instructors share the best poses they like the most

There’s so many yoga poses, and so many benefits – so which ones should you be choosing for your daily routine? We asked five yoga instructors across the country their favourite and why.

We all know there are so many benefits to yoga not only as a way to stretch, release tension and improve mobility but also to calm the body and the mind and promote deep breathing. Wherever you’re at in your yoga journey, to keep things fun and continue advancing it’s great to try new poses. Here, five yoga teachers from around the country share their favourite unusual pose and why you should include it in your yoga routine.

“It is nice to mix up your yoga routine as we often get our favourite poses and stick to those, which engages the same muscles each time. By throwing in something a little different you can spice up your routine, which keeps things interesting and allows you to work on different areas of your body,” says Sam Merza National Fitness Manager of Genesis Health + Fitness, which offers flowing and meditative yoga classes for healing and restoring balance within the body mind and spirit.

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“If it’s time to try something new, you can find inspiration in many ways including practicing with different instructors, practicing different styles of yoga, taking part in a yoga retreat and finding inspiration by watching others.

“Just like any form of exercise, it’s important to progress gradually and not jump to advanced poses too soon and risk injury.

“If you listen to your body, it will always give you the feedback you’re looking for. If a pose feels very tight or uncomfortable and you don’t feel like you can rest into it, it may be that you’ve progressed too soon and need to scale it back. Remember though, what your body resists is actually a sign of where it needs some work! So it’s a gradual process and a careful balance.

“Form is also paramount, so spend time focusing on position, rather than trying to move through too many poses. It’s the good old quality over quantity scenario!”

Kylie Rose from Maitland NSW

Teaching yoga since 2016

Favourite pose: Heart Melting pose (Anahatasana)

How to do it:

From all fours, keeping the knees aligned under the hips, walk the palms forward toward the top of the mat, bringing the forehead or chin – if you have a high degree of neck (cervical spine) extension – to rest on the mat or a block. If there is significant ‘pinching’ discomfort in the shoulders, try walking the hands wider than shoulder-distance apart. A rolled mat or towel under the knees can help if you struggle with direct pressure on the kneecaps.

The longer you stay in this pose, the more “heart-melting” you can encourage. You can find benefit from staying here for short periods (5-10 breath cycles), or for a deeper release, try building to 2-4 minutes – without strain, pain or force. If you do have shoulder restrictions, try resting your hands on blocks or pillows, or try folding one arm, and resting your forehead on the back of your hand, and switching halfway to the opposite side. When coming out, take a few moments in Child’s pose with your arms wrapped alongside you, or resting on your belly or back – noticing the sensations in the targeted areas as your tissues rebound.

Why I love it:

This posture requires a high degree of inward focus, and humility – despite appearing quite simple. There can be a lot of preoccupation and distraction with the aesthetic and ‘tricky’ yoga postures, that can actually take people ‘out of’ their experience, and away from a genuine connection with their physical, emotional and mental bodies. Anahatasana can be a beautiful antidote to this. This posture, as its name suggests, offers great chest (pectoral) release, as well as stimulation of the shoulders, neck and mid (thoracic) spine. Particularly as we are spending more of our lives in front of screens, Anahatasana is a perfect counter-balance for lifestyle factors that contribute to forward head posture, rounded shoulders, and postural slumping.

Ellie Gleeson from Windsor QLD

Practicing yoga for 15 years, teaching for 6 months

Favourite pose: Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

How to do it:

Stand tall, legs hip width apart. Stabilise the right leg and lift the left leg up high and cross the left thigh over the right thigh. Point your left toes towards the floor and sink your thighs into each other. See if you can wrap your left foot behind your right calf.

Raise both your arms so they are parallel to the floor, and then wrap your right arm on top of your left arm. Bend your elbows and then begin to raise both hands upwards so that the backs of your palms are facing each other. Press the right hand to the right, and the left hand to the left and see if you can bring your palms to touch. Then lift your elbows up and stretch your fingers to the sky. Sink down into your legs, gripping your thighs together. Find stability through pressing your palms together. Hold this pose for 30 seconds, then unwrap yourself and repeat on the other side.

