Some days you might just need to give a little extra to the traditional poses, and at How to Practice Yoga, we're all about showing you how to take your practice to the next level.
These five variations will work your muscles, challenge the depth of your breath, and test your perseverance.
Tip toe ta tadasana
First off, let’s address the white elephant. Mountain Pose (or upwards hands pose), isn’t easy. There’s a ton to think about as it is: are your feet rooted, legs and butt engaged? Is your belly drawing in, chest open? Are your fingers active? Is the crown of your head reaching up with your arms? Are you lengthening through the back? It’s a lot.
But if you did want to add on, rather than rooting through the soles of your feet, come on to your tippie toes. This variation forces you to engage your calves, legs, and butt more than the traditional version and tests your balance and concentration. Falling out is part of the process.
Plank on the tops of your feet
If you can hold plank pose easily for longer than 10 breaths, this is for you. Rather than staying on your toes, come to the tops of your feet. Engage your legs and butt to lift your hips in line with your shoulders, and then energetically pull your feet towards your wrists and your wrists towards your feet.
In addition to working your entire core, this variation strengthens your hamstrings and glutes.
PS. It’s okay to let your body tremble—that means you're getting stronger!
Bow pose variation
Not for the faint of heart, this pose variation requires tons of core, trapezius, hamstring, inner thighs, and glute strength.
From prone, bend your heels towards your butt. Reach your arms back behind you like you were going to take a traditional bow pose, but instead of grabbing for your feet, just lift your chest. With your chest lifted, engage your hamstrings and glutes and try to lift your thighs off the mat.
Keep your chin parallel with the mat, and lift using the strength of your inner thighs and glutes. Hold for three breaths and then take your traditional bow pose for a juicy relief.
No hook chair twist
From chair pose with your feet and thighs touching, draw your hands to your heart. On an inhale lengthen your spine forward, and as you exhale twist and then hold your edge.
Unlike the traditional chair twist where you hook your elbow on the outside of your thigh and use your arm as a lever, this variation relies on the strength of your core and legs to keep the twist.
You'll get all the detoxifying benefits of the twist plus the added benefits of a mini core workout.
Skip crow pose for lolasana prep
If crow pose feels easy, up-level with crow’s sexy brother, lolasana prep. Rather than using your bent arms as a shelf for your legs, lolasana prep challenges you to engage your legs and core to keep the shape.
From tabletop pose, position your knees directly below your hips and set your hands shoulder width apart right under your shoulders. Spread your palms and press firmly into the ground with straight arms. Lift on to the tops of your feet, round your back, and pull your knees as close as they can into your chest.
These poses are tough! So don’t worry if you can’t hold them as long as you hold their traditional versions. Remember: it’s about practice and giving your body what it needs. Don’t stress the rest.
And if you’re looking for a more strength building yoga sequence, try one of our Yoga Sculpt classes. These 45-minute classes incorporate high-intensity intervals, dynamic movements, and a core series guaranteed to leave you sweating.