Exercise and Fitness Guide

5 Yoga Poses That You Should Perfect

Dr. Cindy Haines Jan 31st, 2014 (updated Jun 9th, 2015)
1 of 6
Next
1 of 6

The practice of yoga is simple and complex all at the same time. Yoga can be simply noticing and smoothing out one's pattern of breathing. It can also be the practice of one or more poses (asanas). When performed correctly and appropriately given any one individual's needs and readiness, yoga poses and physical practices provide great benefits with little risk. But done incorrectly, or before one is ready for any given pose or practice, the benefits may not be as meaningful, and the pose or practice could lead to injury. To maximize the benefits and minimize any risk, here are 5 yoga poses to perfect - setting up a strong and safe asana practice.

2 of 6
Downward-facing dog
Downward-facing dog

This common yoga pose is commonly done incorrectly. Start with alignment: toes tucked, palms to earth with fingers spread wide, index fingers pointing straight ahead. Lift hips up and back. Heels turned slightly out so all 10 toes point forward, heels disappear behind feet. Shoulder blades roll wide and down the back. Biceps frame the ears. Bend knees to help bring length to the spine.

3 of 6
High plank
High plank

High plank serves to create heat via isometric muscle action. From downward-facing dog, lift heels high and shift body forward, shoulders stacking over wrists. Gaze tracks slightly forward, draw naval in and up, shoulder blades squeezing in toward one another. For more isometric action, create the action of moving hands and feet toward one another (without actually moving them).

4 of 6
Cobra
Cobra

A heart opener, cobra counterbalances downward-facing dog. From flat on belly on the earth with hands underneath shoulders, palms facing ground, press into the tops of both feet and draw shoulders up and back, creating a slight lift to the heart and broadening across the collarbones. Gaze neutral and straight ahead. Knees and hips remain on the earth for cobra pose.

5 of 6
Upward-facing dog
Upward-facing dog

An extension of cobra, upward-facing dog takes things up a notch - knees and hips now lift as the heart shines forward. Press firmly into tops of feet, so much so that knees lift as the arms lengthen. Hips rise, gaze neutral. Open across the heart, spreading collarbones, rolling shoulders back and down. Crown of head reaches toward sky.

6 of 6
Savasana
Savasana

Commonly referred to as the final resting pose, this yoga pose can be one people most often skip. This pose is important for processing and integration of the rest of the yoga practice: A time to allow the benefits to fully realize. Letting go and melting into the earth, arms and legs long. Every muscle relaxing, breath returning to natural rhythm. Savasana can be as short or long as you like!