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  • Basic Yoga Poses
    Categories of Yoga Postures and Some Guidelines for Working Towards a Complete Practice

    basic yoga poses including sun saluations, standing poses, seated poses, binding poses, twists, arm balances, backbends, forward bends and hamstring stretchest and inversions like shoulderstand. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Basic Yoga poses aren't necessarily easy, however they could be considered the basic building blocks or a reasonably complete yoga practice.

    My own understanding of a "complete" yoga practice is in part inspired by a teacher training course I took with Andrey Lappa. In his universal freestyle yoga, a complete yoga practice included working on all the joints of the body in a balanced fashion. So if your yoga sequence includes forward bends for the spine then you should also include some basic yoga poses where the spine is bent backwards.

    Sun Salutations

    basic yoga poses, sun salutation a, Neil Keleher, Sensational yoga posesbasic yoga poses, sun salutation b, Sensational Yoga Poses, Neil Keleher

    One way to begin a yoga practice, particularly in the ashtanga tradition is with sun salutations.

    Sun salutations (or fun salutations) focus more on movement as opposed to holding a pose and can be a good way to warm up the hips, spine and arms, though mostly in the forward bending and backward bending directions.

    Two types of sun salutation include sun salutation A and sun salutation B.

    seated basic yoga poses, neil keleher.

    A Simple Progression of Basic Yoga Poses

    inverted yoga pose, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.Two simple groups of basic yoga poses are standing postures and seated yoga poses.

    A fairly simple and common progression of yoga poses is to start with standing postures and then progress to seated yoga poses followed by inverted yoga poses and then resting and recovering.

    Back Bending and Forward Bending

    wheel pose with elbows straight, sensational yoga poses, neil keleher.wide leg bound angle yoga pose, sensational yoga poses, neil keleherseated straight leg forward bend, sensational yoga poses, neil keleher

    I've grouped backbends for both the hip and spine under backbending yoga poses.

    Forward bends for the hip and spine are shown under forward bending yoga poses.

    For a focus on hamstring stretches (which are forward bends for the hips with the knees straight) you can check out hamstring stretches. This page focuses mainly on standing hamstring stretches since they are a little bit easier, especially if hamstring flexibility is limited.


    Note that forward bends and backbends are counterposes for each other, however these terms are a little bit two general.

    Remember that if you are backbending the spine then include a forward bend for the spine to counterbalance it.

    If you are backbending the hips, then the counterpose is a forward bend for the hips.

    For more on counterposes see the counterposes page.

    prone twisting yoga pose with neck twist, sensational yoga poses, neil keleher

    Twisting the Spine

    Twisting yoga poses are another type of basic yoga pose and are often intermingled with binding pose and arm balances.

    Twisting poses can be used to increase ribcage flexibility as well as shoulder and hip flexibility.

    Twisting poses can be thought of as self-balancing, but it depends on the position of the leg and arms. I

    f you have a twisting pose where a thigh is externally rotated then you need a pose where the thigh is internally rotated to balance it.

    Also if you have a pose where the arm is internally rotated, then balance it with a pose where the arm is externally rotated.

    Binding Yoga Postures

    bound side angle yoga pose, rear view wih top hand grabbing bottom hand. Sensational Yoga Poses, neil Kelehermarichyasana c binding yoga pose, sensational yoga poses, neil keleher, front vies.

    Another type of basic yoga pose is binding yoga poses. These require some flexibility but are fun to get into (or challenging).

    When binding, the bind itself changes the tension distribution in the body.

    Binding is a little bit like using a prop, it can allow one part of the body to relax because it is supported.

    In a binding yoga pose the bind is what allows a part of the body to relax.

    arm balancing yoga pose, arm balanace with inside of knee pressing down on elbow. Neil Keleher, Sensational Yoga Poses.

    Arm Balances

    Similiar to binds are arm balances which I've also listed under balancing yoga poses.

    Arm balances are like binds because one part of the body, generally a knee or some part of the leg, rests on another part of the body, usually the upper arm.

    Because one part of the body rests on another it is easier to support the weight of the body while doing arm balances.

    Flexibility and Strength

    If basic yoga postures are difficult due to a lack of strength or flexibility then you may find it helpful to work on your strength and flexibility in isolation.

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