Yoga Poses Guide

Asanas keys, Benefits & Sanskrit names

Yoga Poses Guide Overview

This basic yoga poses guide is a very concise teaching aid to remind you quickly the asanas keys and allows you to focus on what is most important ! Designed primarily as pedagogic tool for our Yoga teacher training  students, its also a very useful ressources for many teacher at the start of their activity as well as practitioners who are looking for a more precise approach of the Asana practice.

For each Asana you will find the main keys, particular benefits, Sanskrit names and level.

Please note, this guide is not intended to teach you how to put yourself in pose !
If you are new to yoga, you should practice first with a qualified teacher.

Select a category to find your Asana quickly

Seated Poses

Name : Easy pose

Sanskrit Name : Sukhasana

Asana Keys :

Mind the sit bones, lengthen the spine, shoulders relaxed, chin slightly down, back of the neck elongate. If there is discomfort in the knees, allow to keep the knees slightly up or sit on a block. 

Benefits :

Hip Opener, straighten Back, Calmness, Greatly improves the hip joints rotation. strengthen the legs, the upper back & the shoulders. Calm the mind, excellent for centering. 

Level : Beginner

Name : Bound Angle Pose

Sanskrit Name : Baddha Konasana

Asana Keys :

Press the sole of the feet together, mind the sitting bones and the inner thighs, lengthen the spine, relax the shoulders. If there is discomfort in the knees, allow to keep the knees slightly up or sit on a block. 

Benefits :

Hip Opener ++, Back Strength, Leg Flexibility, Improves hips and ankles flexibility. Tones the leg muscles and strengthen the back. Stretches the groin and the inner legs.

Level : Beginner

Name : Lotus Pose

Sanskrit Name : Padmasana

Asana Keys :

Feet on the top of thighs, Spine elongate, mind the knees, and relax the shoulders. Top of the head toward the ceiling and chin slightly down. A great mobility in the hips are required before mastering the pose.

Benefits :

Hip Opening, Relaxing, Improving Posture, Great asana for meditation and Pranayama practice. Much more stable than its counterparts. This asana allows the entire body to remain steady during a long period of time.

Level : Intermediate

Name : Cow Face Pose

Sanskrit Name : Gomukhasana

Asana Keys :

Hips between the feet, knees in the same line, spine elongate, chest open, elbows in line with the shoulders. Keep the lower leg straight if there is any discomfort in the knees.

Benefits :

Chest Opening, hip, quadriceps, shoulder, triceps and abdomen Stretching. Greatly improves hips, quadriceps and shoulders flexibility. Tones the abdominal organs. Relieve tiredness, sciatica, cramps in the legs. Excellent for relaxation.

Level : Intermediate

Name : Hero Pose

Sanskrit Name : Virasana

Asana Keys :

Sit between the feet, Elongated the Spine, shoulders back and relax, Mind the knees. Keep on leg extend if you feel discomfort in the knee or sit on the block between your feet. 

Benefits :

Relaxing, Rejuvenating knees, Posture improving. Quadriceps and intense ankles stretch. Improve the circulation in the legs. Pose used for practicing pranayama and meditation. Calm the mind.

Level : Beginner

Name : Staff Pose

Sanskrit Name : Dandasana

Asana Keys :

Feet flex, sitting bones press on the floor, legs engaged, lengthen the spine, shoulders down and relaxed.

Benefits :

Hamstring, Calves and Hips Stretching. Allows complete body awareness. Strengthen the spine and the abdominal muscles. Dandasana is the foundation of most of the seated asana.

Level : Beginner

Name : Heron Pose

Sanskrit Name : Krounchasana

Asana Keys :

Both hips on the floor, Extended leg and arms engage, Spine lengthen. Mind the knee.

Benefits :

Core Flexibility, Hip and Legs Strength. Stretches the ankles, calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, spine and shoulders. Stimulate the abdominal organs.

Level : Intermediate

Standing Poses

Name : Mountain pose

Sanskrit Name : Tadasana

Asana Keys :

Feet press, Legs engaged,  Elongates the spine, top of the head toward the ceiling, Shoulders down and relaxed, palm facing forward. Breath lengthen.

Benefits :

Calmness, Centering, Grounding. Improves the posture & the body awareness. Strengthens the core muscles. Tadasana is the foundation of most of the standing asana.

Level : Beginner

Name : Upward Salute

Sanskrit Name : Urdvha Hastasana

Asana Keys :

Feet the press, Legs engaged, Spine Elongated, Arms along the ears

Benefits :

Elongates the spine, Improves the Digestion and the Confidence. Improves the posture, stretches the intestines & abdomen, toning the nerves and muscles.

