Yoga Poses Categorized by Type and Function

With simple tips and links to more detailed instructions
Published: 2019 12 03
Published: 2019 12 03
Categories/Tags: Yoga Poses

In any yoga pose, you can focus on some sort of muscle activation to help you feel your body.

In the case of a yoga pose, where you aren't using any external weight, muscles will work against each other or against body weight for sustained activation since muscles need an opposing force to work against in order to stay active.

This is to your advantage since it helps you to feel your body both via muscle activation sensation and via the connective tissue tension that is generated by muscle activation.

Side plank yoga pose: elbows and knee are straight. Torso is inline with the supporting leg. Supporting shoulder is stacked over support wrist. Top leg is flexed upwards with the big with grabbed by the same side hand. Gaze is directed upwards with head in line with the torso.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

Pose Categories

Yoga poses can be categorized in a number of different ways.

Yoga Pose Basics

You can use yoga poses to learn your body. This is as opposed to just doing yoga poses. Find out how in Using yoga poses to learn your body.

For a slightly philosophical approach to doing yoga poses, daoist Five Element Theory offers some useful tools. In this case the five elements offer a 5 part list of qualities you can check for in your yoga poses.

Look after your hips!

As you get more involved in your yoga practice, one area that you should take care of is your hips.

To take care of your hips learn to feel them and adjust them, particulary while doing standing yoga poses. Here's some suggestions for adjusting your hips and keeping them safe: Basic hip adjustments for standing yoga poses

A related idea is that of grounding. Here's a overview: Grounding your yoga pose. And if you are wondering, grounding and creating stability are almost the same thing. You can read about stability in stability in yoga poses.

Stability and grounding are both important when doing yoga. However, in terms of feeling your body, there is one other thing that you can focus on to make feeling your body easier. It's covered in Improving proprioception and control.

How do you warm up for a yoga practice?

One practice consideration when doing yoga poses is warming up. One way is with sun salutations. Another idea is discussed in Yoga pose warm ups.

If you are designing your own yoga pose routine, something to be aware of is how to balance actions. For more details check out counterposes.

How should you sequence yoga poses?

For suggestions for sequencing yoga poses take a look at sequencing yoga poses and sequencing yoga poses 2.

And for a simple overview of different types of poses that you can include in a yoga practice check out hatha yoga poses.

How do you modify yoga poses?

Another important idea is learning how to modify yoga poses. That can be as simple as using a wall, yoga blocks, a chair or yoga strap for support. More detailed suggestions are covered in modifying yoga poses.

Something that you can do in nearly any yoga poses to make it easier to connect to your body is to add bigness. The simple reason is that it creates space in your body and that in turn adds tension to connective tissue which in turn makes it easier to feel your body.

You can read more about adding bigness in Adding bigness to your yoga poses.

You can read another take on this same idea in Making your Yoga Pose Sensational.

How important is alignment when doing yoga poses?

Some yoga teachers like to focus on alignment. Others like to focus on breathing. Some like to focus on a little bit of both.

I think proper yoga alignment isn't so much about aligning one part of your body with another, though that can be a good starting point. Instead, it is learning to feel when you are aligned. That means tuning in to tension and muscle activation sensation.

Joint Safety: How do I keep my joints safe?

A big concern when doing yoga (or anything for that matter) is keeping your joints safe. Here's a look at how you can keep your SI joints (and knee joints) safe in asymmetrical seated poses like marichyasana. The ideas discussed can be applied to any asymmetrical pose, and you don't even have to be binding. Read more in SI Joint Stability in Marichyasana

How do you keep your hips safe when doing yoga poses, particularly standing poses where they are bearing weight? Activate them! But there are different ways to activate the hips. Hip Joint Stability looks at one useful method for stabilizing the hips.

A key point for any muscular activation technique is not to overdo it. Otherwise you'll only be fixing one problem by creating another.

Yoga for Beginners

If you are just beginning a yoga practice, a good place to start would be with Beginners Yoga Routine.

