The Tiger Pose: How To  

Tiger Pose is wonderful for opening up the heart and maintaining a healthy spine. It’s a nice option for anyone that wants to improve their flexibility, balance, and core strength. 

The Tiger Pose: How To  

Tiger Pose can be practiced in a warm-up, as it can prepare you for harder backbends and balancing poses. You can choose to hold it in a static pose or perform it actively, in a dynamic way. Holding the pose is better for improving strength and endurance, while dynamic movements are best saved for warming up. 

Tiger Pose is known for relieving anxiety, stress, and depression symptoms. This is because the backbend frees up the chest, helping to release any tightness or tension in the muscles. 

This also helps strengthen back muscles and improve posture, which is perfect for anyone feeling the effects of lengthy seated periods. 

You’ll learn more about Tiger Pose in this post, including its history, benefits, and how to practice the pose correctly. 

The Story Of Tiger Pose

Tiger pose is known as Vyaghrasana in Sanskrit. The name ‘Vyaghra’ means tiger. The asana received the name as it resembles a stretching tiger that has just woken up.

Tiger Pose was originally mentioned in Hatha Ratnavali, a yoga text created in the 17th century. It was stated to be one of the 84 poses that Lord Shiva taught to people. 

The story says that Shiva chose the poses as he watched 8,400,000 breathing animals. He then taught humans how to do the poses for their benefit. 

Advantages of Tiger Pose

Here are some of the benefits of practicing Tiger Pose:

  • Strengthens muscles in the arms, thighs, knees, glutes, shoulders, and back.
  • Opens and relieves tension in the chest and hips.
  • Helps improve balance and coordination, allowing you to take on more difficult balancing poses.
  • Activates stomach organs to improve digestion. 
  • Relieves tension in the lower back, helping to relieve lower back pain and tension.
  • Relaxes sciatic nerves which may help ease sciatica.
  • Activates muscles near the spine, helping to improve posture and spinal strength. 

Some people also believe that Tiger Pose activates the sacral chakra (to find poses that will balance your 7 chakras, read here). 

As you look at the sky, the back curves downward, forming an energy circle around the sacral chakra to keep it balanced. 

A balanced sacral chakra leads to better digestion, creativity, pleasure, and movement. 

How To Perform Tiger Pose

Now that you know some more about Tiger Pose, let’s get into the steps! 

  1. Start in Table Top Pose with your wrists shoulder distance apart and your knees hip distance apart. 
  2. Beginning with the right leg, start to slowly extend the right foot. Straighten and gently stretch the leg upwards. 
  3. List your head and arch your back upwards. 
  4. Move your foot to the back of your head, without straining. Hold the position for several seconds. 
  5. Extend the leg and straighten it, gradually moving it under your hips. If possible, draw the knee closer to your forehead or nose. Keep arching your back and curving your neck towards the floor.
  6. Let your thigh push across your chest. Don’t let your right foot touch the ground as you continue the movement.
  7. Remain in the same position for several seconds. Repeat the steps between five and ten times, then come back to tabletop position.
  8. Repeat the steps for the opposite leg, then relax in the beginning position, taking slow, deep breaths. 

Ensure that your thigh touches your chest and your foot doesn’t hit the ground as you arch upwards again. 

Modifications

  • If you have limited shoulder movement, you can wrap a yoga strap around your ankle to improve your reach.
  • Anyone with stiff hips or hamstrings may find the pose easier with wall support. You can improve your reach by positioning your knee higher on a wall. 

Tips For Practicing Tiger Pose

Here are some tips to help you when performing Tiger Pose.

  • If you have sensitive wrists, you may prefer balancing on your fists instead of on flat palms. This will also help you challenge your balance a little more.
  • If your wrists begin to hurt, performing the pose on your forearms will take the pressure off of your wrists.
  • If you have sore or sensitive knees, you can keep a folded blanket underneath them. This will cushion your joints so they feel supported.
  • Keep awareness of your legs and arms throughout the pose. Your weight should be spread evenly between the leg that stays on the floor and both of your arms. 
  • Keep your thighs engaged to improve your stability and balance.
  • Try to find a comfortable level. Don’t force the motion or strain your muscles. You can start trying harder levels after you find the pose more comfortable. 

Tiger Pose Variations

After you start to find Tiger Pose easier, you can challenge yourself with these more difficult variations.

The Tiger Pose: How To

One-Handed Tiger – Uthana Vvyaghrasana 

One-Handed Tiger is a version of Tiger Pose that challenges your balance. 

  1. Starting in Tiger Pose, lift your right leg, then move your weight across your right arm.
  2. When you’re ready, raise your left hand and move it backward, aiming to grasp your right ankle. Push your right foot into your left hand as you aim to raise it higher. 
  3. Stay in this position for three to five breaths, then release the pose. 
  4. Perform the steps again on the other side, then relax in Table Top position.

Foot Touching Head – Vvaghrasana

Try One Handed Tiger as above, but aim to touch the back of your head with the sole of your foot. 

Hold the position for a few breaths, then return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. 

Foot Resting On Head – Vvaghrasana

This variation involves resting the foot on the head, instead of merely touching it. The body balances on the hands and knees, leaving your hands unable to assist the movement. 

Remain in the position for several breaths, then return to the beginning position. Repeat the steps on the other side, then relax in the starting position. 

Balancing Table Pose

If you want to improve your balance but are unable to hold the back bend, try this beginner-friendly variation of Tiger Pose.

Balancing Table Pose starts in Table Top position, so your back remains in neutral alignment.

  1. From Table Top, raise one leg so it lies parallel to the ground. Keep it straight and flex your foot. 
  2. If you’re ready, raise the opposite arm so it lies parallel to the floor, extending your fingertips in front.
  3. Aim to stay balanced for three to five breaths, then release the pose, returning to Table Top.
  4. Repeat the steps on the opposite side. 

Tiger Pose Precautions

Tiger Pose can be an effective yoga pose, but there are some precautions to be aware of before practicing it.

Hip Position

Several beginners may open their hips to the side, as this helps them raise their legs higher. It’s best to avoid this and keep your hips stacked. 

You may need to keep your knee lower, but a stacked-hip position ensures you benefit more from the pose. 

Lifting your leg too high too soon may also lead to sore back muscles, so it’s better to progress gradually. 

Poor Alignment

Always check to ensure your body is in proper alignment before you begin lifting your leg. Your knees should be straight under your hips with your wrists directly beneath your shoulders.

Injuries

Don’t practice this pose if you have any injuries in your knees, back, or hips. 

You should also avoid the pose if you have any migraines, spinal conditions, or live with back, joint, or neck pain

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to practice Tiger Pose! 

This pose is great for improving balance, flexibility, and strength. However, as it can be a challenging pose, remember to take it easy as you practice. 

Never force any movement and release the pose immediately if you notice any pain. 

Once you start becoming comfortable with Tiger Pose, you can progress to the harder variations to see how much you’ve improved! 

Laura Simmons
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