Ancient yoga tradition describes thousands -- and by some accounts, tens of thousands -- of yoga postures. But chances are, with your likely packed schedule, fitting in enough time to practice even a fraction of those postures is nearly impossible. Most of us, however, can find 10 minutes a day in a quiet place to practice a few of them. In fact, even 10 minutes a day can help you reap the benefits of yoga, including increased strength and flexibility, more energy, improved respiration, enhanced cardiovascular and circulatory health, improved sports performance, injury prevention and lower stress levels. You can always progress to include more and different poses in your practice, but start by doing these 10 essential poses, and then add to your asana arsenal as time and your body allow.
1) Malasana ( Garland Pose )
This beautiful squat is one of our all-time favorite poses. Malasana releases the lower back, opens the hips, and turns the practitioner into a cute little nugget. Explore variations and tips on how to make this pose easier or how to go deeper.
2) Chaturanga Dandasana ( Four-Limbed Staff Pose )
Chaturanga is one of the most common postures in Vinyasa yoga—but also one of the most abused. Students tend to rush this pose, cheating its alignment, which with repetition can lead to injury.
3) Utthita Trikonasan ( Extended Triangle Post )
Trikonasana. Such a classic standing pose! We live in a world where standing poses are often ignored, but this one is part of my regular practice come rain or shine. It is a glorious way to release your lower back, strengthen your core, and expand your body (and mind).
4) Crescent Pose, aka High Lunge
I can’t imagine a yoga practice without this perfect standing pose. Crescent Lunge my go-to for opening my hips and psoas, encouraging space in my chest, and feeling powerful on my feet.
5) Parivrtta Utkatasana ( Revolved Chair Pose )
I know Chair isn’t the most popular pose in the world, but this is why it’s on the list. It’s a great foundational pose to teach us how to twist safely. If you can learn the mechanics of a twist here, you’ll be safer in more advanced postures.
6) Sirsasana II ( Tripod Headstand )
Inversions are a magical group of postures that reverses our perspective and give us a strong dose of empowerment. Tripod Headstand is one of the easier inversions to balance because of the large foundation. It’s also fantastic to understand if you want to move into advanced transitions such as lowering into arm balances.
7) Salamba Setu Bandha Sarvangasana ( Supported Bridge Pose )
This is my happy place. Funny enough, traditional Bridge Pose makes me crazy. Add a block under the lower back and voilà—I could stay there for hours with a smile on my face. This is a great modification for Shouderstand and a relaxing way to release the front body and release the spine.
8) Ustrasana ( Camel Pose )
Camel is a love-hate pose for many people. The key is to trigger all of the proper alignment in the body to keep the lower back supported and the neck happy. The beauty lies in the fact that there are so many variations.
9) Janu Sirsasana ( Head-to-Knee forward Bend )
This one may seem random, but I have affection for it going all the way back to my Ashtanga days. This fabulous forward fold releases the calf and hamstring of the straight leg with the added benefit of opening the hip of the bent-knee leg. It also teaches the student to notice the effects of small nuances, such as squaring the chest with the straight-leg knee.
9) Viparita Karani ( Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose )
This is such a glorious pose and great for all levels of students! Leg-Up-the-Wall is the best way to relax after a long day or practice on your feet. It drains the legs and is also a fantastic posture if you struggle with insomnia.