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10 Essential Yoga Poses

If you only do 10 yoga poses, do these.

For centuries, yoga poses and techniques have been used as a way to achieve optimal health and well-being. If you’re looking to incorporate yoga into your daily routine, but struggling to find the time or figure out which poses to do, please read on. Below are 10 essential poses you can easily master and incorporate into your day, no matter what your schedule. Spending just a few minutes with these poses can be incredibly powerful and effective at improving your overall well-being, both physically and mentally.

By Travis Eliot


Malasana (Yoga Squat)

This pose is a squatting position with toes out, the heels in, and the hands at prayer position in front of the chest. It stretches the calves, inner thighs, relieves back ache and opens the pubic symphysis in the the pelvis.


Half Moon

In this pose, you balance on the right leg and right hand with the the left leg lifted parallel to the floor and the left arm extended straight up. A balancing pose like this one is good for the brain, the mind and the nervous system.


Alternate Nostril Breathing

This is a form of yogic breathing that is done in a comfortable seated position. It brings equilibrium to the two branches of the autonomic nervous system to release stress and anxiety, and also helps to clean the lymphatic system.


Gratitude Meditation

This is a universal form of meditation where you focus on all the things you feel grateful for, which is the perfect antidote for depression.


Camel Pose

Stand up on the knees, hips width apart. Both hands rest either on the lower back or heels depending on your flexibility. The pose increases lung capacity, and stimulates the adrenal, pituitary, pineal and thyroid glands.


Bound Ankle

In this pose you sit on the floor with the soles of the feet together, allowing the knees to drop out and toward the floor. The shoulders stack over the hips, and it is optional to lean forward, keeping a straight spine. The pose circulates energy through the pelvic organs.


Warrior I

Standing with the feet at least 4 to 4.5 feet apart, the front toes point forward with the back foot on a slight angle, the feet aligned heel to heel distance. The front knee stacks right above the front ankle, with the front thigh parallel to the floor. Both arms extend overhead as the shoulders, chest, and hips attempt to square forward toward the front of the room. This pose can bring relief to overall tension in the body.


Wheel of Vitality

Standing with the feet wide apart, turn the heels in and point the toes out. Bending the knees out toward the toes, squat toward the floor, keeping the knees properly aligned. With the hands at the heart, a circular tai-chi type movement begins: 1) open the arms out and bring the hands back together at the heart, 2) hands are pressed toward the sky, then back down toward the floor 3) hands sweep down, toward back foot and then make a big circle forward, all the way back around 4) reverse the circular movement the opposite way. Repeat this arm motion three times, maintaining the steady squat the entire time. This movement promotes the cardiovascular system, and the movement of blood through body while improving focus and emphasizing the breath.


Half Lord of Fishes Pose

Bend the left knee while crossing the right foot over top, with the knee sticking straight up. With the right hand on the floor behind for support, bend the left elbow and place it on the outer right thigh to engage into a deep, thorough twist. Repeat on the other side and make sure that you twist from maximum spinal length. This pose is good for improving digestion and relieving lower back pain.


Forearm Plank

Think upper push-up, but on your forearms. With the elbows right under the shoulders and the palms flat to the floor, the back toes tuck so the body is in one line of energy from the crown of the head all the way through the heels. Using your own body weight in yoga to create strength helps to keep the skeletal system strong and helps to prevent osteoporosis.



All photography courtesy of Travis Eliot.

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