For a beginners routine that is a little more challenging, take a look at Beginners Yoga.

Standing Yoga Poses

Standing Yoga Poses tend to be grouped according to whether the reference leg is turned out relative to the pelvis or facing forwards. They could also be grouped according to whether one or both knees is bent or straight. Bent knee poses tend to used to strengthen the thighs. That being said, straight knee standing poses can also be used to strengthen your legs if you make an effort to activate your leg muscles.

Why are standing yoga poses important?

Standing yoga poses can be used to warm up the body. In particular, bent knee standing poses (either one or both knees bent) can be used to warm up the body, particularly if held for long periods of time. These bent knee standing poses can also be used to strengthen the thighs.

Standing poses that are done on one leg can be used to practice balance.

Standing poses that also involve binding can be used to strengthen arms or legs. Where a foot is grabbed by a hand, the muscles of the leg and arm can be used against each other for a strengthening affect. If using leg against leg (as in tree pose or eagle pose) the leg muscles can be strengthened.

For more reasons to do standing yoga poses you can read
8 Reasons to do Standing Yoga Poses.

Basic Balance Poses

Standing Yoga Poses: Balancing on the forefeet. Feet are parallel and about hip width apart with knees straight. Weight is over the forefeet and toes with both heels lifted. Knees are straight. Arms are by the side. Head is aligned with torso with gaze directed forwards and slightly downwards.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Standing yoga poses: Balancing on the heels. Feet are hip width and parallel with weight over the backs of the heels. Forefeet are lifted. Knees are nearly straight. Arms are down and head is inline with the torso with gaze directed forwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Standing Yoga Poses: Standing forward bend. Feet are parallel and hip width apart. Weight is over toes and forefeet with heels lifted. Knees are straight. Torso is bent forwards at the hips. Elbows are straight with arms reaching back past the hips. Head is tilted slightly back relative to the torso with gaze directed downwards towards the floor just in front of the feet.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Standing Yoga Poses: Standing forward bend. Feet are parallel and hip width apart. Weight is over the heels with forefeet lifted. Knees are straight. Torso is bent forwards at the hips. Elbows are bent with arms lifted and hands just in front of the feet. Head is tilted slightly back relative to the torso with gaze directed downwards towards the floor just in front of the feet.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Standing yoga poses: Balancing on one heel. Body is upright with one  leg slightly lifted. Weight is over the standing leg heel with the forefoot of that foot lifted. Supporting leg knee is slightly bent. Head is inline with the torso with gaze directed straight ahead. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Standing yoga poses: Balancing on one foot with heel slightly lifted. Body is upright with one  leg slightly lifted. Weight is over the standing leg forefoot with the heel of that foot lifted. Supporting leg knee is slightly bent. Head is inline with the torso with gaze directed straight ahead. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Standing Yoga Poses: Standing forward bend on one foot. Torso is bent forwards at the hips. Weight is centered over one foot. Supporting leg knee is straight. Foot is flat on the floor. Other foot is slightly lifted. Hands are lifted with elbows bent.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Standing Yoga Poses: Standing single leg bow pose: Torso is bent forwards at the hip. Weight is centered over one foot. Standing leg knee is straight with foot flat on the floor. Lifted leg knee is bent. Lifted leg ankle is grabbed by the same side hand. Spine is bent backwards. Standing leg hand is on the floor with elbow straight. Gaze is directed downwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Standing Yoga Poses: Eagle Pose. Both legs are bent. One leg is crossed on top of the other with the top leg ankle crossing behind the supporting leg shin. Torso is bent forwards at the hips. Arms are intertwined. Gaze is directed forwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Standing yoga poses: Tree pose.  Weight is centered over the standing foot. Other foot is lifted with knee bent and lifted foot placed against the inner thigh of the standing leg. Torso is upright with head in line with torso. Gaze is directed straight ahead. Hands are together in a prayer position in front of the chest with elbows bent. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Knee balance, balance on one knee with only the knee touching the ground. Try moving only your leg to correct for balance. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

For an overview of balance the best place to start is with Learning how to balance

You can practice (or improve) balance while standing (or in one case above, while kneeling).

