Yoga is not just a form of exercise, it is a means of meditation and centering oneself. Yoga was founded in ancient India, in south Asia. Back then, yoga was almost always accompanied by local religions. As a result, people who practiced yoga extensively were usually devout Hindus or Buddhists. However, over time the benefits of yoga began to spread through word of mouth and it was adopted by large portions of the Indian population. From there, it expanded across the globe, to be adopted by secular fans.
While yoga has existed in Asia for centuries, it only really gained traction in the western world in the 1900s. It is popular because it is an easily adoptable form of low impact exercise that can benefit everyone, from the novice to the yoga master. Yoga has been proven to alleviate physical health issues like back pain, and also helps with several mental health conditions. Perhaps it is best known for poses that seem simple at times, but are actually complex and challenging.
There are countless yoga poses but this quiz contains a handful of the most iconic ones! So center yourself, and let's see if you know your downward dog from your lotus pose!
This powerful seated yoga pose helps increase flexibility in the hips and knees. In Hero Pose the buttocks are on the floor whiles the heels are alongside the hips. This pose is also one of the oldest postures used for meditation.
This is a meditative pose which can be a bit of a challenge for beginners. Seating on the legs reduces blood flow to that region and increases it in the digestive area which helps boost digestion and alleviate stomach ailments.
In this back-bending pose the heart is higher than the head and the chest is opened along with the shoulders. Bridge pose helps stretch the spine as well as the neck and back and is an ideal pose for someone who constantly seats at a desk or drives.
In this pose, the front of the body is stretched and it offers maximum health benefits such as relieving menstrual cramps and constipation, and it even has the ability to energize and reduce fatigue. This backbend is done with the leg in lotus but there are alternate variations for more experienced yoga practitioners.
Mountain pose resembles an individual simply standing. However, it is considered an active pose that is beneficial for balance and posture. Mountain pose is done with the feet placed together and arms at the side. Deep breathes help improve concentration in this pose and it can bring the mind and body a sense of calm focus.
Targeting muscles in the lower back, the Superhero pose is an excellent back strengthening pose. It is done by lying flat on the stomach with knees unbent and hands and feet outstretched and reaching forward with hands and feet, pulling at opposing directions.
This is an intermediate yoga pose that has the benefits of opening up the chest and entire front of the body. In bow pose, the pelvic area touches the floor whiles the hands move back to hold onto the ankles and the chest and head are raised. This powerful pose stretches the muscles in the front whiles simultaneously strengthening the back and improving posture.
This version of downward facing dog involves one leg being raised above the body. Three-legged dog pose can help in opening the hips. Benefits of this pose include strength building and energizing the nervous system.
This yoga pose is usually used as a resting position during more difficult poses as it helps stretch the hips and reduces stress and fatigue. Child pose is done by placing the knees apart on the mat and allowing the forehead to touch the mat, the hands are extended then tucked behind.
To do this yoga pose, from mountain pose, the knees are slightly bent and arms outstretched overhead and brought to the left then the right holding for 30– 60 seconds for each side. Standing pose will help increase flexibility in the arms and spine in addition to providing an overall stretch for the practitioner.
Cat pose is done with the hands and knees on the floor and a gentle arching of the back with the head facing downwards. This pose gears the body up for activity and is perfectly paired with cow pose, and offers a gentle flow bringing flexibility to the back and spine. Cat pose slows done breathing and has major benefits for the neck and back torso.
Lotus pose is an advanced pose that brings about benefits like stimulation of the pelvis, spine and bladder as well as easing menstrual discomfort. It requires open hips and flexibility and should be done after practicing plenty of poses that help with the opening of the hips. Performing this pose during late pregnancy is said to lead to ease of childbirth.
This beginning back bending pose helps significantly with preparing the body for deeper backbends. Cobra pose is an essential part of the Sun Salutations and is known for its particular benefits for increasing flexibility in the spine. This pose is done lying face down and the hands and shoulders gently raise the top half of the body with the head facing down.
This pose works best for practitioners with intermediate to advanced skills and is performed by wrapping the arms around squatting legs and clasping the hands behind the back. This pose is said to end flatulence and menstrual discomfort as well as aid in back, shoulder and neck tension.
