Though there are a lot of popular yoga poses, these may differ depending on the kind of yoga you practice. In the same way, there are lots of popular positions based on difficulty and whether you’re practicing sitting or standing yoga.
With this in mind, we’ve listed 7 of the most popular yoga poses below. These include positions that are often practiced in beginner yoga classes, as well as advanced and intermediate classes.
If you want to improve your yoga flexibility and strength, practicing these common yoga poses regularly may help you progress faster. Keep reading to discover 7 of the most popular yoga poses!
Child’s Pose – Balasana
Child’s Pose is known as a restorative yoga position. It’s very relaxing and can give you a break in between more difficult poses. It’s also a nice pose to help loosen the lower back, ankles, and calves.
Follow these steps to perform Child’s Pose:
- Position your knees wide apart. Point your feet together to your big toes are touching.
- Drop your hips to the floor so they touch your calves.
- Relax your forehead and forearms on the ground.
- With your eyes closed, breathe deeply through your nose, exhaling through your mouth. Remain in the position for five breaths.
Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha
Downward Facing Dog is good for all yoga skill levels as it stretches the lower and upper body well. It also stretches the calves, back, arms, and hamstrings while simultaneously strengthening the abs, legs, and arm muscles.
This pose involves the thigh bones deeply grounding into the hip sockets. This makes your pelvis tilt and back curve slightly, helping target any tightness. Beginners can keep their knees bent or use a yoga block until they gain more hamstring flexibility.
Follow these steps to perform Downward Facing Dog:
- Begin in a tabletop pose with wrists shoulder distance apart, straight over the mat. Double-check that your knees are beneath your hips.
- Tuck your toes and raise your knees off of the ground. Stretch the hips up and backward, allowing your body to form an upside-down V pose on the mat.
- Step your feet backward around three to four inches and ensure that your feet are hip-distance apart. Push your hands on the floor to extend your arms straight, elongating your back. Bend your knees to form a gentle arch in the lower back.
- Stay in this position for five breaths, then slowly return to the starting position.
Cobra Pose – Bhujangasana
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced, Cobra Pose is an incredibly popular backbend pose for all yoga levels. It helps open the lungs and chest, activate the glutes, and stretch the shoulders, abs, and spine. Cobra pose also helps relieve the lower back, helping release tension from sitting regularly on the couch or at a desk.
Follow these steps to perform Cobra Pose:
- Begin lying on your front, keeping your wrists beneath your elbows. Keep your feet pointed behind you with your legs engaged.
- Breathe in and move your chest in front. Raise your entire upper body, keeping your chest open wide.
- Turn your hands a little so your index knuckles are grounded. Your elbows should be bent so the head of your arm bones stays back in the shoulder socket.
- Inhale and exhale for a few breaths, then slowly return to the starting position.
Lotus Pose – Padmasana
This well-recognized pose is often thought of as a classic yoga position. Lotus pose is regularly used for meditation, while a lot of classes either start or finish their session with this pose.
Lotus pose is a more advanced position, so if you are new to yoga, it’s best to save this pose until you gain lower body flexibility. It may help to practice some hip-opening poses before trying this pose.
Follow these steps to perform Lotus Pose:
- Begin sitting on the ground with your legs straight and spine upright. Keep your arms lying by your sides.
- Start bending your right knee and draw it towards your chest. Place your right ankle in your left hip’s crease, allowing your right foot’s sole to face the ceiling.
- Start bending the left knee, then move your left ankle across your right shin. Your left foot’s sole should face the sky, while the top of your ankle and foot should lie across your hip’s crease.
- Move your knees together as much as you gain. Push your groin towards the ground and sit upright.
- Place your hands on your knees with palms towards the sky. Create a circle with each thumb and index finger, with your remaining fingers extended. This is known as Gyan Mudra.
- Relax your facial muscles and draw attention to the area in the center of the brows.
- Remain in the position for a minute, or however long your mediation practice lasts.
