At any given time, you can open your Instagram app to find a vast collection of yoga photos from around the world. How is this collection of yoga photos any different from a collection of photos that you might find in a yoga book? Well, the difference lies in the magic of having a centralized hub for a massive community of yogis to come together—a virtual platform for yogis to meet and inspire one another on a daily basis. In the inspirational world of Instagram, creativity runs rampant, and a traditional pose suddenly morphs into new and interesting shapes. It’s only natural that with many minds at work, many unusual variations of yoga poses will be born and shared.
Here are six of my favorite yoga pose variations that were inspired by Instagram posts. Without this social media platform, I’m not sure if I would have ever seen or attempted these postures. In 2015, I encourage you to get inspired, get excited, and add some variety to your practice. Perhaps these interesting variations will be the poses that you attempt this year.
Here’s a new arm balance for you to try. It starts out innocently enough as Elephant’s Trunk Pose (Eka Hasta Bhujasana). It then transforms into this funky shape when the top leg (which usually hooks over the shoulder) straightens, and the bottom leg wraps around an arm. If you are new to arm balancing, skip this pose and head right over to our crow pose tutorial, which is more appropriate for a first timer. Still unsure? Get inspired here.
If the elusive overhand grip is part of your practice, attempt this variation of bow pose, which comes complete with an arm scarf. If an overhand grip is not yet accessible, you can still receive the same heart-and-shoulder-opening benefits by practicing the five front-body stretching exercises presented here.
This looks like a standing split variation, but it makes most sense to start in lizard pose. Once in lizard pose, wiggle your front shoulder under your knee. If you feel comfortable with your shoulder under your knee, rise back up onto your hands and begin to straighten the front knee while simultaneously lifting the back leg from the ground. Once you find your balance, bend the lifted leg and reach for your foot with the opposite hand. This is an advanced pose that requires hip flexibility, hamstring flexibility, balance and strength. Is it necessary to ever achieve such a pose? Of course not. You will receive many of the same benefits by doing much more accessible hip stretches and hamstring stretches.
Once you’ve mastered the tripod egg headstand, challenge yourself by pressing the forearms together and pointing the hands away from one another. Remember—when practicing any inversion in the middle of a room, you must have an exit strategy! Stay safe, and have fun.
When you’re ready to take your compass pose to a whole new dimension, give this variation a try where both hands are planted on the ground and the hips are lifted from the mat. Still working on getting your leg over your shoulder? No problem. Skip this pose, and open up the hips. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself by getting into Elephant’s Trunk Pose.
Is it an inversion, an arm balance or some hybrid of the two? You decide. Start out in Fallen Angel pose, and then lift the bottom knee from the tricep. Feel free to stay in a hovering version of Fallen Angel or straighten the lower leg so that the foot points in the same direction that you are facing.