This pose is extremely effective in opening the hips because it takes care of increasing the external rotation of the femur bone and lengthening the primary hip flexor. It is performed by facing the mat and outstretching one leg whiles the other is tucked in and the knee is bent, the chest is straightened, while the back should remain relaxed.
The benefits of this standing yoga pose includes toning of the entire body, especially the thighs. Chair pose is done with the feet together, standing and arms raised above the head whiles the knees are slightly bent. Holding the chair pose whiles taking deep breathes will build heat in the body and stimulate the circulatory system.
Staff pose may resemble an easy seating position with the legs outstretched and hands positioned on the floor, but this pose also has great benefits for strengthening the back, stretching the chest and shoulders and improving posture.
Standing forward pose involves bending towards the knees with a straight back, allowing the head to touch the knees and the hands to grasp behind the heels. This pose elevates the heart over the brain and allows the highest point of the body to join with the lowest.
In this pose the feet are tucked close to the groin with the hands firmly clasped and the folded legs are moved in a flapping motion. The movements of the folded legs resemble the flapping of a butterfly’s wings. Benefits include aiding in bowel movement and relief from menstrual cramps.
This beginning backbend helps to open up the chest and lungs, and it got its name because it closely resembles the mythological creature, ‘the Sphinx.’ The Sphinx pose is done by lying face down and raising the top half of the body off the floor, the elbows remain on the floor and tucked into your sides.
Perfect for opening the hips and groin, the Bound angle pose is a seated pose perfect for individuals with tight hips and inner thighs from long hours of seating. This pose is performed in a seated position on the floor with the heels of the feet touching each other and hands holding the big toes.
The thunderbolt twist aims to activate both the left and right side of the brain, rebalance and focus the mind and cleanse toxins from the organs. The use of deep breathes will further guide the practitioner deeper into this yoga twist. Benefits of this twist include strengthening the back and increasing flexibility within the spine.
The shoulder pose is an inversion pose that helps with calming nerves, reducing anxiety, insomnia and aiding in digestion. Shoulder stand involves lying on your back and raising your lower body into the air whiles the shoulders support the weight of your lower body.
Plow pose is an inverted yoga pose that helps with refreshing the nervous system and stretches the spine and shoulders all while calming the brain, heart, and nerves. It is performed by lying on your back and allowing your legs to go above your head whiles your hands are pulled back and clasped together behind the back.
Downard dog pose is performed by having the hands and toes on the floor while the buttocks are in the air. The body should resemble an inverted ‘v’. Constant practice will aid in improvement of digestion and relief of back pain. This mid inversion causes flow of blood to the brain and it can also calm the nervous system.
Cow face pose is done in a seated position with one leg crossed over the other and one hand over the shoulder holding the other hand bent at the elbow, behind the back. This seated yoga pose offers a deep stretch of the hips and shoulders, it also allows the mind to be calm and brings balance to the entire body.
Side angle pose greatly helps to increase stamina and is performed by keeping the feet wide apart, leaning to one side and stretching one hand up and the other down, with the head facing upwards. Its therapeutic applications involve helping with lower backache, infertility, sciatica, and constipation.
Lizard pose is performed by stretching one leg and keeping the body raised while using the elbows and arms to support your weight. The other leg is then brought towards the supporting arms. This pose is similar to pigeon pose in that it allows for the hips to be opened. It also acts as a great preparatory pose for arm balancing poses and offers an amazing stretch to the back and lower legs.
This pose acts as the starting point or transition to many floor poses and has the ability to lengthen and align the spine. In table top pose, the practitioner is on all fours with the palms firmly on the ground and the toes touching the floor with the heel and arch of the foot upturned.
This pose is ideal for sculpting strong legs and will leave the practitioner feeling grounded. This yoga pose taps into the downward flowing energy and can bring a calmness to the body. It is performed by squatting with the feet together and knees apart and the arms are wrapped around the shins with the head facing downward.
This balancing yoga pose involves standing on one leg whiles the other leg is tucked behind the calves and the knees are bent, the arms are also twisted and the hands are crossed in front the face. Benefits include relief of back pain and sciatica. This powerful pose will help prevent future injury to the knees as well.