With these 11 Basic Balance Poses , to improve balance you can focus on lifting your forefeet or heels while on both feet. You can also practice balancing on one foot, either with your weight towards your forefoot (easier) or towards your heel (more difficult).

Balancing on one shin, you could make balancing easier by pressing your toes into the floor. However, if you balance on the knee with foot lifted, you can move your arms or lifted leg to help stay balanced.

For a more comprehensive look at balancing yoga poses, take a look at
Yoga poses to improve balance.

Back Bending Yoga Poses

Back bending yoga poses: Standing back bend with spine bent backwards and pelvis pushed forwards so that hips are bent back. Spinal erectors, gluteus maximus and hamstrings active.
Back bending yoga poses: Lunge with back leg straight and lumbar and thoracic spine bent backwards using spinal erectors, gluteus maximus and hamstrings (of straight leg).
Back bending yoga poses: Lunge with both legs straight with back leg hip bent backwards and spine bent backwards also using spinal erectors.
Back bending yoga poses: Kneeling lunge with spinal back bend. Back leg hip is over knee, spine is bent backwards using spinal erectors, gluteus maximus of bottom leg active to help tilt pelvis backwards.
Back bending yoga poses: Upright lunge with back knee on floor. Glute and hamstring of back leg active. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Backbending yoga poses: Camel pose. Kneeling with hips lifted, hips are positioned over the knees. Torso is leaning backwards with hands placed in front of the hips. Head is inline with the torso with gaze directed forwards and upwards.
Back bending yoga poses: Camel pose. Hands on feet with elbows straight. Hips pushed forwards over knees. Spine actively bent backwards using spinal erectors. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga poses.
Back bending yoga poses: Pupply dog with elbows bent. Kneeling with hips lifted and over the knees. Torso is bent forwards at the hips with spine bent backwards so that chest can rest on the floor. Head is tilted back so that chin is on the floor. Elbows are bent with hands partially supporting the weight of the upper body. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Back bending yoga poses: Cobra pose: Body is supine or belly down. Knees are straight with legs resting on the floor. Torso is lifted with spine actively bent backwards by the spinal erectors. Elbows are slightly bent with the hands supporting the upper body. Head is in line with the torso with gaze directed straight ahead.
Back bending yoga poses: Upward facing dog pose: Body is positioned belly down with knees straight and spine actively bent backwards using the spinal erectors. Glutes and hamstrings also activated to bend the hips backwards. Feet point backwards with the feet pressing into the foor. Elbows are straight with the hands supporting the weight of the upper body. Head is tilted slightly back with gaze directed forwards and upwards. Shoulders are active. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga  Poses.
Back bending yoga poses: Upright pigeon pose with spinal erectors activated to bend spine backwards and back leg glutes and hamstrings activated to bend hip backwards.  Front leg hip is lifted so that pelvis is level from left to right. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Back bending yoga poses: Upright pigeon pose variation with spinal erectors activated to bend spine backwards and back leg glutes and hamstrings activated to bend hip backwards. Front leg hip is resting on the floor with shin parallel to front of imaginary mat. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga poses.
Back bending yoga poses:  bridge pose with hips fully lifted using glutes. Spine actively bent backwards using spinal erectors. Shoulders are on the floor with hands unclasped and elbows straight. Palms and feet are flat on the floor.
Back bending yoga poses: Wheel pose with spine actively bent backwards using spinal erectors. Glutes are activated to bend hips backwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

In the Spinal Back Bending Yoga Poses shown above, the focus is on bending the spine backwards. These types of poses can also include a backbend for the hips.

How do you keep your spine safe when doing spinal back bending yoga poses?

