Top Yoga Poses
This pose builds the muscles in your legs, helping with a number of weight lifting activities, like the kettlebell swing and windmill and deadlifting.
- Begin by standing straight, with your arms at your sides. (This is the basic Mountain Pose.)
- Move your feet about three or four feet apart, pointing your left foot forward. Turn your right foot and knee away from your left leg.
- Inhale as your lift your arms straight out to shoulder height.
- Exhale and bend your body over your right leg. Place your right hand on the floor.
- Lift your left arm over your head and look toward your hand.
- Stand in that pose for 5 or 10 breaths.
The famous Downward Dog works the whole body, but in particular focuses on the shoulders, legs, and spine. It strengthens the arms, legs, and feet, while cleansing your body of fatigue.
- Begin in the basic Mountain Pose, arms at your sides.
- Bend forward at the waist while keeping your back straight and put your palms on the floor. Spread your fingers out, but keep them pointed forward. You may bend your knees if necessary.
- Move your feet back until your position resembles a push-up at full height. At this point, your hand should be directly below your shoulders.
- Move your hips upward so your body forms an inverted V.
- Keep your eyes focused on your toes as you push your chest toward your knees. Push your heels toward the floor. Take deep breaths and push your chest in a little farther each time you exhale. It’s even possible your heels will touch the floor, if you’re flexible enough.
Warrior I Pose
There are three variations to the Warrior Pose and this is the first. Its name comes from the ideal of the spiritual warrior who fights against the ultimate enemy, the ignorance of self, which is believed to be the source of all human suffering in the beliefs that underpin yoga.
The Warrior Poses are excellent for strengthening your legs muscles.
- Stand straight, then move your feet apart so one is in front and one is behind you.
- Turn your back foot at a 45-degree angle, then stretch out your front leg, keeping your front foot pointed straight ahead.
- Inhale and bring your arms straight up over your head.
- Exhale while bending your front knee forward, as if lunging.
- Lift through the core of your body, while holding that pose for several breaths.
The Pigeon Pose is one of those known as a “hip opener”, because it relieves stiffness in the hips. It also increases lower body flexibility, as well as strengthening the hips and lower back. It’s one of the poses which can be seen in yoga retreats everywhere.
- Begin on all fours, trying to keep your back straight.
- Move your right knee up, toward your right hand, then turn that knee at a 2 o’clock angle.
- Slide your left leg back as far as you can.
- Your hips should remain parallel to the floor to prevent pressure on your back which won’t allow you to open up your hips as you should.
- At this point, you should be able to feel stretching in your right glute. If not, then slide your right foot forward, bit by bit, toward your left hand. After practice, you’ll be able to move your foot until it’s parallel with the front end of your mat.
- Your right thigh should be turned somewhat outward and your left thigh turned somewhat inward, so the pressure is not on your knees.
- You should be upright on your hands, with your hips slowly moving forward and down. More practiced practitioners rest on their forearms. Eventually, the pose moves forward and down until your chest will be resting on the floor, with your arms straight out in front of you.
- Breathe in and let your belly relax to open up your hips. Stay in this position for a period between 10 breaths to five minutes.
This is another very basic pose, which tones and strengthens the legs, back, and chest. It requires a good amount of balance, because it involves standing on one leg.
- Stand straight on your left leg and put your right foot on your left inner thigh.
- Point your right knee out to the right side of your body.
- Raise your arms so your hands are above your head, palms pressed together.
There are many yoga poses that you can try at home. When you’re first starting, however, it’s always best to get training in a group setting or class just so you can get the forms nailed down. After that, it’s time to get out the mats, lift the weights, and get stronger and stronger.
Emily Hunter is a SEM Strategist and Outreach Supervisor at the Marketing Zen Group working with the great folks at Samahita Yoga Retreat in Thailand. She loves designing strategies with her team and is excited about spreading the Zen gospel. In her spare time, she cheers for Spirit of Atlanta, Carolina Crown and Phantom Regiment, crafts her own sodas, and crushes tower defense games. Follow her on Twitter at @Emily2Zen