Level : Beginner

Name : Half Standing Forward Bend

Sanskrit Name : Ardha Uttanasana

Asana Keys :

Feet press, Legs active, Back straight and elongated, Tailbone upward, Mind the neck compression

Benefits :

Chest Opening, Strengthen the Back, Hamstring Stretch. Corrects hyper kyphosis and tones abdominal muscles. Use as a transition pose during the flow. 

Level : Beginner

Name : Chair pose

Sanskrit Name : Utkatasana

Asana Keys :

Feet press, Knees above heels, Tail bone tucked in, Arms along the ears, palms together in the full pose.

Benefits :

Overall body Stretch/strengthening, Energizing. Improves posture, tones the nervous system. Reinforce the legs, gluts and abdominal muscles. Stimulates the heart and diaphragm.

Level : Beginner

Name : Warrior I pose

Sanskrit Name : Virabhadrasana I

Asana Keys :

Front knee above heel, Hips facing forward, Tail bone tucked in, Legs & core engaged, Chest open & lifted up. Back foot firmly press.

Benefits :

Chest Opening, Grounding and Improves Confidence. Improve the rotation of the hips and mobilize the spine. This pose offers a full body stretch and strengthening and improves breathing and circulation. 

Level : Beginner

Name : Warrior II Pose

Sanskrit Name : Virabhadrasana II

Asana Keys :

Front knee above the heel, Hips facing to the side, Tail bone tuck in, Arms in a line, Shoulders above the hips

Benefits :

Hips Opener, Overall Body Strength, Respiration / Circulation. Strengthens the legs, shoulders, back and chest muscles. Open the rib cage, invigorate the nervous system, improve hips joint movement. This asana provides a great feeling of grounding and confidence.

Level : Beginner

Name : Triangle Pose

Sanskrit Name : Utthita Trikonasana

Asana Keys :

Feet press, Bend from the hips, Spine long, Keep the chest opened & lifted up, Mind the neck, look to the side if you feel discomfort when you look up.

Benefits :

Hip, shoulder, side of the trunk, waist and abdominal muscle stretch. Greatly improves hip joints rotation. Strengthen legs, upper back & shoulders. Improve the digestion and tones the reproductive organs.

Level : Beginner

Name : Revolved Triangle Pose

Sanskrit Name : Parivrtta Trikonasana

Asana Keys :

Foot press, Legs active, Hips on the same level, Spine elongated, Chest and shoulders open. Mind the back leg, keep it engage.

Benefits :

Legs, upper back and shoulders Strengthening, Balance. Stretches hamstrings, calves, side abdominal and shoulders. Massages the abdominal organs.

Level : Intermediate

Name : Extended side angle Pose

Sanskrit Name : Utthita Parsvakonasana

Asana Keys :

Feet press, Front knee directly above ankle, Chest open, Back-foot ankle, hip and wrist in line, Mind the neck, shoulders away from the ear. Keep the back leg engage.

Benefits :

Overall stretch the full body, develops Stamina. Stretches side abdominal muscles and strengthen the legs, shoulders, wrists & ankles.

Level : Beginner

Name : Tree Pose

Sanskrit Name : Vrksasana

Asana Keys :

Floor foot and leg engaged, Hips facing forward, Foot pressed onto inner the thigh, Spine elongated. Never press the sole of the feet onto the knee, lower down to the calf if you cannot reach the inner thigh. 

Benefits :

Balance, Concentration, Hip Opener. Helps center yourself and build focus. calm the mind and improve balance. Strengthens the supporting leg.

Level : Beginner

Name : Extended Hang To Big Toe A Pose

Sanskrit Name : Utthita Padangusthasana A

Asana Keys :

Floor leg engaged, Spine elongated, Hips & shoulders on the same level, Foot, Hip, Shoulder on the same line

Benefits :

Balance, Focus, Legs Strength. Stretches and brings flexibility to the hips and the hamstrings,  Strengthens legs and ankles. Promote confidence and improves the balance.

Level : Intermediate

Name : Extended Hang To Big Toe B Pose

Sanskrit Name : Utthita Padangusthasana B

Asana Keys :

Floor leg engaged, Spine elongated, Hips & Shoulders opened on the same level, Feet, Hip, Shoulder in one line. 

Benefits :

Legs Stretching, hips opening, Balance. Improves the confidence and concentration. Stretches and strengthens the legs. Promote balance.

Level : Intermediate

Name : Half Moon Pose

Sanskrit Name : Ardha Chandrasana

Asana Keys :

Whole body engaged, Both hips above heel, Hips and chest open, Shoulder blades spread apart and arms in one line. Lighten the pose by lifting the trunk upward.

Benefits :

Full Body Strengthening, Balance, Chest opener. Stretches the shoulders, spine, legs, and hips. Improve the balance.

Level : Intermediate

Name : Eagle Pose

Sanskrit Name : Garudasana

Asana Keys :

Arms, legs and core engaged, Shoulder blades spread apart, Arms reaching up and elbow away from the chest. Allow to gently put the toes down if you cannot wrap the ankle around the leg.