When doing back bending yoga poses, it is important to actively bend your spine backwards using your spinal erectors.

In either case, using muscle activation not only helps to keep your spine (and hips) safe, it also gives you the ability to feel your spine (and/or your hips). When you can feel your spinal erectors and hip extensors activating, you can use the sensitivity and control that the provide to adjust your back bending yoga poses.

Note that with some of the back bending poses shown above, the arms help to support the body. For these poses in particular it's very easy to relax your spinal erectors and allow gravity to help you to bend your spine backwards. And so for arm supported poses in particular (but also bow pose, where you are grabbing your ankles, and also puppy dog pose) make sure that you engage or activate your spinal erectors to help keep your spine safe.

How do you keep your hips safe when doing spinal back bending yoga poses?

If a spinal back bending yoga pose also includes a back bend for the hips, then you can help to keep your hips safe by activating your gluteus maximus muscles. Here too, muscle activation helps you to feel your hip joint. With your gluteus maximus (and other hip muscles active) you can adjust the way that you use your hips so that your hip joints feel comfortable.

Forward Bending Yoga Poses

Forward bend for the neck while standing. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Shoulderstand, a forward bend for the neck and upper thoracic spine. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Bending forwards in front triangle or pyramid pose with hands on a chair. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
Standing forward bend with one leg lifted. This is a forward bend for both legs. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Standing knee lift, a forward bend for the lifted knee hip. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Standing leg lift a forward bend for the lifted leg hip. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Standing knee lift, a forward bend for the lifted knee hip. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Deep squat, a forward bend for both hips with the knees bent. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Wide leg standing forward bend, bending forwards at the hips with hands on the floor.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Warrior 3 with lifted leg reaching back. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Forward bend for the spine on all fours with knees lifted, dog pose. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Forward bend for the spine in plank yoga pose. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Front to back splits, a forward bend for the front leg with hands on yoga blocks. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Bound angle forward bend for the hips with feet forwards, away from the pelvis. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Bound angleforward bend for the hips with feet close to the pelvis. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Plough pose, a forward bend for the neck, upper thoracic spine and hips. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Forward bend for the spine while sitting cross legged. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Forward bend for the spine using the abs while lying supine with arms and legs lifted, dead dog pose. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Seated forward bend for the hips with knees straight and arms reaching forwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Seated wide leg forward bend with hands lifted and arms reaching forwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Hurdlders stretch, bending forwards towards the straight leg. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Triange muka ekapada paschimotanasana, a forward bend for the hip with one leg in hero. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Janu sirsasana A, positioning the foot prior to bending forwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Marichyasana A, a forward bend for both hips, with one knee straight.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Wide leg forward bend to one leg. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Pigeon pose bent forwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Half bound lotus, binding the foot prior to bending forwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Lotus pose with knees to the chest, forward bending the hips. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

The above shown Yoga forward bends include various forward bends for the spine and the hips. Some of these, like half bound lotus forward bend, are binding poses. Some, like plough and shoulder stand, are inverted. There's also a mix of standing and seated poses here. But in all of them, there is a forward bending aspect.

