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Top Ten Yoga Positions

author image Clarissa Adkins
Clarissa Adkins is a freelance writer and registered yoga teacher. With a Bachelor of Arts in English and a creative writing concentration from James Madison University, she has written and continues to write articles about healthy lifestyles and yoga for various online publications.
Top Ten Yoga Positions
A less known position: pose dedicated to the sage koundinya, or eka pada koundiyanasana. Photo Credit yoga pose image by chinatiger from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Yoga instructors and yoga schools may differ on their top 10 yoga positions. Across yoga disciplines, you can find some poses that occur often, even if instructors teach them with arm variations or different cues. Try yoga classes in some of the most common styles such as Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram, Anusara, Forrest and Integral to see which popular poses appeal to you the most.

Mountain Pose or Tadasana

Top Ten Yoga Positions
Mountain pose is more than standing still. Photo Credit arts martiaux 24 image by Nathalie P from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

You can practice mountain pose in between other poses or use it alone to improve posture, according to "Yoga Journal." In many yoga sequences, you return to mountain pose before continuing to the next segment of postures. Focus on your core muscles when you hold mountain.

Standing Forward Bend or Uttanasana

Top Ten Yoga Positions
Keep your hips over your feet. Photo Credit yoga pose utanasana, forward bend image by Susan Rae Tannenbaum from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Use standing forward bend to release tension, stress and fatigue. Think of this pose as more than just trying to touch your toes. If you let your knees bend, you can help your spine to elongate.

Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana

Top Ten Yoga Positions
Use your back before your hands as you lift your chest up. Photo Credit stretch image by BVDC from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Famous yoga instructor Rodney Yee lists cobra as one of the top 10 essential poses. Use cobra to warm up and strengthen your back muscles. Rather than trying to lift your chest entirely off the floor, focus on keeping your shoulders down and your elbows to your sides.

Downward-Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana

Top Ten Yoga Positions
In downward-facing dog, the body forms a mountain shape with hips as the peak. Photo Credit mountain peak image by Maxim Denissov from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Downward-facing dog is another go-between pose and staple in many yoga styles. Your hands and feet are roughly four or five feet apart. The hips rise up. Become aware of your body being stretched in every direction.

Warrior Two or Virabhadrasana II

Top Ten Yoga Positions
Bring awareness into your back leg. Photo Credit yoga 12 image by pdesign from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Warrior poses include warrior one, two, three, reverse warrior and sometimes extended side angle. Warrior two stretches the legs and opens the hips. Keep your front knee over your ankle to stay in alignment.

Triangle or Utthita Trikonasana

Top Ten Yoga Positions
Try triangle pose to relieve sciatica pain. Photo Credit yoga pose image by chinatiger from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Triangle is both aesthetically interesting and physically rewarding. "Yoga Journal" recommends using triangle pose to relieve stress and backaches, and to stretch the hips, groin, shoulders and hamstrings. Most yoga styles refer to this pose as triangle, but its full name is extended triangle pose.

Tree Pose or Vrkasana

Top Ten Yoga Positions
Keep your foot above or below the knee. Photo Credit Yoga on a lawn in the summer image by Arkady Chubykin from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Yoga includes numerous poses that require balancing on one foot, and tree is one of the most widely taught and practiced. Many students try stepping off the yoga mats for poses such as tree so they feel more grounded. You can also try using the wall or a chair as support.

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose or Ardha Matsyendrasana

Top Ten Yoga Positions
Your twist should still feel comfortable when you inhale. Photo Credit yoga twist image by Susan Rae Tannenbaum from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Twists improve mobility in the spine, aid digestion and help to remove toxins from the organs. Baby Center advises pregnant women not to go too deep in twists. During pregnancy, women should twist gently from the shoulders. In half lord of the fishes pose, you can bring your elbow to the outside of your opposite knee for deeper sensation.

Supported Headstand

Top Ten Yoga Positions
Bear weight on your forearms and the crown of your head. Photo Credit headstand image by Paty Cullen Wingrove from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

In supported headstand, the hands cradle the back of the head. Students should have strong control and awareness of their core muscles before trying headstand. Practice headstand against a wall or in a corner to build confidence.

Relaxation or Savasana

Top Ten Yoga Positions
Try to end your yoga practice with at least five to 10 minutes of relaxation. Photo Credit relaxing woman #11 image by Adam Borkowski from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

Students practice savasana at the end of yoga classes in nearly every style of hatha yoga, which is the yoga of physical practice. In savasana, students learn to relax the entire body, as well as the mind. Yogis often find it challenging to achieve one of relaxation's goals, which is to be aware without focusing on anything.

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