Asanas: Standing Poses

Anjali Mudra
All Levels

Anjali Mudra | Añjali Mudrā

Form: Hatha

Description: Añjali Mudrā is a hand gesture which is found throughout Asia. It is used as a sign of respect and a greeting in India and amongst yoga practitioners and adherents of similar traditions. The gesture is incorporated into many yoga asanas.

Anjali is Sanskrit for "offering", "a gesture of reverence", "benediction", "salutation", and is derived from anj, meaning "to honour or celebrate". Mudra means "seal" or "sign". The meaning of the phase is thus "salutation seal". It is pronounced Un-j'lee Mu-drah. The gesture is also known as hrdayanjali mudra meaning "reverence to the heart seal" (from hrd, meaning "heart) and atmanjali mudra meaning "reverence to the self seal" (from atman, meaning "self").

Anjali mudra is performed by pressing the palms of the hands together. The fingers are together with fingertips pointing up. The hands are pressed together firmly and evenly.

In the most common form of anjali mudra, the hands are held at the heart chakra with thumbs resting lightly against the sternum. The gesture may also be performed at the brow chakra with thumb tips resting against the "third eye" or at the crown chakra (above the head). In some yoga postures, the hands are placed in anjali mudra position to one side of the body or behind the back.

Anjali mudra is normally accompanied by a slight bowing of the head.

Anjali mudra has the same meaning as the Sanskrit greeting Namaste and can be performed while saying Namaste or Pranam, or in place of vocalizing the word.

The gesture is used for both greetings and farewells, but carries a deeper significance than a simple "hello" or "goodbye". The joining together of the palms is said to provide connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and represents unification or "yoking". This yoking is symbolic of the practitioner's connection with the divine in all things. Hence, performing anjali mudra is an honouring of both the self and the other as the gesture acknowledges the divinity of both practitioner and recipient.

Anjali mudra is performed as part of a physical yoga practice with an aim to achieving several benefits. It is a centering pose which helps to alleviate mental stress and anxiety and is therefore used to assist the practitioner in achieving focus and coming into a meditative state.

The physical execution of the pose helps to promote flexibility in the hands, wrists, fingers and arms.

While anjali mudra may be performed by itself from any seated or standing posture, the gesture is also incorporated into physical yoga practice as part of many full-body asanas including:
anjaneyasana (lunge) - with arms overhead
hanumanasana (monkey pose)
malasana (garland pose)
matsyasana (fish pose) - an advanced variant
prasarita padottanasana (wide-legged forward bend) - an advanced variant with hands behind the back
tadasana/samasthiti (mountain pose) - a variant of the pose used during sun salutation sequences
urdhva hastasana (upward salute/extended mountain pose) - arms overhead
virabhadrasana I (warrior I) - arms overhead
vrksasana (tree pose)

Dancer Pose

Dancer Pose | Natarajasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Naṭarājāsana is a Hatha yoga posture. In Sanskrit Nata means Dancer and Raja means king or lord so this asana is also known as the Lord of Dance. Nataraja is one of the names given to the Hindu God Shiva in his form as the cosmic dancer.

This is a balance pose that strengthens the legs. It also is a full body stretch which engages the shoulders, chest and abdomen, strengthens the thigh and calf muscles, knees and ankles, hips and spine, and develops concentration and grace.

This aesthetic, stretching and balancing pose is used in Indian classical dances.

Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose

Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose | Utthita Hasta Pādahastāsana

Form: Hatha

Description: This pose is about staying connected to the foundation and discovering how proper balance and centering creates ease.

Standing Splits

Standing Splits | Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Start in uttanasana. With hands on the floor and hips squared, walk hands back toward the standing foot to deepen the stretch. Hamstrings should be warmed up. As your practice advances, you will try to place both hands on the standing ankle and balance.

Warrior A
All Levels

Warrior A | Vīrabhadrāsana A

Form: hatha | a.k.a. Hero Posture A


Warrior B
All Levels

Warrior B | Vīrabhadrāsana B

Form: Hatha | a.k.a. Hero Posture B


Warrior C
All Levels

Warrior C | Vīrabhadrāsana C

Form: Iyengar | a.k.a. Hero Posture C

Description: see headstand above.

Reverse Warrior
All Levels

Reverse Warrior | Viparita Vīrabhadrāsana

Form: Iyengar | a.k.a. Crescent Pose


Chair Pose
All Levels

Chair Pose | Utkaṭāsana

Form: Hatha | a.k.a. Powerful or Fierce Pose

Description: (OOT-kah-TAHS-anna) Utkaṭāsana translated from Sanskrit as Awkward pose, known also as the Chair Pose is a Hatha yoga posture. Awkward Pose is a powerful strengthening posture, and when done with Deep Breathing, Half Moon and Hands to Feet, it also concludes a warm-up section in which generates internal heat and loosens the muscles.

This asana increases strength, balance and stability. The Hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteals, and the erector muscles of the back are exercised and strengthened. The erector muscles contract isometricly to keep the normal curvature of the spine. The anterior lower leg muscles get toned. These include the tibialis anterior, extensor halluscis longus, extensor digitorum longus, and peroneous tertius. This group of muscle primarily extends the toes and dorsiflexes the ankle and are used for balance and stability.