Arm Supported Yoga Poses

Arm Supported Yoga Poses: Reverse plank with hips lifted using glutes, spine bent backwards using spinal erectors. Shoulders active also. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Arm Suported Yoga Poses: Table top yoga pose with hips lifted, lumbar spine bent backwards, glutes activated to lift hips. Shoulders active also. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Arm Supported Yoga Poses: Dangle Pose. Hips and feet lifted. Abs and hip flexors engaged to pull knees towards chest. Shoulders activet to support upper body. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Arm Supported Yoga Poses: Downward Facing Dog. Torso pushed back using hands. Elbows straight. Head in line with torso. Gaze directed back and down. Knees straight, Knees straight. Feet flat on the floor. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Arm Supported Yoga Poses: Dolphin Pose. Elbows bent with forearms on the floor. Ribcage pushed back and upwards away from elbows. Head in line with torso, with gaze directed back and down towards the feet. Knees slightly bent, forefeet on the floor with heels lifted. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Arm Supported Yoga Poses: Dog Pose. On all fours with elbows straight, knees bent and knees slightly lifted off of floor. Shoulders active. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Arm Supported Yoga Poses: Plank Pose. Body supported by hands and feet with knees and elbows straight. Torso inline with legs. Wrists positioned under shoulders. Gaze directed slightly forwards and downwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Arm Supported Yoga Poses: Chaturanga Dandasana or yoga push up. Body supported by hands and feet with knees straight and legs inline with torso. Elbows bent approximately 90 degrees with wrists slightly ahead of the elbows. Gaze directed slightly forwards and downwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Arm Supported Yoga Poses: Bird dog Bow Pose variation. Body supported on same side hand and shin. Elbows straight. Hand grabbing same side ankle with hip extended and lifted knee bent. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Arm supported yoga poses: Side Plank. Body supported by same side arm and leg. Arms and elbows straight. Body in line with bottom supporting leg. Top leg lifted with toe grabbed by top side arm. Gaze directed upwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

Arm supported yoga poses are those where the arms are used to support some portion of the weight of your body. These poses can be used to strengthen the arms and shoulders.

Note that the positions included here include positions with arms in front of the body (Dog, plank, Chaturanga, Bird Dog), behind it (Reverse Plank and Table Top), reaching past the head (Downward Dog and Dolphin) and to the side (Side Plank).

The arm supported poses where one hand is grabbing a foot or big toe could also be considered as binding yoga poses.

How do you prevent wrist pain when doing arm supported yoga poses?

One suggestion for dealing with wrist pain in arm supported yoga poses is to make sure that you are using your shoulders. Generally that means controlling and stabilizing your scapula.

Another simple trick is to focus on spreading and lengthening your fingers. This simple action tends to stiffen the fingers as well as the palm and wrists. The muscle tension thus generated can help support the wrist joint. Note, do this action in combination controlling your shoulder blades.

You can also read some suggestions here in Wrist pain in crow pose.

Kneeling Yoga Poses

Kneeling yoga poses are those where one or both shins are on the floor with the knees bent and with some portion of the weight of the body being supported by the shin(s) or knee(s) in question. Kneeling poses also include the "hero" foot position. This is where the foot (and shin) are positioned to the outside of the thigh.

The kneeling or semi-kneeling yoga pose above include twisting yoga poses as well as side bending yoga poses. Forward and backward bends are also included.

Two balancing yoga poses have been included in this section since they are similiar to kneeling poses.

How do you get comfortable kneeling?

A simple way to get comfortable with kneeling is to activate your toes and ankles. Try pressing your toes or tops of your feet into the floor while kneeling.

How do you keep your knees safe in hero pose?

Hero pose (also known as Virasana) is a type of kneeling position where your buttucks sink to the floor between your heels.

In this kneeling yoga pose, you can help keep your knees safe by activating your toes or ankles. You can also help keep them safe by activating your quadriceps and/or hamstrings. You could also experiment with activating your calf muscles.

