Five Total-Body Yoga Poses

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It could be argued that all poses in yoga are full-body poses. The great thing about the yoga practice is that it certainly encourages the body to work as one. The key for me is to centre my body so I have a solid foundation, as this allows my poses to have more balance, grace and effectiveness.

*Note: I am NOT a yoga teacher. I compiled this list after extensive research and discussion with friends who are yoga teachers. It is, however, a subjective list. There are plenty of challenging, total-body yoga poses. These are just five that I picked as good ones to work on that challenge as many muscles as possible.

Remember that strengthening the whole body doesn’t always mean that all muscles have to be active at once. If you make an effort to activate the muscles as they are being stretched, this will help to strengthen them also. Thus, a pose like Downward Facing Dog (in my list below) can easily be a whole body workout in one, despite being used a rest pose in flow classes.

  • Eagle pose – stretches upper body and strengthens lower. The tourniquet action of your body twisting in this pose allows for fresh blood to flow (when the pose is released) to areas of your body that were constricted in the pose. This is why teachers often really recommend this pose for those with arthritis or rheumatism.

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  • Downward dog – strengthens arms, shoulders, back and provides a great leg stretch

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  • Warrior 3 – strengthens arms, shoulders, back, abs, legs.

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  • Crow pose – strengthens upper body and abs – I find my legs work hard here too, staying in position

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  • Bird of Paradise pose – strengthens lower body and abs – I find my arm muscles work in this position to stay binded

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Give these poses a try in your next at-home yoga practice (if you haven’t done one of them before, get the advice of a teacher first!).

QUESTIONS:

  • Are there any poses on this list you haven’t tried?
  • What yoga pose is your favourite?
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Comments

  1. Triangle pose is my favourite. I love how it stretches out my hamstrings. Crow pose is definitely one I’ll be trying though!

  2. I’ve only been to a couple of classes, but I really do love it. I have to be super careful though and only do “gentle” yoga b/c I have a very bad back. The twisting and contorting isn’t very good for it. Boo!
    PS. The last sentence in the 1st paragraph of your post isn’t complete! Sorry for pointing it out, but I’d want someone to tell me too!!! :/

  3. I have done all of these and do them weekly in hot power flow vinyasa that I take!!!

    I love the eagle’s pose, some days I am more stable than others in that pose 😉

    happy wednesday!!!

  4. I love yoga ❤ I have an app on my phone with tons of different yoga workouts that I've been using for over a year and I can't get enough of it. I think my two favourite poses (can't pick just one) are pigeon pose and downward facing dog. Both just feel soooo good in my leg muscles that end up feeling the sorest, and they always help stretch them out. Okay…now I'm craving yoga like I might crave chocolate 😛 Good post, Anna!

  5. I love downward dog. It’s a pose that many people think is so easy but there’s so much that goes into it

    • Definitely! And I still marvel at how a downward dog can feel like such agony at the start of a class and yet halfway through it is an absolute respite. How does that WORK? Either way, gotta love that pose!

  6. Sam @ Fit for my Fork says:

    I don’t think I could get my leg up into bird of paradise pose! Yikes! I do love eagle for the stretch through the shoulders.

    • Bird of paradise is tough but you can easily start out by just keeping your knee bent and your leg kinda hooked over your arms – it’s more about encouraging your hips to open, so if you feel like giving it a go do! I practise it in my bedroom where if I fall over no one’s looking ;). Though make sure to have something soft to fall onto lol!

  7. Oh I love this! I have never done Birds of Paradise pose, might have to try that next time i’m in the hot room 🙂 My favourite is standing bow, it’s a killer to try and do it for the full minute in Bikram but I really love it ! Eagle pose is great too, and Warrior 3 is amazing for the abs and arms 😉

    • Yeah Bird of Paradise is best done in a heated room because you’re so much more open! We’ve never done it in a hot yoga class but in flow we do it all the time and my yoga studio practises flow in a ‘warm’ room (not as hot as hot). It really helps!

  8. I have tried downward dog…and that’s about it. I’m still a relative yoga newby, and I’m trying to get into it without spending a crap-ton of money (which almost all studios cost) and also doing it right without hurting myself. I’ve actually been looking for a good dvd, although I’ve been told that’s not a good route to go, to go to a studio. Oh, I’m so overwhelmed…lol

    • Aw no! I do think it’s best to go to a studio, honestly, when you first start. The reason is that it is so easy to do poses just slightly wrong because there are a lot of subtle nuances to poses – that’s why I am still refining basic poses after 8 years! There’s so much to learn. If you start out doing them wrong, it becomes a bad habit that is hard to shake and can lead to injuries down the road. I started out doing DVDs and when I finally hit a studio I was hit with a reality check, and it was so much harder to re-learn poses! Hopefully you can find some Groupons or introductory deals that make it a bit cheaper? But take it slow, there’s tons of time! xxx

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  2. […] back into yoga – I have had 1-2 months off, as I was trying out other workouts and was not allowed to work out […]

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