If you’re a seasoned yogi looking to take your practice to the next level, or just someone who loves a good challenge, advanced yoga poses may be just what you need.
Not only do these poses require strength and flexibility, but they also demand intense focus and concentration.
Mastering these advanced poses can help you deepen your practice and achieve new levels of physical and mental strength.
In this article, we’ll explore 4 advanced yoga poses that will challenge you both physically and mentally, and help you unlock new levels of achievement in your yoga practice.
So roll out your mat, get ready to sweat, and let’s get started!
1. Handstand Pose
The handstand pose, or Adho Mukha Vrksasana in Sanskrit, is an advanced yoga pose that involves balancing the body upside down on the hands with the arms fully extended.
This pose requires significant upper body strength, as well as balance, stability, and control.
Practicing handstands can help build core strength, increase overall body awareness, and boost confidence.
In addition to its physical benefits, handstand is also believed to promote mental clarity and focus, as it requires complete concentration and presence in the moment.
While handstands can be challenging to master, with consistent practice and proper technique, it can be a rewarding and empowering addition to any yoga practice.
Here’s How To Do It
- Start by placing your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart with your fingers spread wide. Come into a downward facing dog pose with your heels lifted.
- Walk your feet as close as possible to your hands while keeping your shoulders over your wrists.
- Bend one knee and shift your weight forward onto your hands, lifting the opposite foot off the ground.
- Once you feel stable, kick your lifted leg up and extend both legs fully, coming into a handstand.
- Keep your core engaged, gaze towards your hands, and hold the pose for a few breaths.
- When you’re ready to come down, lower one foot at a time back to the ground.
Note: It’s important to practice handstands against a wall or with a spotter until you feel comfortable and confident in the pose.
You can also practice building strength and stability through drills and exercises, such as practicing forearm stands or holding plank poses.
2. Split Pose
The split pose, or Hanumanasana in Sanskrit, is a seated yoga pose that involves stretching the legs in opposite directions, with one leg extended forward and the other leg extended backward.
This pose requires a great deal of flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, and groin, and can help improve overall flexibility and range of motion.
Practicing the split pose can also help release tension and tightness in the hips, and may be helpful for those who spend a lot of time sitting or standing.
The split pose is also believed to promote a sense of groundedness and emotional balance.
While it may take time to fully deepen into this pose, with consistent practice and patience, anyone can work towards achieving the split pose.
Here’s How To Do It
- Begin in a low lunge position with your front foot flat on the ground and your back leg extended behind you.
- Slowly begin to straighten your front leg, inching your back leg farther away from your front leg until you feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings and hips.
- Slowly begin to lower your hips down towards the ground, keeping both legs straight and engaged.
- Once you feel a comfortable stretch, hold the pose for several deep breaths.
- To come out of the pose, gently release the stretch and come back to the low lunge position.
- Repeat the pose on the other side, extending the opposite leg forward.
Note: It’s important to practice the split pose gradually and with patience, only going as deep into the stretch as feels comfortable for your body.
To deepen the stretch, you can try placing blocks or blankets under your hips for support, or gently pressing your front foot into the ground.
Avoid forcing the pose or overstretching, and remember to breathe deeply throughout the practice.
3. Two-Legged Inverted Staff Pose
The two-legged inverted staff pose, or dwi pada viparita dandasana in Sanskrit, is an advanced yoga pose that involves an intense backbend while balancing on the hands and feet.
This pose requires significant upper body and core strength, as well as spinal flexibility, and should only be attempted by experienced yogis under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
Practicing the two-legged inverted staff pose can help open up the chest and shoulders, stimulate the nervous system, and increase overall energy and vitality.
This pose is also believed to promote a sense of inner calm and balance, as it requires deep concentration and focus.
While it may take years of dedicated practice to master this pose, with consistent effort and proper technique, anyone can work towards achieving the two-legged inverted staff pose.
The two-legged inverted staff pose is a very advanced yoga pose that requires strength and flexibility.
Here’s How To Do It
- Begin by coming into the wheel pose or chakrasana with your feet and hands on the ground, fingers pointing towards your feet, and your body arched upwards.
- Lift your right foot off the ground and bring it to rest on top of your left thigh. Keep your left foot on the ground.
- Slowly lower your body towards the ground while keeping your hands and feet firmly planted on the ground.
- Gradually shift your weight onto your hands and lift your left foot off the ground, straightening your left leg towards the ceiling.
- Once you are balanced, engage your core and lift your right foot off your left thigh, straightening your right leg towards the ceiling as well.
- Keep your elbows straight and your shoulders firm as you hold the pose for several deep breaths.
- To release the pose, slowly lower your legs back down to the ground, returning to the wheel pose.
Note: The two-legged inverted staff pose should only be attempted by experienced yogis who have built up the necessary strength and flexibility.
If you are new to yoga or have any existing injuries, it is important to work with a qualified yoga teacher who can guide you safely through the practice.
4. Cow Face Pose
The Cow Face Pose, or Gomukhasana in Sanskrit, is a seated yoga pose that involves a deep stretch in the hips and shoulders.
This pose is named after the shape of a cow’s face that the arms and legs make while in the pose.
Practicing the Cow Face Pose regularly can help increase flexibility in the hips, groin, and shoulders, and may be helpful for those who spend a lot of time sitting or typing at a desk.
The Cow Face Pose is also believed to help calm the mind and relieve stress and tension.
While it may take time to fully deepen into this pose, with consistent practice and patience, anyone can work towards achieving the Cow Face Pose.
Here’s How To Do It
- Begin by sitting on your yoga mat with your legs extended in front of you.
- Cross your right leg over your left leg, bringing your right knee towards your left hip, and stacking your right foot on top of your left knee.
- Flex both feet and ensure that both sit bones are firmly planted on the ground.
- Raise your left arm overhead, bending the elbow and reaching your left hand towards your upper back.
- Reach your right arm behind your back, bending the elbow and trying to clasp your left hand.
- If you cannot reach your hands, use a yoga strap or towel to help bridge the gap between your hands.
- Once you have found your position, hold the pose for several deep breaths, feeling the stretch in your hips, shoulders, and arms.
- To release the pose, gently release your hands and uncross your legs, then repeat on the other side.
Note: It is important to practice the Cow Face Pose gradually and with patience, only going as deep into the stretch as feels comfortable for your body.
To deepen the stretch, you can try gently pressing your knees towards the ground or lifting your chest towards the ceiling. Remember to breathe deeply throughout the practice, and to honor your body’s limitations.
Advanced yoga poses like the Handstand Pose, Split Pose, and Two-legged Inverted Staff Pose can be challenging but rewarding additions to any yoga practice.
These poses require significant strength, flexibility, and focus, and should only be attempted by experienced yogis under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
However, with dedication and practice, anyone can work towards mastering these advanced poses and experiencing the physical and mental benefits they offer.
As with any yoga practice, it is important to listen to your body and practice mindfully, honoring your limitations and avoiding any pain or discomfort.
Remember, the journey towards mastering these poses is just as important as the end result, and each attempt is an opportunity to learn, grow, and deepen your connection with your body and breath.