Take your yoga practice to the next level with these unique poses.
You’re probably already very familiar with some of the most basic poses in yoga like Downward Dog, Bridge, and Warrior. Although these poses are an important core part of any yoga practice, they can get a bit stale after a while. If you’ve ever felt the urge to freshen up your daily routine and progress beyond the basics, you need to try the below advanced variations of your classic yoga poses. Switching up your practice presents a great new challenge, both physically and mentally. Here are seven unique poses to take your yoga flow to the next level.
By Kristine Thomason
At first glance, this pose may look just like warrior two. But there’s a catch: It’s done en pointe (which is why it’s named after Misty Copeland). Once you’ve raised onto your toes and found balance, squeeze your heels and thighs toward each other, while stretching your arms apart and relaxing your shoulders away from ears. This variation on standard warrior two will help better tone your inner thighs, calves, helping you get one step closer to a dancer’s bod.
Knee to Chest from High Lunge
From a standard high lunge position, engage your core and draw your back knee into your chest. Step back to high lunge with control, keeping your core engaged the entire time, and repeat. The addition of the knee raise adds some extra core work to your practice, and also helps improve functional movement in your hips.
Open Hip Standing Split Pulse
In most Vinyasa classes, standing split is a stationary move. But for this glute-strengthening version, open up your hip, and flex your raised foot. Then, isolate the outer butt cheek, and pulse the heel up 10 times while activating your glute muscles. Release to forward fold and repeat on the other side.
One-Legged Bridge Lifts
Begin in a traditional bridge pose, with both feet planted on the floor and hips raised. Then lift your right leg up, while keeping the thighs parallel. Pretend you’re squeezing a block in between your thighs to create resistance, but keep the thighs inner-hip-distance apart. Lower your butt an inch above the mat, and squeeze your left butt cheek to lift your hips back up. It may seem simple, but removing support from one leg in this pose will really sculpt and tone your glutes.
Warrior III Crunches
Start in warrior III, balancing on one leg with the other outstretched behind you. Then bend the standing knee slightly and crunch both your arms and raised leg in towards your torso. Expand back to warrior 3, and repeat five times. This pose challenges your balance, coordination, and core strength.
Kudnalini’s Decent with a Twist
Bend your right knee a few inches down and cross the left knee outside your right. Bring your hands in prayer at heart center and hook your left elbow outside the right knee. To deepen the pose, squeeze your thighs together, engage your core by lifting your torso an inch off your thigh, and try to bring your left heel to your butt.
From a wide-leg goddess stance, raise one or both heels off the mat and pulse your butt an inch down and then up, for a fun yet effective glute-toner. Or for another variation, place your hands behind your neck and work your obliques by crunching from side to side. Just be sure to keep your back flat the entire time.
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All images courtesy of Health.com / Kristine Thomason.