If you’ve ever been to a yoga class or practised yoga by yourself, you’ll already be familiar with some of the most common yoga poses out there.
If we asked you to list a few of the most common poses you associated with yoga, you’d probably only list around three or four.
The truth is, there are so many yoga poses you can practice, that you’ll probably be astounded by just how much potential there is to move around in your yoga classes!
Want to learn more about yoga poses? Here’s everything you need to know about yoga poses – including just many there really are.
Yoga Poses – How Many Are There, And Where Did They Come From?
If you’re wondering how many yoga poses there are, a more suitable question may just be ‘how long is a piece of string?’. Seriously.
In contemporary yoga, there are thought to be approximately 200 yoga poses that you can use, and in classical yoga, there are 84 recognised poses or asanas. 84 is the number that most yoga practitioners tend to agree on.
To learn a bit more about these poses, and why these specific poses are recognised, we need to take a closer look at the history of yoga.
If you’ve ever heard of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, you’ll know that it’s one of the most famous treaties on yoga to ever exist.
It’s thought to date back to approximately 200CE (pretty impressive, right?), making it even older than some of the earliest texts ever written about hatha yoga! Why is this relevant?
The treaty’s only real request was that all yoga poses should be comfortable and steady to perform. The treaty was the earliest recognized yoga treaty, and it didn’t actually name any specific poses.
However, as the years went on, more and more came to be recognized. From the 2nd century onward, the precise amount of recognized yoga poses has fluctuated from anywhere between 2 and more than 200.
In essence, in early yoga, there were a LOT of recognized poses, but as time has gone on, there have become even fewer.
Why is that? Well, in early yoga practices, poses were designed exclusively to help people sit and meditate comfortably so they could repeat their mantras (for more sitting poses, check out our guide here).
When we think of contemporary yoga, we know the practice now involves far more than just sitting and meditating. As the practice has evolved, the poses we perform have had to change their meaning, too, which has resulted in plenty more recognized positions.
Why Are There So Many Poses In Contemporary Yoga?
There are now so many yoga poses that we can work with, and the boom has been due to contemporary yoga. This is largely due to the way that contemporary yoga has developed over the years.
What was once a seated, meditative practice has advanced to include all sorts of physical postures, including bends, twists, and inversions. It was mainly during the 20th century that the concept of traditional yoga expanded to include more of the movements we see today.
It’s also thought that more images of the human body and an interest in physical culture in the 20th century helped encourage the expansion of yoga practices, creating some of the most common poses we see today.
A Note On ‘Asanas’
If you’re looking for more information on yoga poses, you’ve probably come across the term ‘asanas’. If you’re new to yoga, you may not be familiar with this term, so let us explain.
In yoga, asanas (or asana), is described as a type of body posture – in other words, it’s a fancier name for the type of poses and different postures we use in modern yoga.
In Sanskrit, the term literally means ‘place’, ‘seat’, or ‘posture’, and was traditionally used to refer to the seat you take in meditation. Asana states that all yoga poses should be comfortable, firm, and relaxed.
What Are The Most Common Yoga Poses?
Although there are around 200 yoga poses that you can perform, most practitioners tend to follow the traditional 84. However, if you’re a yoga–pro that’s familiar with all 84, why not broaden your horizons and try some less-common poses?
On the other hand, if you’re new to yoga, you’ll need to start somewhere. Here are a few of the most common yoga poses you’ll probably learn at the start of your practice:
Child’s Pose: Bend the knees and hips, relax to the ground, stretch your shoulders, and rest your head on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds.
Warrior 2: This lengthening pose places the knee at a 90-degree angle, extends the back leg with the foot facing outward, and extends the arm to the front and the back.
Cow Pose: This is one of our favorite spine extensions in yoga. Get on all fours, lift your head, and press your spine toward the ground. As you breathe in Cow Pose, you’ll slowly lift your spine into an arch, and then transition back into Cow Pose.
Downward Facing Dog: This is one of the most common yoga poses. Even if you’ve never done yoga before, you’ll probably be familiar with it. Start by standing upright, and then bend the front of your body until your hands touch the floor.
Your body should be in a triangular form with your hands and feet touching the ground. This exercise helps strengthen the shoulder and upper back.
The Bottom Line
If you’re new to yoga, its potential may astound you. Yoga is more than just the three or four common poses you’ve heard about.
There are so many different positions and postures for you to try (around 200 to be exact), so if you love yoga as much as we do, you’ll never be short on new positions to try out. What’s your favorite yoga pose, and how does it help your mind and body? Let us know!