As a yoga instructor I am always asked this question. “What are the top 10 top most yoga poses?” It is very difficult to put together this list if you really analyze all of the poses. I believe that all yoga poses have their own unique benefits and are all valuable. Let’s narrow this down to my top 10 most COMMON yoga poses so that any yoga practitioner regardless of level can relate to this. I made it so my list can be considered a complete workout already. I have concluded all the four starting positions (standing, seated, lying down and inverted) plus the four directions (forward, backward, lateral and twisting) we move into during an asana. These poses are familiar to any yoga practitioner.
Not only did I consider the physical benefit of an asana in putting together this list but also included yoga’s wonderful lessons. We can know that a lot of the names of the yoga poses are derived from nature like animals or from the environment. These names are there to help us envision the feeling we are trying to achieve when doing a certain asana. It can also represent a positive characteristic or trait. There are more examples in What is the meaning behind your favorite yoga pose.
Here is my version of my Top 10 Most Common Yoga poses and what it represents.
1. Warrior pose – Strength – Warriors are often thought of being powerful. Being true to its name, the warrior pose promises to strength you from your core to your extremities (arms and legs) This pose when held for a few breathes can leave you feel strong for it works on almost all of your major large muscles.
2. Tree pose – Tolerance and Focused – Every time a see a tree, I can’t help but admire its tolerance. Every day, it is subject to extreme heat and heavy rain, yet it tolerates all that and always ready to offer its shade as protection. A tree being blown by the strong wind reminds tolerant. Similarly, when we practice this pose, no matter where and how strong our minds take us, we should remain focused. Balancing poses require a great deal of concentration. The tree pose trains your mind to focus.
3. Mountain pose – Steadiness and Awareness -The greatness of a mountain comes from its steadiness. The mountain pose is very grounding. It is practiced with no movement involved just like the mountain that keeps still. This is to make it so that we can become aware of the subtle energy flowing in our bodies. These moments of steadiness and stillness are very rare in this fast paced modern life we live in. We must learn to stop, be still and become aware of the things around us.
4. Downward Facing Dog pose – Fun and Challenging –As a dog wakes up in the morning, it stretches and warms up and the next thing he is up for fun. It may seem a bit challenging in the beginning. For me, it is a fun way to warm up. Stretches the hip, shoulders and legs.
5. Triangle – Lengthen and Align –A lateral stretch is the most unusual move we do in our daily lives. It is often neglected. But is very important to move the spine side to side. The triangle or the 3 angles makes you work on the angles on your hip, shoulder and leg. Each of these angles must be lengthened and aligned.
6. The sage pose – Light and Warmth – The sage’s name is Marichi which literally means a ray of light (of the sun or moon). When you do a twisting pose the effect is similar to like bathing in the sea. As you release from a twist, your body should feel a warm wave of energy flowing into to your internal organs. Twisting will release and squeeze all the impurities from your body.
7. Cobra – Flexibility and Effortlessness. We all know that cobras don’t have spines. Their moves are graceful. The cobra pose works on the flexibly of your spine, relieving you of all the tension. When your spine is flexible and tension free, we can move with ease.
8. Headstand – Open- Mindedness – Standing on your head, being up-side down is the perfect way to open your mind. Being inverted is may been seen as not normal. If it’s your first time it may seem like you are not under control. The goal is to get to the point where you have an open mind and know that you have full control therefore you are ready to try a new perspective.
9. Lotus – Peaceful and Undisturbed – Like the lotus is untouched by the dirt in the pond, a person in meditation is not affected by distractions from the physical body. The lotus pose has been practiced by yogis from time in memorial during their mediation. When you meditate, your focus should not be on your physical bodies. Therefore, seated in the lotus position is the ideal. Standing pose will make you tired and you won’t last. Lie down will just make as fall asleep.10. Savasana – Surrender – When we practice this pose, there are no hard or fast rules and regulations. The only thing is to letting go off all the anxiety, stress and fear. Only then can you feel the full benefit of the asana.