a basic level Vinyasa Yoga asana - is a balance posture that requires you to stand on one leg while binding your entire body. Naturally this asana calls for you to concentrate and focus the mind to a single point (which is also a brilliant stress reliever.) 

The pose requires (and develops) focus, and will help calm your mind and let go of distractions.

The posture has a number of other health benefits too, including;

  • Stretches the shoulders and upper back
  • Strengthens the thighs, hips, ankles, and calves
  • Increases breathing capacity
  • Improves sense of balance

The Eagle pose is best practiced in the morning on an empty stomach. Hold for 10-30 seconds.

The best yoga pose for…stress

CHILD’S POSE (Balasana)

Child’s Pose is the perfect go-to if you’re feeling the need to rest and recover. This asana - which you come to from a kneeling position, bringing the forehead to the floor and relaxing the arms alongside the body - allows the rest of the world to drift away as you draw your awareness inwards.

If you’re feeling particularly frazzled- mentally, emotionally or physically - the forward fold of the body with your eyes closed promotes feelings of calm and safety; an instant stress-buster.

This resting position can be held for as little as 30 seconds up to several minutes - depending on how long it takes you to relax into the posture and get comfortable. Stress-free is the ultimate goal here

While Child’s Pose tends to have an immediate effect on stress levels, it also boasts other benefits, including;

  • Gives a gentle stretch to your hips, ankles, thighs, and shoulders
  • Relieves back and neck pain when the head and torso are supported
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Enhances blood circulation
  • Releases muscle tension

Child’s Pose is usually practiced before and/or after a headstand.

The best yoga pose for…strength

CRANE POSE (Bakasana)

Crane Pose is an intermediate level asana that requires incredible upper body strength, as well as balance and core stability. Its sister pose, Crow (or Kakasana) - a modified version in which the arms stay bent - is probably what most people are familiar with when they first start practicing yoga.

Full Crane Pose is done with straight arms, knees in your armpits, and the buttocks as high in the air as possible - and is the version that is really going to challenge and improve your strength.

As with any dynamic balancing asana, the first thing to master is your fear of falling on your face! Daily practice is key to cracking this pose.

Crane Pose is often performed closer to the beginning of a yoga class because it requires strength and a good deal of exertion but whenever you do it, it’s best to practice on an empty stomach.

As well as significantly improving strength in your arms and wrists, this posture also;

  • Tones and strengthens the abdominal muscles
  • Stretches the upper back and groin
  • Boosts balance
  • Increases full body coordination

Hold the Crane Pose for 20-60 seconds for full effect.

The best yoga pose for…relaxation

CORPSE POSE (Savasana)

Generally practiced at the end of a yoga session, Corpse Pose - lying flat on your back while resting your arms and legs - is known for its ability to relax both body and mind.

External distractions are ultimately lessened in Corpse Pose, and you’re able to find clarity away from the noise of everyday life. 

In Savasana, muscular and skeletal tension is consciously relaxed and you are able to reap the benefits of your entire yoga practice.

Practice also increases;

  • Body awareness
  • Your ability to notice your thoughts
  • Concentration

Corpse Pose leaves you in a state of rejuvenation, which is the perfect way to end a yoga session. (Especially if it has been a fast-paced one!)

A side note - once you start to relax in the Corpse Pose, your body temperature may cool down slightly, so keeping an extra layer of clothing or blanket to hand is advisable!

As long as you are comfortable, the asana can be held for several minutes at a time. Enjoy the serenity, let go of the day’s worries and focus on the body and breath.

The best yoga pose for…athletes

BRIDGE POSE (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Bridge Pose is one of the best backbending yoga poses for beginners. It's versatility means you can practice it in a number of ways depending on what you want to achieve - a brilliant way for athletes to use it to their advantage.

The asana can be either restorative or a dynamic way to improve strength and flexibility. Other benefits of Bridge Pose include;

  • Stretches the chest, spine and neck
  • Improves digestion
  • Rejuvenates the body, including tired legs (excellent for athletes)
  • Reduces backache
  • Helps with fatigue and insomnia
  • Stimulates abdominal organs and lungs
  • Alleviates stress

Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.

The best yoga pose for…sleeplessness

LEGS-UP-THE-WALL POSE (Viparita Karani)

A restorative yoga posture that is exactly as it sounds! You lie on your back as close to the wall as is comfortable for you before extending your legs so that the back of them are resting fully against the wall.

This posture - although seemingly passive - allows the body and mind to relax and does wonders for aiding stress and tension.

Close your eyes and concentrate on the breath as you relax into the pose. If it helps, place an eye mask over your eyes to block any light that may be interrupting your practice.

Aside from releasing strain - which ultimately aids sleeplessness - Viparita Karani has a number of other perks including;

  • Increases circulation
  • Soothes swollen or cramped feet and legs
  • Relieves lower back tension
  • Pelvic floor relaxation

Stay in this pose for anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes.

The best yoga pose for…those who work at a desk all day

DOWNWARD FACING DOG (Adho mukha svanasana)

Arguably one of the most recognised yoga poses, the Downward Facing Dog offers an ultimate all-over stretch. Perfect for those who have been working at a desk all day!

The posture lengthens and strengthens muscles in the body, particularly the legs. So if you’re sitting all day and your legs are inactive, Downward Dog is a great reliever.

The pose is also great for stretching out the wrists and hands, which may become tired from spending the day typing at a screen.

Other benefits of Downward Dog include;

  • Strengthens the arms and shoulders
  • Brings blood flow to the brain
  • Stretches the spine and strengthens the back

Adho mukha svanasana is one of the poses included in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence, but it’s also a brilliant asana on its own. Stay in the pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes to feel its effects.

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