Belly Down or Prone Yoga Poses

Prone Yoga Poses: Bow Pose. Lying on the belly, spine is bent backwards. Hands are grabbing the same side angles. Elbows are straight. Shoulders are active with arms and legs working against each other. Gaze is forwards and down. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Prone yoga poses: Frog Pose. In this version of frog pose the belly is on the floor. One arm is being used to support the upper body with the forearm on the floor. Spine is bent backwards. The other hand is placed on top of the same side foot and is pressing it  down towards the floor in a position that looks like an upside down hero pose. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Prone yoga poses: Forward bending pigeon with hip raised. In this version of pigeon the front shin is almost parallel with the front of an imaginary mat. Hips are lifted and level right to left. Back knee is straight. Torso is hinged forwards at the hips and both forearms are on the floor, helping to support the upper body. Gaze is downwards and slightly forwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga poses.
Prone yoga poses: Prone big toe half split. Lying belly down, one leg is positioned to the rear. The other leg is out to the side with the inner edge of the foot close to the floor. You could grab the big toe in this pose but in the picture the edge of the foot is being held by the same side hand. Chin and chest are on the floor with gaze directed slightly forwards as well as downwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Prone Yoga Poses: half split. This pose can be used to stretch the adductors or as a preparation for full side splits. One knee is bent with shin on the floor. The other knee is straight with the foot flat on the floor. Elbows are bent with the forearms on the floor helping to support the body. The distance between straight knee foot and bent knee is gradually increased while holding this yoga poses. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses
Prone Yoga Poses: prone twist. Knees and hips are bent to 90 degrees. Legs are together with one leg on top of the other. Torso is twisted relative to the legs so that the chest is on the floor. Arms are out to the sides with elbows bent at 90 degrees. Gaze is in the direction of twist. However you can start by looking in the opposite direction, since it places less stress on the neck. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Prone yoga poses: lapasana shoulder stretch. Starting on the belly with one arm to the side, torso is rolled towards opposite side so that straigth arm shoulder is stretched.  Knees are bent with feet on the floor. Opposite hip is sinking towards the floor helping to drive a spinal twist. Gaze is forwards and up. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Prone yoga poses: half dragonfly shoulder stretch. Lying prone, one arm is placed across the upper chest/throat region. Opposite side of the body sinks down to stretch the shoulder of the chest crossing arm. Other arm is by side. Gaze is towards the hand of the arm being stretched. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Prone yoga poses: prone resting position. lying prone, legs are spread slightly with knees pointing outwards. Chin is resting on the back of both hands. This is a resting pose. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga poses.

Belly down or prone yoga poses are those where the body is positioned so that the belly faces downwards. You could be supporting the torso using arms or legs, or the belly can be in direct contact with the floor. Some of the belly down positions can be used as shoulder stretches. In one case, the shoulder stretch starts from a belly down position, but then as you enter the pose, the belly ends up facing the side, or even upwards.

Prone yoga poses (or belly down poses) include some backbending poses as well as poses that could be considered binding poses since hands are used to grab feet or ankles. In general, the prone yoga poses here can be used for stretching and strengthening quads, hip flexors, outer hips, adductors, spinal twists and shoulder stretches. Note that these poses can combine stretching and strengthening when you resist the stretch by activating the muscles you are trying to stretch.

The final poses shown above is a resting pose.

Should you rest in between doing yoga poses?

Resting is generally included at the end of a yoga class. However, it can be a good idea to rest in between poses. This doesn't mean looking at your phone though. It means simply being still whether standing or sitting or as shown above, lying prone on your belly. In this case resting can be a chance to observe the effects of the pose that you've just done. It can also be a chance to think about things you can change if you repeat the pose. Resting between poses can also simply be a chance to realize that the pose actually wasn't that bad.

Arm Balances

Arm balances: Bakasana or crow pose.
Arm Balances: tittibasana or fire fly.
Arm Balances: eka pada koundinyasana or flying splits arm balance. Modified. Both knees are bent.
Arm Balances: eka pada koundinyasana or flying splits arm balance. Both knees are straight.
Arm balances: astavakrasana. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga poses.
Arm balances: eka pada bakasana 1. Shin is resting on the back of one arm. Other leg is straight and resting on the back of the other arm. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga poses.
Arm balances: eka pada bakasana 2. Shin is resting on the back of one arm. Other leg is straight and reaching rearwards and upwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga poses.
Arm balances: galavasana. One shin is resting across the backs of both upper arms. Other leg is reaching back and up. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga poses.

Arm balances are yoga poses where the weight of the body is supported by the body. They include yoga poses with names like galavasana, eka pada bakasana and astavakrasana.

