A Baker’s Dozen Poses

A few years ago, Yoga Journal did a series of articles in which they asked yoga experts for a list of what they consider to be 10 essential yoga poses. Of those lists, Jason Crandell‘s really spoke to me. I have taught a modified version of his selections in my gentle classes for a number of years and I incorporate them almost daily in my own practice. As a yin and restorative teacher, I don’t think any list of essential poses is complete without a few of those poses so I’ve added three additional poses to my recommendations to get us to a baker’s dozen.

The original list from Jason Crandell is below. 20200805_145750

  1. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  2. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
  3. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
  4. Triangle (Trikonasana)
  5. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
  6. Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)
  7. Locust (Salabhasana)
  8. Wheel Pose (Urdvha Dhanurasana)
  9. Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)
  10. Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

20200805_145514What I teach in my gentle classes:

  1. Table Top with Single-Leg Extension (Bharmanasana) I teach many students with wrist and shoulder issues who need to avoid the traditional expression of downward facing dog pose
  2. Low lunge (Anjaneyasana)
  3. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
  4. Triangle (Trikonasana)
  5. Crescent Lunge (Anganeyasana) – For student with low back pain, I teach crescent lunge instead of warrior I. With the feet hip distance apart in crescent rather than the traditional heel-to-heel alignment of warrior I, the lunge is generally more accessible.
  6. Plank (Phalakasana)  or Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana) – Nope. I don’t teach inversions like handstand and shoulderstand in a gentle class. Depending on the goals of the class, I will teach plank for strength or happy baby for an inversion.
  7. Locust (Salabhasana)
  8. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) – Bridge pose is often used as a prepatory pose for full wheel pose but is an alternative that offers a lot of the same benefits.
  9. Modified Cow Face Arms (Gomukhasana) – Using a strap for cow face arms makes it more accessible for most students. Additionally, I give students the option to sit in whatever leg position makes sitting with an erect spine easiest.
  10. Constructive Rest Pose – Some places that I teach don’t allow for use of the walls for legs up the wall pose. Constructive rest allows the spine to rest in a neutral position.

What I practice is below. I usually do a few rounds of Sun Salutation C (Surya Namaskar C) as a warm up and sometimes intersperse the a few sun salutes between poses. I usually hold each pose for 10 breaths, except the poses with time notations below.

  1. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)20200805_145603
  2. Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
  3. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
  4. Triangle (Trikonasana)
  5. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
  6. Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana) with the help of a FeetUp Trainer or Dolphin Pose (Ardah Pincha Mayursana ) if I’m not in my studio space
  7. Locust (Salabhasana)
  8. Wheel Pose (Urdvha Dhanurasana) with the aid of a prop or Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
  9. Butterfly, 5 minutes
  10. Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)
  11. Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani), 3 to 20 minutes
  12. Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
  13. Corpse Pose (Shavasana)