7 Feel-Good Modifications for the Most Popular Yoga Poses

There's always a way to make a yoga pose fit your body — not the other way around.
Image Credit: Natalia Tabilo/LIVESTRONG.com Creative

The 30-Day Yoga Challenge progresses from foundational poses to more complex asanas with variations and modifications for every body. Get all the details on the challenge here.

Yoga has a reputation for being only for the super-bendy. But the truth is, yoga isn't only about how flexible you are (phew!) — there's usually a way to adjust a pose to make it work for you.

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That's one of the reasons we teamed up with Natalia Tabilo, yoga teacher and creator of Yoga for All Bodies, for our 30-Day Yoga Challenge. For each of the poses below (and all the others in the challenge), she offers modifications and variations for some of the most common yoga poses, like downward-facing dog and child's pose.

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Though the seven yoga poses listed below are meant to be part of that month-long plan, you can try them whenever you need a good stretch or a moment to recenter. And don't feel limited to just these variations: Play around with positioning and props to find a way to make each pose feel best for your body.

If you're following along with the 30-Day Yoga Challenge, aim to hold each pose for 30 to 60 seconds, breathing in and out through your nose, at least twice a day.

1. Cat-Cow Pose (Chakravakasana)

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Start on all fours, wrists under shoulders and knees under hips.
  2. On an inhale, drop your belly toward the floor as you arch your back.
  3. On an exhale, round your back up to the ceiling.
  4. Slowly repeat this pattern back and forth on each inhale and exhale.

Variations

You can do this pose seated or with your forearms on a bolster or blocks.

2. Bird Dog

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Start on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Brace your abs as you extend your right arm out by your right ear and your left leg out behind you. Your leg and arm should make a straight line through your torso.
  3. Hold for 1 to 5 seconds.
  4. Trying not to shift through your torso or hips, lower your arm and leg and repeat on the other side. Imagine trying to balance a cup of water on your lower back during the entire exercise.
  5. Continue alternating sides.

Variations

Extend one leg and your opposite arm, but leave your toes and fingertips on the ground. Then, lift one or both limbs fully off the ground. You can also lift one limb at a time: right arm, then left arm, then left leg, then right leg.

3. Child's Pose (Balasana)

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Kneel on the floor with your hips over your knees.
  2. Separate your knees about hip-width apart and bring your big toes to touch.
  3. Lower your body to rest your glutes on your heels.
  4. Exhale and bring your chest down toward your mat, elongating your neck and spine and stretching your tailbone toward the floor.
  5. Stretch your arms out in front of you and rest your forehead on the mat.

Variations

Stretch your arms long but keep your forearms down and head up, or use a bolster or folded blanket for support. You can also try lying on your back and pulling your feet toward your chest with a strap.

4. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. From kneeling, step your right foot back into a low lunge. Your feet should be hip-width apart on separate tracks (they shouldn't line up front to back). Your toes should point forward.
  2. Keep your spine long by lifting your heart and extending the crown of your head away from your tailbone.
  3. Allow your hips to shift forward and down. Notice where you feel sensation through your hip region.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.

Variations

You can place your hands on blocks on either side of your front foot, rest them on your front thigh or keep them in prayer position. For a deeper stretch, raise your arms up overhead.

5. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Start on all fours, with your weight in your hands and knees.
  2. Tuck your toes under and lift your knees as you push back into your heels.
  3. Your legs should be hip-width apart. Your arms should be at shoulder width, fingers spread wide.
  4. Pull your belly toward your spine, and press your hips back to sink your heels down.
  5. Stay here for 30 seconds before slowly lowering down to all fours or child’s pose.

Variations

Place your hands on blocks or the seat of a chair.

6. Plank

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Start on your hands and knees with your shoulders stacked above your wrists and your hips directly above your knees.
  2. Step your right foot back and then your left foot to balance on your hands and toes. Your body should form a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Tuck your pelvis in to engage your core and squeeze your glutes.
  3. Hold this position while maintaining a neutral spine.

Variations

Drop your knees down to the floor or place your hands on blocks.

7. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Place a small pillow or rolled-up blanket under your head and/or a bolster under your knees if you want.
  3. Find length through your lower back and relax your pelvis and hips.
  4. Let your arms rest by your sides with your palms facing up.
  5. Breathe with ease and relax every part of your body.

Variations

Lie back with a bolster under your knees or lie on your side or belly. You can also try sitting in a chair resting your back on a bolster and your feet on a block.

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