Handstand is not included in this group of poses because arm balances tend to have one or both legs in contact with the arms. In this regard, because of the inter-body contact, arm balances could be thought of as being similar to binding yoga poses.

One pose that sort of breaks the rules for arm balancing (in that the waist rests on the arms, not the legs) is mayurasana.

Note that arm balances for the most part could also be thought of as belly down yoga poses since the belly does face downwards in most arm balancing yoga poses.

I can't lift my legs when doing arm balances. What should I do?

One of the most common difficulties with arm balances is lifting the legs or legs. In most, if not all, cases, the solution is simple. Shift your weight forwards! So that you don't crash your face into the floor, shift forwards slowly. Notice when your leg is only "lightly touching the floor". That's a signal that your weight is over your hands and that generally means that you should then be able to lift your leg or legs. Or they might just lift automatically.

Supine Yoga Poses

Supine Yoga poses, bridge pose prep: lordosing lumbar spine, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses, supine hip flex active, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses, bridge pose prep; lordosing lumbar spine, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses, supine hip flex and hip extension, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses, bridge pose, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses, wheel pose prep, everse push up neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses, dog pose reach, supine ab exercises, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses,wheel pose push up, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses, wheel pose, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses, supine side splits, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses, supine bound angle, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses, happy baby hip stretch, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses: supine hamstring stretch with leg to the side. neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
supine, rolling into plow pose, neil  keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Supine Yoga poses, rolling sit up,  neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.

Supine yoga poses are poses where the belly faces upwards. As you can see above, that includes poses that are supported by the arms and/or legs as well as others. Supine yoga poses can be used to strengthen the abs (by bending upwards) as well as the spinal erectors (by bending the spine backwards).

Note that there are both bound and unbound variations of some poses. With unbound poses you use muscles intrinsic to the joint. When binding, you use muscles that aren't necessarily intrinsic to the joint being worked on.

Is there an advantage to not binding in poses where you can bind?

If you do a non-binding version of a pose you'll be training muscles that otherwise might not be trained if you only focus on the binding version of the same pose.

Binding Poses

Preparation position for Marichyasana B. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
Ardha matsyendrasana yoga pose,  Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
Half Bound lotus, standing forward bend. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
Ardha matsyendrasana yoga pose,  Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
Ardha matsyendrasana yoga pose,  Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
Preparation position for Marichyasana B. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
Marichyasana C. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
binding in seated half bound yoga pose.
binding yoga poses: marichyasana B.
bharadvajasana
Binding yoga poses: compass yoga Pose prep.
binding yoga poses; compass yoga Poses

Binding yoga poses are those where either one hand grabs the some part of the opposite arm, or it grabs a foot or shin.

In binding poses like the marichyasana series you wrap an arm around a bend leg in the process of grabbing the wrist of the opposite hand.

When doing a binding yoga pose, you can use the muscles of the binding limbs against each other. It's worth noting that because of the way that you connect limbs when binding, the muscular strengthening action when binding is different than when doing a similar shaped pose that isn't bound. For this reason it can be worthwhile to practice both binding poses and poses that are similar in shape but non-binding.