Twisted Chair Pose

Twisted Chair Pose | Parivrtta Utkaṭāsana

Form: Hatha | a.k.a. Twisted Powerful or Fierce Pose


Crescent Pose
All Levels

Crescent Moon Pose | Anjaneyasana

Form: Hatha

Description: To enter the pose, place hands supporting you at either side of the leading foot. Gently place the back knee down then let the front knee extend over the foot. (Not all the way after a little while passes slowly deepen forward with the knee.)

Take the hands off the mat and stretch them up above the head in Añjali Mudrā.

Triangle Pose
All Levels

Triangle Pose | Trikonasana

Form: Hatha

Description:Trikonasana (tree-cone-AH-sa-na) (Triangle Pose) is an important Hatha yoga asana. It is usually performed in two parts, facing left, and then facing right. The practitioner begins standing with the feet one leg-length apart, knees unbent, turns the right foot completely to the outside and the left foot less than 45 degrees to the inside, keeping the heels in line with the hips. The arms are spread out to the sides, parallel to the ground, palms facing down; the trunk is extended as far as is comfortable to the right, while the arms remain parallel to the floor. Once the trunk is fully extended to the right, the right arm is dropped so that the right hand reaches the shin (or a block or on the floor) to the front (left side) of the right foot, with the palm down if flexed. Note that in Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) the hand is placed on the floor to the back (right side) of the right foot. The left arm is extended vertically, and the spine and trunk are gently twisted counterclockwise (i.e., upwards to the left, since they're roughly parallel to the floor), using the extended arms as a lever, while the spine remains parallel to the ground. The arms are stretched away from one another, and the head is often turned to gaze at the left thumb, slightly intensifying the spinal twist.

Returning to standing, the bend is then repeated to the left.

Trikonasana is claimed to stimulate blood flow to the head, and helps to stretch and relax the back, shoulders, legs and arms. The muscles of the thighs, calves and hamstrings are stretched.

Utthita Trikonasana is an Extended Triangle Pose. Parivritta Trikonasana is a Revolved Triangle Pose.

Revolved Triangle Pose

Revolved Triangle Pose | Parivrtta Trikonasana

Form: Hatha


Half Moon Pose
All Levels

Half Moon Pose | Ardha Candrāsana

Form: Hatha

Description: Ardha Candrāsana (Sanskrit translation: Ardha means half. Candra or Chandra means moon or luminous, as in the light from the moon) is a yoga posture. The moon is symbolic in yoga mythology. Hatha, as in hatha yoga, is sometimes taken to mean sun and moon from the syllables "ha" and "tha" representing solar and lunar energies. Yoga means yoke, so hatha yoga is a binding or yoking together of solar and lunar energies. Chandra is also the golden moon god known as Soma. Soma is the elixir of immortality drunk by the gods. So in doing the posture Ardha Chandrasana (half moon pose), one tunes into the unconscious energy of the moon which changes by waxing and waning.

Side Angle Pose
All Levels

Side Angle Pose | Parsvakonasana

Form: Hatha

Description: (oo-TEE-tah parsh-vah-cone-AHS-anna) | utthita = extended | parsva = side, flank | kona = angle

Bound Side Angle Pose
All Levels

Side Angle Pose | Baddha Uttita Parsvakonasana

Form: Hatha

Description: (oo-TEE-tah parsh-vah-cone-AHS-anna) baddha = bound | utthita = extended | parsva = side, flank | kona = angle

Half Wheel Pose
All Levels

Half Wheel Pose | Ardha Chakrasana

Form: Hatha

Description: Stand upright. Inhale and slowly bend back. The hands should be together, fingers pointed or in Anjale Mudra. As the head lowers, stretch the ribs and abdomen so an arch or half wheel is formed.

Tree Pose
All Levels

Tree Pose | Vrksāsana

Form: Hatha

Vrksāsana is a yoga pose referred to in English as the Tree Pose. From mountain pose, weight is shifted to one leg, for example, starting with the left leg. The entire sole of the foot remains in contact with the floor. The right knee is bent and the right foot placed on the left inner thigh, or in half lotus position. With the toes of the right foot pointing directly down, the left foot, center of the pelvis, shoulders and head are all vertically aligned. Hands are typically held above the head either pointed directly upwards and unclasped, or clasped together in Añjali Mudrā.

The pose is typically held for 20 to 60 seconds to stretch the spine, returning to the mountain pose while exhaling, then repeating standing on the opposite leg.

The pose emphasizes alignment of the head, spine and hips. Faults include leaning to one side, twisting, pushing one hip out; bending or rotating the supporting knee outwards; looking downwards and lacking concentration. Iyengar claims the pose improves balance, poise and posture. Hewitt claims[5] it improves posture and concentration, limbers the hips, deepens the thorax, strengthens the ankles, and firms and tones the muscles of the legs, back and chest.

Raising the arms above the head for any length of time may involve risks for persons with High blood pressure. The arms can be held at chest height in Añjali Mudrā for those at risk.

Airplane Pose
All Levels

Airplane Pose | Eka Pada Dekasana

Form: Hatha | a.k.a. One-Legged Bird Pose

Horse Pose

Horse Pose | Vatayanasana

Form: Hatha