From Bridge Pose to Half Moon to Shavasana
New to yoga? It can take a few sessions before you fully get the hang of the different poses, not to mention class etiquette. But if you don’t have a clue what the difference is between downward-facing dog and shavasana, then you might spend a good chunk of your first few classes fumbling through your flows. Study this A-to-Z list of the most common yoga poses and terms so you can get your om on with confidence.
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• Bridge Pose: Also known as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana. To start, lie on your back and bend your knees with your feet flat on the ground. Pressing into your arms, push your hips up into the air with your feet remaining on the ground.
• Chair Pose: Also known as Utkatasana. Stand with your feet together, bend your knees, and sit back (as if you’re sitting in a chair). Raise your arms up next to your ears and hold the pose.
• Child’s Pose: Also known as Balasana. This is a resting pose typically done in the beginning of class or if you need to take a break in between sequences. Stand on your knees with the tops of your feet together. Place your chest down in between your legs (with your knees apart), rest your head on the mat, and stretch your arms out in front of you.
• Downward-Facing Dog: Also known as Adho Mukha Svanasana. With your feet hip-width apart, bend forward at the waist, press your palms flat into the ground, and push hips in the air. Make sure your hands are at the front of the mat and your toes face forward near the back of the mat. Press down fully into your palms to avoid straining your wrists.
• Extended Triangle: Also known as Trikonasana. With your feet apart and both legs straight, hinge forward at the hip and bring your right hand to your shin, ankle, or the floor (depending on what’s comfortable). Raise your left hand straight into the air. Repeat on the other side.
• Half Moon: Also known as Ardha Candrāsana. With your left foot on the ground, lift your right leg straight up into the air with your foot flexed and pointing to the side. Place your right hand on the ground, about 10 inches diagonally and in front of your right foot (if you can’t reach, use a block). Raise your left arm toward the ceiling.
• Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose: Also known as Viparita Karani. Lie on your back with your legs up against a flat wall (they should be straight). Place a pillow under your lower back if you need extra support.
• Locust Pose: Also known as Salabhasana. Lie on your belly and lift everything else off the floor (your arms, legs, and chest).
• Low Plank: Also known as Chaturanga. This pose usually follows a Plank. Bend your arms and lower into a low plank. Hold for a breath before moving into Upward-Facing Dog.
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• Mountain Pose: Also known as Tadasana. This pose may look simple, but it’s important for your yoga practice. Stand tall with your feet together and your big toes touching. Let your arms rest at your sides.
• Plank Pose: To do this core-strengthening move, get into a push-up stance, but place your forearms on the mat. Keep your body still with your abdomen tucked into your lower back. Hold the pose.
• Thread the Needle: Lie on your back and pull your knees toward you so they form a 90 degree angle (with your knees pointing at your head). Cross your right ankle over your left thigh, clasp your hands behind your left knee, and pull the left leg toward you. Repeat on the other side.
• Tree Pose: Also known as Vrksasana. Stand on one leg and place your foot on either your ankle, shin, or thigh, depending on your flexibility (avoid putting it directly on your knee, which can hurt the joint). Lift your arms into the air to create “branches” and hold the pose.
• Shavasana: This cool-down pose typically happens at the end of class. Lie flat on your back, close your eyes, and attempt to relax every muscle in your body. Rest your arms at about a 45 degree angle from your torso with your palms facing up.
• Standing Forward Bend: Also known as Uttanasana. Inhale as you reach your hands up toward the sky, then bend at your waist and fold your arms over your legs, reaching toward the ground. Depending on what feels comfortable, hold your calves, opposite arms, or touch the ground.
• Standing Split: Also known as Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana. This pose usually follows Half Moon. Bend over with one leg raised. Drop your both hands to the floor so they’re even and lift your leg up as high as it is comfortable. Repeat on the other side.
• Upward-Facing Dog: Also known as Urdhvamukhasvanasana. This pose usually follows a Low Plank. With your hands still in that position, slowly lower your hips toward the floor. Then, untuck toes and push gently into your hands, lifting your chest up.
• Warrior I: Also known as Virbhadrasana I. Stand with your feet wide apart, facing forward with your hips square. Step your right foot forward and bend your knee. Your left leg should be behind you, with your foot turned out 45 degrees. Lift your arms up overhead with your hips still facing forward.
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• Warrior II: Also known as Virbhadrasana II. Stand with your feet wide apart (about a leg’s distance). Your right leg should be angled out 90 degrees with your left toes turned in slightly. Hold your arms out at your sides so they are level with the floor. Bend your right knee so it’s stacked on top of your ankle. Hold the pose and repeat on the opposite side.
• Warrior III: Also known as Virbhadrasana II. Stand with your feet together. Point your left toe behind you and tip your weight forward on your right leg. Continue to lift your left leg up and lower your head and torso until you’re in a straight line from head to toe. Straighten your arms out behind you at your sides.