Benefits :

Balance. Leg, wrist and ankle Strength. Shoulders and upper back stretch. Improves the concentration, calm the mind, stimulate the blood circulation and the immune system.

Level : Intermediate

Forward Bends

Name : Standing Forward Pose

Sanskrit Name : Uttanasana

Asana Keys :

Bend from the hips, tail bone upward, Keep the spine elongate, belly onto the thighs, face as close to the knees as comfortable. Allow to bend the knees if the spine rounds.

Benefits :

Relaxation, Digestion, Stretch. Relieves stress, reduces fatigue and anxiety. Stretches the hamstrings, calves and hips while strengthening the thighs and the knees. Lengthens the spinal muscles. Calm the nervous system. 

Level : Beginner

Name : Head To Knee Pose

Sanskrit Name : Janu Sirsasana

Asana Keys :

Active extended leg, Hips aligned, Spine elongate, belly onto the thigh, do not forceful to reach forward.

Benefits :

Hamstring, calves, neck and Shoulder stretching, Spine lengthening. Calm the brain. Relieves anxiety & tiredness. Improve digestion. Softening up the legs as preparation for meditation asanas.

Level : Intermediate

Name : Marichi's Pose

Sanskrit Name : Marichyasana I

Asana Keys :

Front leg active and foot flex, Spine elongated, Arms wrapped around the bend leg, Head resting on knee

Benefits :

Hamstrings, buttocks, shoulders, Hips and back Stretching, Chest opening. Tone the hips and abdomen, Calm the mind. Improves digestion and metabolism. Pose dedicated to the Sage Marichi.

Level : Intermediate

Back Bends

Name : Cobra Pose

Sanskrit Name : Bujangasana

Asana Keys :

Legs active, Chest forward then up, Beware of back compression, Hips on the floor, Shoulders back & down. Allow to slightly bend the elbows.

Benefits :

Back Strength, Chest Opening, Spine Elongation. Keeps the spine supple and healthy. Strengthen the back and open the chest encouraging a deeper breath. Promote digestion.

Level : Intermediate

Name : Bow Pose

Sanskrit Name : Dhanurasana

Asana Keys :

Cervical spine lengthened, Lift the chest and legs up, Push the ankles against the palms

Benefits :

Core, Back Strength, Chest opening, Improving digestion. Stretches the spine, neck, shoulders, torso, abdomen and quadriceps while strengthening the core, hamstrings and gluteal muscles . Massage of the abdominal organs.

Level : Intermediate

Name : King Pigeon Pose

Sanskrit Name : Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Asana Keys :

Hips on the floor at the same level, Mind the front knee & lower back, Shoulders and chest opened, back extention.

Benefits :

Back and core Strengthening, Hips Flexibility. Brings body awareness, opens the chest and improves the posture.

Level : Advanced

Name : Camel Pose

Sanskrit Name : Ustrasana

Asana Keys :

Hips directly above knees, Shoulders away from the ears, Chest open, Mind the lower back.

Benefits :

Spine Flexibility, Hip and Chest Opener, Arms and Thighs Strength. Improves breathing and releases tension in the anterior body from the knee to the chin. Improves the digestive and reproductive system.

Level : Intermediate

Name : Bridge Pose

Sanskrit Name : Sethu Bandha Sarvangasana

Asana Keys :

Feet press, Knees directly above the ankles, Lift from the hips, chest toward the chin, Arms support and scapula toward each other. Mind the neck

Benefits :

Back, Legs, and Shoulders Strength, Chest Opener, Spine Flexibility. Relieves back pain, improves blood circulation, and calms the mind & the nervous system.

Level : Beginner

Name : Reclined Hero Pose

Sanskrit Name : Supta Virasana

Asana Keys :

Hips rest between the feet, Knees and shoulders rest on the mat, Chest expansion, arms along the ears. Extend one leg if you feel discomfort in the knees.

Benefits :

Abdomen stretching, Rejuvenating knees, Posture improving. Intense ankle and quadriceps stretch. Good chest opening and relaxing pose.

Level : Intermediate

Name : Fish Pose

Sanskrit Name : Matsyasana

Asana Keys :

Legs and feet actives, Hips pressed on the floor, Chest lifting up, Scapula toward each other , Top of the head on the floor, elbows bend. Mind the neck.

Benefits :

Chest opening, Spine lengthening, Back strengthening. Shoulders & chest opening, improve lung capacity. Release muscular tension in neck & shoulders. Usually use as a counter pose for Sarvangasana

Level : Intermediate

Twists

Name : Half Spinal Twist

Sanskrit Name : Ardha Matsyendrasana

Asana Keys :

Press the sit bones, Spine elongated, Thigh press on the chest, Relax the shoulders, Gaze back

Benefits :

Chest, Hips and Lower Back Stretch, Chest Opening, Circulation. The twist of the spine tones the spinal nerve and improves blood circulation also massages the abdominal organs.

