Common Yoga Poses

Updated 
August 31, 2015

Here are a few basic yogainfo-icon poses your teacher may mention at class. Use this information to talk with your healthcare team.

Cat and Cow Pose

These poses are often done together.

In Cat Pose (Marjaryasana), find your way onto the floor, with hands under shoulders and knees under hips on a yogainfo-icon mat. The back is relaxed, in a soft, natural curve that requires little effort. Exhale and round your spine toward the ceiling, like a cat waking from a nap. Inhale and return to your natural, relaxed position.

Transition into Cow Pose (Bitilasana) with an inhale, and relax your stomach toward the floor, gently lifting your head to look ahead of you. Exhale and return to the neutral position.

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Stand at a wall or near a friend when first trying this balance pose.

Position yourself with both feet flat and parallel on the floor, lifting one foot and placing the bottom of that foot on the other leg, either above or below the knee. Do not place the foot on the knee-joint. If you can balance with the standing-leg straight, bring both arms up in front of your chest with palms facing each other. Keep the arms up and gaze forward. Imagine sending roots down into the earth from the bottoms of your feet.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

This is considered a go-to resting pose; it is often done at the end of a yogainfo-icon practice or if you need to rest during the class.

Kneel on the floor and sit back on the heels, leaning the upper body forward to fold over the thighs. Rest the arms at your sides, and rest your forehead on the floor in front of your knees.

You can modify the pose by placing a block under your forehead and a rolled up blanket at the back of the knees, or by opening the knees and placing the forehead on a block. Modify for your comfort level, and your body’s needs.

Relaxation Pose (Savasana)

Lie on the floor on your back with your knees slightly bent. Lightly lift your pelvis and release. Inhale and straighten your right leg out on the floor; then, inhale and straighten your left leg out on the floor. Use a folded towel or small pillow to support your neck and head. Reach your arms toward the sky and slightly rock your upper body side to side, to loosen the muscles and deepen the pose. Slowly bring your arms to the floor, palms up and slightly away from the body. Be aware of and release any tension in your body. Prop with a rolled up blanket under the knees for comfort.

Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

This pose is known for relaxing the mind and body; many people use it right before going to bed.

Sit next to a wall. Swing your legs around and up the wall, using your arms for support and gently letting your back down onto the floor. Stay there with your legs up the wall and your body supported by the floor, breathing slowly and allowing your body to relax. 

If you feel too much stretch in the backs of your legs, come out of the pose and move yourself farther away from the wall. 

To come out of the pose, bend your knees and roll to one side—don’t stand up right away.

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Article August 31, 2015