In triangle yoga pose the feet are spread apart with one being further than the other, the upper body is stretched to one side and the arms are stretched to opposing sides and the head is upturned. Benefits of this pose include strengthening the muscles of the thighs, hips and back. Practicing this pose will bring about poise, strength and equilibrium.
Allowing practitioners to balance on their arms whiles raising the body with their toes still touching the floor is the core building plank pose. The Plank pose can help the nervous system and aid in attaining balance in the body but can be a challenge for weak arms.
This is a standing yoga pose that aims to build power, stability and focus. It is performed by standing with the legs apart and raising the arms into the air while looking upward. The nature of this pose stretches the chest and because of this, it greatly helps with breathing capacity and can rejuvenate the entire body.
This pose is typically the first arm balancing pose that yoga practitioners learn since it is the foundational base for a majority of arm balancing poses. The crow pose involves bending the knees, dropping the torso and allowing the palms to be on the mat with the knees being lifted and placed on the backside of the arms and the head facing down.
This back-bending pose will help in strengthening your arms, legs and abdomen whiles giving your entire body an energy boost. This pose is done with the back facing the floor and being raised by all fours with the feet and palms firmly on the ground.
This pose is a variation of downward facing dog and works perfectly for individuals suffering from painful wrist pain or carpal tunnel syndrome because this variation is performed with the forearms. Benefits of this pose range from relief of headache to improved concentration and digestion.
Although this pose is simple, it has great benefits which include total relaxation and allowing the body to release tension and gain clarity of mind. Corpse pose offers deep restoration to the entire body and is regarded as one of the single most important poses in a yoga practice. The stillness of this pose allows the body time to process and benefit from other poses.
Happy baby pose involves laying on your back and bringing the knees into the belly and holding onto the heels of the feet. This pose gently stretches the back, spine and inner groin whiles calming the brain and relieving stress.
Wide legged forward fold pose is done by spreading the legs apart in an upside down ‘v’ shape and lowering the upper body with the arms clasped behind the back. The therapeutic applications involve relief of headache, fatigue and mild depression.
The firefly pose is an arm balancing pose that requires arm strength as well as core strength. It is performed by using the hands as support while the legs are raised shoulder height. Benefits of this stretch include toning of the belly and improvement in balance.
Also referred to as fetus pose, this position is obtained by tucking the legs into the groin, wrapping the hands behind the calves and rolling onto the back using the shoulders and neck to support the weight of the body. This is a sitting pose as well as a forward bend and stretch.
This pose helps practitioners connect with their inner goddess and tap into the powerful feminine energy. It is performed with the legs spread apart, back straightened and the arms are bent at the elbow and raised upwards. This pose will open the hips and chest as well as strengthens and tones the entire lower body.
The shoulder pressing pose is an arm balancing pose that relies heavily on proper positioning rather than strength. In this pose the practitioner places their palms on the floor and locks their feet together in front the hands and raises their entire body off the floor.
In this pose, one leg and one hand remain on the floor while the other half, including the core, are raised and stretched. Balancing star will tone the shoulders as well as abs and thighs. Balancing on one hand and foot engages the core and upper body and is a total body movement that benefits the entire body.
Said to cure a slew of ailments, Viparita Karani is also referred to as ‘Legs up on the wall pose’ because that is what it entails. This pose is typically considered as a restorative pose and is left for the end of yoga sequences. Women undergoing menopause can find relief with this pose as well as those suffering from menstrual cramps.
There are many variations on the headstand pose but this one is the most complex. In this pose, the practitioner performs a headstand with their arms stretched out to her sides
The deaf man pose is performed by lying on your back with your arms and legs relaxed and fingers and palms facing the ceiling. This is a great pose to practice before bed because it relaxes the muscles allowing for deeper sleep and relaxation.
The Big toe pose offers an amazing stretch for tight hamstrings, it is done by standing and reaching forward till the toes can be touched. This pose has the ability to calm the brain as well as relieve stress and insomnia. Big toe pose is a great preparatory pose for deeper stretches involving the hamstrings.