Seated Yoga Poses

bound angle with feet wide.
One option for a seated side bend is to sit with legs wide, knees straight and bend to one side. In this case both arms are reaching past the head adding weight to the stretch. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Hamstring stretches, wide leg forward bend. In this wide leg forward bend feet are a legs distance apart from side to side with feet parallel and knees straight. Upper body is tilted forwards with torso almost horizontal. Both arms are reaching forwards with hands off of the floor. Gaze is downwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
Seated yoga poses, navasana, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
seated yoga poses: table top yoga pose, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
seated yoga poses: reverse plank yoga pose, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
janu sirsasana a with head to shin and hand on the floor either side of the straight leg. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoa Poses.
Getting into Janu Sirsasana B seated yoga pose, Using hands to lift the hips and place anus on top of the bent knee heel.
janu sirsasana C, in this picture torso is upright with spine long. Foot is against the inner thigh with heel uppermost and toes tucked towards the knee. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
If you are flexibility impaired, then one option for janu sirsasana side bend is to bend the knee of the leg you are bending towards. If you find that you tend to tip backwards you can also place the hand on the floor to the outside of the upward pointing knee. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
One option for a seated side bend is to sit with legs wide, with one knee straight and the other knee bent with the shin folded to the outside of the thigh (hero position). Bend towards the straight leg to stretch the side of the torso. In this case the top hand grabs the foot of the straight leg with the uppermost side of the ribcage rolling back. The lower shoulder is to the inside of the leg and pressing back against the leg.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
triang muka eka pada paschimottanasana with hand grabbing wrist. three quarter front angle
reclining half hero pose (ardha supta virasana), arms behind head
Hurdlers, bending towards the straight leg. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.
hurdlers stretch inner thigh stretch bending forwards with hands on the floor between the legs
intense pigeon yoga pose, reaching shoulder towards front foot, neil keleher sensational yoga poses.
double pigeon yoga pose leaning forward
glute stretch, hip stretch, yoga pose, glute stretch
bent back hero pose. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.
In seated forward bend, you can sit with legs parallel and knees straight. Tilting forwards at the hips, make the spine long (from tailbone to crown) and reach the arms forwards. Make arms and legs and spine all feel long. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

Seated yoga poses are those where one or both buttocks are on the ground and supporting body weight. One exception to this general rule is janusirsasana b where you actually place your perineum atop the heel of one foot. Based on this rule of the buttocks being on the floor, some kneeling poses could also be considered as seated poses.

One way to differentiate seated poses from kneeling poses is that in seated yoga poses where one or both knees are bent, the shin is positioned towards the inside of the thigh as in lotus pose and the janusirsasana c yoga pose.

Cross Leg Poses

Cross legged poses are also seated poses. One recommendation for cross legged yoga poses is to practice the position with either leg in front.

Yoga Poses using a wall

If you have limited flexibility, or need an easier way to do yoga poses, one special category of yoga poses is yoga poses using a wall.

Spinal Twisting Yoga Poses

Twisting Poses involve a twist of the spine. That means turning one vertebrae relative to another. It also means turning the ribcage relative to the pelvis and the head relative to the ribcage.

One thing to consider when doing twists is to anchor the base of your spine. That can mean stabilizing your legs if standing, or stabilizing your hips while sitting. That being said, you could also work at stabilizing your legs (as well as your hips) while doing seated twists.

If you are twisting while supine or prone, generally your turn your pelvis relative to your ribcage. In this case, you could work at stabilizing your upper body. However, to make your lumbar spine more comfortable you might choose to stabilize your hips and lower back, especially if using the weight of your legs to drive the twist.

While you can use your arms to help drive a twist, particularly while seated, I'd suggest learning to activate your spinal muscles and using them to generate a spinal twist. As mentioned, muscle activation tends to give you sensation. If you activate your spinal muscles while twisting, they'll not only help you twist your spine, but then you can use them to help drive the twist.

Inverted Yoga Poses

Inverted yoga poses are yoga poses where you turn your body upside down. This can include standing on your head in some version of headstand, balancing on your hands in handstand, your forearms in forearm stand or even on the back of your head and shoulders in shoulder stand or plough pose.

To get used to giving your body the support it needs you can use a wall to begin with. Once you are used to being upside down in these poses while supported, then work towards balancing in them.

Yoga Poses Sequences and Routines

For a basic sequence of yoga poses, check out Basic Yoga Sequence, Basic Yoga Sequence 2, and Basic Yoga Sequence 3.

Ashtanga Yoga Poses

Ashtanga yoga is made up of different series of yoga poses. For the primary series, Ashtanga yoga has links to descriptions of most of the poses in this series of poses.

Alphabetical Yoga Poses

Links to poses sorted alphabetically by name are included in the alphabetical yoga poses page.