7 Intermediate Yoga Poses to Take Your Practice to the Next Level

Bolsters are a great way to make yoga poses more comfortable on your joints.
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.

Once you've mastered child's pose and mountain pose (that deceptively simple-looking asana that calls for full-body awareness and alignment), you might be wondering what's next on your yoga journey.

Below are seven slightly more advanced yoga poses from Natalia Tabilo, yoga teacher, creator of Yoga for All Bodies and host of our 30-Day Yoga Challenge, that require strength, balance and mobility but are also completely customizable.

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Tabilo offers a variety of modifications and variations for each pose in the videos below to help you find exactly what works for your body. But you can also play around with positioning and props to find your perfect pose.

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. But you can do any of these yoga poses as part of a regular practice or on their own whenever you'd like.

Pose 1: Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Step your left foot back into a lunge, turning your left toes out so they point to the side of the mat, and lower your left heel to the floor.
  2. Keep your stance long and ensure that your right knee is bent above, or slightly behind, the right ankle.
  3. Exhale and lower your right arm so your forearm rests on your right thigh or your palm rests on a block or two.
  4. Reach your left hand toward the ceiling as you extend your left arm overhead. Your left biceps should be over your right ear.
  5. Keeping your chest, hips and legs in one straight line, turn your head to look up at your extended arm. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.

Variations

Perform this pose seated on a chair. You can also rest your forearm on your thigh.

Pose 2: Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Stand with your feet 3 to 5 feet apart and keep them parallel.
  2. Place your hands on your hips and lengthen your spine with an inhale.
  3. Bend forward with an exhale, keeping your spine long. Bring your fingertips or palms to the floor.
  4. Relax your neck and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
  5. Bring your hands to your hips and engage your back muscles. Inhale and slowly rise with a flat back.

Variations

Stand with your feet closer together. You can also place your hands on blocks or on the seat of a chair in front of you. To deepen the stretch, walk your hands back until they're in line with your feet.

Pose 3: Shoulder Strap Work

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Stand holding a yoga strap with one end in each hand a little wider than shoulder-distance apart.
  2. Hold your arms out in front of your chest, then circle your arms overhead and behind your back.
  3. Only go as far as your shoulder mobility allows. Whether it's slightly in front of you or back behind you, honor the way your body moves.

Variations

You can do your shoulder strap work seated on your mat or in a chair or while standing. You can also stretch without a strap if that's more comfortable.

Pose 4: Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  2. Place your right foot on your ankle, shin or inner thigh (but not on your knee).
  3. Square your hips forward and bring your hands to prayer position in front of your chest or above your head.

Variations

Try resting your foot on a block or your knee on the seat of a chair.

Pose 5: Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. From all fours, extend your right leg straight behind you as you walk your left foot toward your right hand so your left shin is parallel to the front of the mat.
  2. Keep your foot flexed as you sit back to stretch your outer hip. Breathe deeply as you come to your end range of motion.

Variations

Sit on a chair with both feet on the floor. Cross your left foot on top of your right knee and fold over your left shin, using a bolster or folded blanket (or both) for support. If you're on the floor, you can use a bolster for support under your hips.

Pose 6: Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Stand tall and on an inhale, raise both of your hands overhead, keeping your arms straight and lengthening your spine.
  2. Exhale and bend your knees, leaning your upper body forward so that it's at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Keep your lower back straight.
  3. Relax your calf muscles, allowing the weight of your upper body to sink into your pelvis. Transfer your weight into your heels.

Variations

Only bend as deeply into the pose as you can while maintaining your balance. Consider resting your hands on your thighs or hips, holding them in prayer position at heart center or raising them above your head. You also have the option to do this pose from the seat of an actual chair.

Pose 7: Seated Spinal Twist (Bharadvajasana)

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Skill Level All Levels
Activity Yoga
  1. Inhale and sit up tall, engaging the pelvic floor and lifting the breast bone while being mindful not to hyperextend your back.
  2. On an inhale, reach your arms up overhead.
  3. With an exhale, twist to the left by turning your ribcage, shoulders and head and look over your left shoulder. Place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand behind you.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Variations

You can do this pose sitting in a chair or on your mat.

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