Level : Beginner

Name : Marichi pose III

Sanskrit Name : Marichyasana III

Asana Keys :

Extended leg active and foot flexed, Spine elongated, Arms active and squeezing the bent leg, Gaze over your shoulder, Do not lean back.

Benefits :

Shoulders and hips opening, Spine Elongation. Increase the mobility of the spine, stretches the intercostal muscles. Massage of abdominal organs especially liver & kidney. Relieves back and hip pain.

Level : Intermediate

Name : Supine Spinal Twist

Sanskrit Name : Supta Matsyendrasana

Asana Keys :

Hip stacked on the top of the other, Lower back awareness, Mind the breath, Shoulders on the floor, arms in one line, do not forceful to put the knee on the floor.

Benefits :

Spine and Shoulder Stretching, Relaxing, Improving Digestion. Massages & tones the abdominal organs and muscles.Relaxing the spine. Stretches the obliques, glutes and chest. 

Level : Beginner

Inversions

Name : Downward Facing Dog

Sanskrit Name : Adho Mukha Svanasana

Asana Keys :

Palms actively pressing on the mat, Keep a natural spine alignment, Rotate the shoulders outward, Hips up, knee cap pull, feet parallel, heels slightly opened out. 

Benefits :

All-over Stretch, Arms, Leg, Core Strength, Improves Digestions. Creates extension of the entire spine. Calm the nervous system. This pose easily fit into any sequence as it is both a resting pose and a great transition pose.

Level : Beginner

Name : Plow Pose

Sanskrit Name : Halasana

Asana Keys :

Hips and shoulders in a same line, Cores engaged, Arms & shoulders support, Mind the neck

Benefits :

Abdominal muscles Strength, Stretches the back and the hamstring. Improves the blood circulation to the heart lungs and brain and stimulates the reproductive organs. Regulate the activities of the thyroid gland. 

Level : Intermediate
Name : Shoulder Stand

Sanskrit Name : Sarvangasana

Asana Keys :

Chin on the throat, Lift the legs up to lighten the pose, Pelvis above shoulder heels above hips, elbows in line with the shoulders. Mind the neck.

Benefits :

Spine, Neck, Shoulder Stretching, Core and Legs Strengthening, Metabolism Regulating. Improves body awareness, blood circulation to the brain and helps realigning the vertebras. Tranquilize the mind and relieve stress. Stimulates the thyroid gland. Generally balance nervous, reproductive, endocrine, respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems.

Level : Intermediate

Arm Balances

Name : Plank Pose

Sanskrit Name : Kumbhakasana

Asana Keys :

Legs & core engaged, Heels, hips and shoulders in a line, Shoulder blades spread apart. Elongate the back of the neck. Do not let the hips collapses.

Benefits :

Overall Muscle, Toning and Strengthening, Improves the posture. Helps remaining focused and improves concentration, without which maintaining this pose is not possible. Tone the cores, legs, shoulders and arms.

Level : Beginner

Name : Chaturanga

Sanskrit Name : Chaturanga Dandasana

Asana Keys :

Legs & core engaged, Don’t collapse on the shoulders & hips, Shoulders in line with elbows, Heels, hips, shoulders & neck in one line. 

Benefits :

Arms, Wrists, shoulders and Spine Strength, Strengthens and tone the core. Helps remaining focused and improves concentration. Help to understand and control the movements of the scapulas.

Level : Intermediate

Name : Upward Facing Dog

Sanskrit Name : Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Asana Keys :

Legs actives & hips off the floor, Elongate the spine, Core engaged, Chest open, Shoulders back in line with the wrists.

Benefits :

Back and Shoulder Strength, Chest Opening. Help to deep proper breathing, improve lung capacity and blood circulation around the body. Tone the cores, strengthen the arms, thighs and glutes. 

Level : Beginner

Name : Side Plank Pose

Sanskrit Name : Vasisthasana

Asana Keys :

Core engaged, Hips lifting up and above each other. Arms in a same line, Maintain balance, Mind the neck. 

Benefits :

Balance, Overall Body Strength, Concentration. Great preparatory pose for arm balances as it works on the wrists, arms shoulders, core, pelvic floor and balance.

Level : Beginner

Name : Crane Pose

Sanskrit Name : Bakasana

Asana Keys :

Look slightly forward, Knees under the armpits, Body weight forward and up, Tailbone upward, Cores engage, Elbows above wrists. Avoid to press the knees on the elbows.

Benefits :

Balance, Core and Upper Body strengthening, Overall Energizing. Strengthens the arms, wrists, elbows and shoulders. Tone the abdominal muscles. Improves concentration and  balance. Promote confidence

Level : Intermediate

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