- To release from the pose, gradually extend your legs across the floor to return to the starting position. Repeat the steps so the other leg lies on top.
Standing Forward Bend – Uttanansana
This yoga pose has several benefits. It helps improve blood circulation, releases tight muscles, and increases spinal flexibility. It also gives the calves, hips, and hamstrings a nice stretch, while simultaneously making the knees and thighs stronger.
Follow these steps to perform Standing Forward Bend:
- Begin in Mountain pose with your feet hip-width apart, standing upright.
- Breathe in as you lift your arms.
- While you breathe out, bring attention to your thighs, then draw your belly in and upwards.
- Hinge from the hips to begin bending forward.
- As you start to move downwards, position your fingertips or hands on the ground, next to your feet, or in front of your feet. If you can, you can hold onto the back of your calves or ankles.
- Position your hips over your heels as you push the heels into the ground. Turn the top of your inner thighs inwards a little.
- Allow your head to hang forwards, maintaining a relaxed neck.
- Let the spine become long as you breathe in. As you breathe out, let your body relax deeper into the pose.
- Hold the position for a few breaths, then gradually return to Mountain pose.
A tip for Standing Forward Bend is that you can keep your knees bent slightly if you are unable to bend forward. If you practice regularly, your body will become more flexible, allowing you to perform a complete forward bend.
Triangle Pose – Trikonasana
Triangle Pose is suitable for all yoga levels. It focuses on the thighs, but it strengthens the ankles and knees at the same time. The shoulders, spine, and hamstrings also receive a nice stretch.
Triangle Pose also involves balance awareness, so anyone who practices the pose needs to keep the correct angles in the arms and legs, without straining the neck.
Follow these steps to perform Triangle Pose:
- Begin lengthways across your mat, keeping your feet around a leg’s distance apart.
- Turn your right foot so the toes face the short side of the mat. Move your left toes inwards around 45°.
- Activate your legs and move the right thigh out slightly, keeping the right knee aligned with your first two toes.
- Extend both sides of your waist, then tuck your lower belly inwards and upwards. Raise your arms so they lie parallel to the ground.
- Breathe in so you reach across to the right, moving your body over the right leg. Draw your hips near the back of the mat.
- Breathe out and move your right arm down, placing your hand on your leg, a block, or on the floor. Turn your ribs so they face the ceiling.
- Extend and point your left arm to the sky, keeping your spine and neck in line with each other.
- Either gaze directly ahead or tuck your chin a little to look up at your left hand.
- Relax your facial muscles and breathe comfortably. Keep pushing through your feet, expanding through your fingers and the top of the head. Keep your ribcage rotated.
- To release from the position, push your feet down into the ground, breathe in, then reach the left arm to the sky, returning to a standing position.
- Swivel your heels and perform the steps again on the opposite side.
A tip for Triangle Pose is to keep pushing through your feet. This will help your upper body feel lighter, making the pose easier.
Bridge Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Bridge Pose opens up the upper back, chest, and shoulders. It strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, and thighs when you lift them off the floor. Bridge Pose is also important to start practicing deeper backbends.
Follow these steps to perform Bridge Pose:
- Begin lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent.
- Keep your ankles directly beneath your knees and feet hip distance apart. Line your neck so the back of your head lies on the floor and your chin lies perpendicular to the ground.
- Breathe in, then push through your feet to raise your lower back and hips. Either place your arms on either side with your palms facing the sky, or clasp your hands beneath your torso.
- Raise your hips as high as possible, keeping your knees pointing the same way as your feet.
- Stay in the position for five, deep breaths, then slowly lower your hips to the ground.
The 7 yoga positions above are regularly practiced in yoga class, but this isn’t an exhaustive list of popular poses! Depending on the type of yoga you practice, there are a lot of poses that are performed frequently in class.
Nevertheless, getting to grips with some of the poses above may help you progress faster. Just make sure that you stick to poses suitable for your skill level, or modify them accordingly to match your ability. We hope you enjoy practicing some of these popular yoga poses!