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Ashtanga Yoga Poses, Part 2

From Reverse Prayer pose to warrior 2

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ashtanga yoga poses, utthitta parsvottanasana, hands in prayer

Part 2 of Ashtanga yoga poses covers the remaining standing postures, from "reverse prayer" to warrior 2.

Praying Behind Your Back

The next Ashtanga Yoga Pose is prayer forward fold (Utthitta parsvottanasana).

Your hands are in prayer behind the back with legs in the same position as in twisting triangle. You then bend forwards.

If you can't do prayer you can make both hands into fists and put them together, or fist one hand. Or have the backs of your hands together.

ashtanga yoga poses, utthitta parsvottanasana, hands in prayer
ashtanga yoga poses, utthitta Purvottanasana, right side, hands fisted
ashtanga yoga poses, utthitta parsvottanasana, one hand open, other hand fisted, prayer pose option in prayer
preparation for utthitta Purvottanasana

To make it easier to get your arms into this pose you can roll your arms inwards and again focus on using pectoralis minor.


Enter this pose by stepping your right leg back and then turning 180 degrees to the right so that your right leg is in front and your left leg behind. Do this on an inhale.

ashtanga yoga poses, utthitta parsvottanasana, right side
ashtanga yoga poses, utthitta parsvottanasana, left side

Exhale and fold.

Inhale to stand and turn to face your left leg. Exhale fold.

Inhale up and face the side, reaching your arms out to the side as you do so.

Exhale to mountain pose.

Hold each side for 5 breaths.

One possible aid for remembering how this pose follows the last four is that in the wide leg forward bends the legs are symmetrical and straight forming a pyramid shape. In this pose, the hands are together and form a pyramid shape.

Standing Balance Ashtanga Yoga Poses

After parsvottanasana (Prayer Behind the Back), the next two ashtanga yoga poses in the standing series are balance poses.

Big Toe Pose

In hand to big toe pose (Utthitta Hasta Padangusthasana) you balance on one leg while holding on to the big toe of your lifted leg.

You could use a strap or belt to lasso your foot. Or you can bend the knee and grab it If you have trouble gripping you could also grab the side of the foot.


Inhale and then exhale to mountain. Repeat on the other side.

Half Bound Lotus Pose

In Half Bound Lotus (Ardha Baddha Padmasana) you bend forwards while one leg is in lotus. The bind happens when you grab your big toe from behind your back.

If you are uncomfortable in lotus you can fold your shin to the outside of the thigh. You can then practice balancing even though you aren't in half lotus. Another option is flying pigeon, standing with your standing knee bend and the "lotus" foot resting on the standing leg knee like in pigeon pose.

To help remember the order, think straight leg balancing on one leg first, then bent knee. Or think upright with leg straight and then fold the lift leg and the body as you bend forward.

For lotus, bring the right leg into lotus and reach the same side arm behind the back. Bend forward. Take your time in this.

Exhale to mountain pose. Repeat on the other side.

utthita hasa padangushtasana 1
utthita hasa padangushtasana 2
utthita hasa padangushtasana 3
ardha badda padmasana

Chair and Two Warriors

chair pose, ashtanga yoga poses

The final three standing ashtanga yoga poses are chair or utkatasana, warrior 1 on both sides, then warrior 2 on both sides.

These three postures are possibly placed at the end of the standing sequence as a way of boosting heat prior to beginning the seated sequence of postures.

You could also think of them as a way to practice stabilizing the legs or strengthening them.

This sequence of yoga poses is a little bit like a modified sun salutation B.

Chair Pose

In utkatasana, you can bend your spine backwards or keep it straight. It can feel really nice if you make your lower back feel full.

When you bend your knees sink your hips back. Lean your chest forwards for balance.

Neck long, reach your arms up.

Warrior 1

For warrior 1, the hips are square to the front. Sink your pelvis and reach your spin and arms up out of your pelvis. Vary between sinking down low and keeping your pelvis square to the front.

warrior 1 yoga pose, asthanga yoga pose right side
warrior 1 yoga pose, asthanga yoga pose left leg forward

Warrior 2

In warrior 2 the pelvis is turned to the side. Use your side thigh muscles to pull the bent knee back so that the knee is over the foot viewed from the front and from the side. Look at your front arm in this ashtanga yoga pose but stay aware of your back arm. Neck long!

warrior 1 yoga pose, asthanga yoga pose right side
warrior 1 yoga pose, asthanga yoga pose left leg forward


From mountain pose, inhale lift the arms. Exhale fold. Inhale reach forwards, exhale to chaturanga dandasana. Inhale up dog, exhale down dog, inhale into utkatasana.

Hold for five then do a sun salute to downward dog. Inhale right foot forward warrior 1.

Inhale stand and turn and exhale into the left side.

Inhale and turn and exhale into left side warrior 2. Then inhale and exhale to right side.

Hold each of these poses for 5 breaths.

After the final warrior 2 do a sun salutation and finish in downward dog. From there jump forward to seated to begin the seated set of ashtanga yoga poses.

Published: 2011 03 11
Clearly defined poses, exercises and stretches for improving stability, body awareness and flexibility.
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