Why I love it:

This pose focuses on strength, flexibility, endurance and concentration. Great for easing lower back pain and sciatica, increasing the blood flow to the hip flexors, calves and ankles, and opening the shoulders and upper back. Also, amazing for mental focus!

Sarah Thorne from Windsor QLD

Teaching Body Balance for 5 years and Yoga for 2

Favourite pose: King Pigeon/Mermaid pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

How to do it:

Sit down with one leg out at a 90 degree angle in front of the body and the other leg bent behind at a 90 degree angle. As flexibility increases – straighten back leg. Roll hips over and square them to front, front heel in towards hip. Look backwards to your back foot and bring it to your hand. To advance, bring your foot to your elbow crease. Lift your front arm over your head and reach back. See if you can connect fingertips on front and back hand. Square your hips and shoulders towards the front. HOT TIP – brace hard through the core and practice just lifting the front arm off the floor.

Why I love it:

It really stretches out hips, back and quads and helps you focus on sitting tall and opening the chest. I really love it as the whole body is working and it takes patience and lots of practice to get there. It’s not completely simple so you really have to focus on what you are doing and stay present, which helps with focusing the mind rather than having a busy, cluttered head.

Trish DeViSha from Melbourne VIC

Teaching yoga since 2012

Favourite pose: Turtle pose (Kurmasana)

How to do it:

To do this pose you can start in a seated straddle position, then keep knees bent, reach forward and slide hands/arms over hips, under the knees and then hold on to the outside edges of your feet. Keep extending your chest forward as you keep pushing your heels diagonally outwards. Try to keep widening out through your shoulders and then relax your head down. Once your head is all the way down and forehead resting on the ground, you can release the grip of your feet and walk your hands back diagonally outwards, palms facing down. Try to keep the feet dorsal flexed and hips externally rotated. If this is not accessible, then try cobbler pose as a variation, or a straddle forward fold with knees bent and arms straight out without holding your feet.

Why I love it:

This pose is great to stretch out your hips, thighs and hamstrings as well as a tight back and it’s less intense than a full pancake straddle forward fold, as your knees can remain bent and your back rounded.

Keryn Chauncy from Coffs Harbour NSW

Teaching yoga for 2 years, both yin yoga and vinyasa yoga

Favourite pose: Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)

How to do it:

Starting in your Warrior II, begin in a wide stance, facing the long edge of your mat. Extend your arms out to a “T” position and adjust your stance so your wrist creases are directly over your ankles. Turn your back (left) foot parallel with the short edge of the mat or turn it in slightly (a helpful placement if you have a tendency to turn it out).

Line up your feet so that the heel of the front (right) foot is in line with the arch of the back (left) foot. Bend your front knee so that your thigh is parallel to the floor (or close to it), and stack your knee over your ankle (widen your stance if your knee extends past your ankle). Press into your back heel and press the top of your back thigh back in order to keep this leg straight and strong and avoid making your front thigh do all of the hard work in the pose.

Push down through the outside pinky toe edge of your back foot (this will release pressure off your front thigh). Check your front knee is not falling in, press your knee out toward your pinky toe and you can see your big toe. Tuck your pelvis under and pull your belly button to the spine, switching on the core. Reach the right hand forward, flip the palm and reach the hand straight up into the air letting your eyes follow. Left hand can slide down the back leg, making sure to rest either above or below the knee

Why I love it:

It strengthens the thighs, core, arms and neck and stretches out your inner thighs, groin, hips and oblique muscles. I love this pose because it shows the power, strength and grace of yoga all in one posture. This pose teaches us to stand strong on our mat as we strive to stand in the highest truth of who we are. Gazing upward towards potential while reaching back for support, encouraging us to call upon tools needed to navigate the inner realms of ego. Its name comes from the Hindu mythological warrior, Virabhadra, an incarnation of the god Shiva. Virabhadra was a tall, dark, and fierce deity, depicted with a thousand arms, flaming hair and eyes, and wearing a garland of skulls.

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