Feeling a little unchallenged by your yoga practice? Perhaps you’re finding that you can do each pose without struggle, and you’re finding it all a little tedious. It’s time to shake up your practice!
With yoga there’s always more advanced variations, or different ways to change up your routine. While you might have seen some advanced yoga poses and instantly thought you’d never achieve them, if you’re finding yourself in a yoga rut, giving yourself a more difficult pose to aim for is a great way to bring some purpose back into your practice.
Here’s our run down of some trickier poses to aim for over the long term. Whether you're a master yogi, or a new beginner, there are always new poses to aim for to keep your practice inspiring.
1. Eka Hasta Vrksasana - One Handed Tree Pose
One handed tree pose, or Eka Hasta Vrksasana is a pose that requires tremendous determination, not to mention some seriously strong core muscles! This pose is essentially a one handed handstand, with your legs pointed out - so you look like a tree, as the name suggests. This is one of the advanced yoga poses that’s great for those who’ve already nailed the regular handstand. If you’re still working your way up to it, practicing inversions and poses leading up to a handstand, as well as working on your core strength will help you get to this pose eventually.
2. King pigeon
King Pigeon is a great pose if you’re working on backbends, and regular pigeon pose just isn’t doing it for you anymore. This advanced variation requires plenty of hip and back flexibility however, so make sure these areas are warmed up first. Lots of yogis like to incorporate this pose at the end of their practice, to work their bodies up to it. This is a great stretch for the lower body, while also increasing back strength. If you’re not quite there yet, keep practicing your pigeon pose, and incorporate a strap to help you slowly stretch your hands back towards your back foot.
3. Gandha Bherundasana - Formidable Face Pose
Ganda Bherundasana, or the Formidable Face Pose is an advanced yoga pose for those familiar with backbends - ideal for intermediate or advanced yogis. Not one to be attempted your first time on the matt! Work your way up to this pose by practicing backbends and strengthening your back and spine, and when you first attempt it use a block underneath your shoulders to ease any neck strains. The benefits of this pose make it a great goal to aim for - as well as strengthening your shoulders and arms, it also increases balance and opens your throat chakra.
4. Sayanasana - Scorpion Pose Variation
Scorpion Pose is also known as Sayanasana, and works by balancing on your forearms and stretching your feet towards your head. This advanced yoga pose requires serious arm strength and spine flexibility. You can work your way towards these poses by practicing dolphin pose and dolphin plank to strengthen your shoulders, and camel pose to open up the spine and create that flexibility that’s essential to Scorpion. Headstands and handstands are also good to work on in preparation for attempting Scorpion and getting your body used to being inverted! REmember, you can always start off against a wall for balance when you’re starting out in Scorpion - this pose takes practice! When you’ve mastered it you’ll benefit from spine flexibility, strong arms and shoulders and increased balance.
5. Taraksvasana - Handstand Scorpion
If you master Scorpion, take it up a notch by progressing into Taraksvasana, or Handstand Scorpion. This pose takes the Scorpion pose off your forearms, and as the name suggests, takes it up onto the hands. A variation on this pose can take one leg raised straight up, instead of having both feet resting on the head. If you can work your way up to this pose, it helps to strengthen your ab, shoulder and back muscles and gives you a better sense of balance.
6. Yoganidrasana - Yoga Sleep Pose
Yoga Sleep Pose may look uncomfortable, but it’s supposedly lets you reach a state of deep relaxation. Yoga Sleep Pose, or Yoganidrasana, triggers a state of pratyahara, a withdrawal of the senses which helps you reach inner peace and shake off the day to day stresses in your life. Yoga Sleep Pose also helps stretch those deep deep muscles in your back and spine, as well as ease tension in the neck. This pose requires flexibility in your hips and hamstrings, so work on hip openers and hamstring stretches to work your way up to this complicated pose.
7. Chakra Bond Pose
The Chakra Bond Pose is a variant on the Chakrasana, which can be attempted by any yoga level. This backbend is great for stretching the chest and expanding the shoulders, while strengthening your whole body. If you’re bored of the basic Chakrasana, work your way up to Chakra Bond by backbending to hold the ankles. This is one of the most advanced variations of Chakrasana and requires a lot of flexibility in the back. Be patient and slowly work your way up to the full variation of this pose - it’s not one to try straight away!
8. Pungu Mayurasana - Wounded Peacock
Wounded Peacock, or Pungu Mayurasana is the peacock pose, while balancing on one arm. It requires plenty of arm, shoulder and wrist strength as it balances all of your body weight in on hand. This pose is a great pose to massage the abdominals, and improve your digestion, as well as easing stomach conditions. It’s important to practice this pose on both sides, for digestive balance! Work your way up to wounded peacock by mastering the peacock pose with two arms. You can spread your legs apart if you’re struggling with your balance, or you can spread your other arm to the side too.
By Amy Cavill
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