If you had to estimate the sheer number of yoga poses out there, what would you guess? 200? 300? More than 1,000? There is no way to know the exact number of asanas—not with creative teachers like YJ LIVE! presenter Kathryn Budig and Instagram yogis like Laura Kasperzak and Masumi Goldman continually impressing us with new spins on traditional poses.
How New Yoga Poses Are Born
“Innovation of the asanas ideally come out of a regular practice and exploring what feels good in your body,” explains Budig. “This creates interesting variations but also opens the door to stay playful.”
One thing is for certain: There weren’t this many poses around 40 years ago when Yoga Journal first went to print in 1975. In fact, YJ LIVE! presenter Dharma Mittra alone is credited with creating 300 of the 908 asanas and variations pictured on his Master Yoga Chart, published in 1984, while there were only 200 poses described in B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga (the undisputed bible of yoga asanas) published in 1966.
Forty-nine years later, yogis still aren’t done innovating. One scroll through the Instagram yoga community and you’re certain to come across at least one pose (and likely more) that wasn’t being practiced just a few short decades ago.
“Creativity becomes a part of approaching the physical practice at a certain point. Once you learn how the fundamental poses work anatomically then it’s very natural to start to play with breaking them apart and putting them back together differently,” explains YJ LIVE! presenter Alexandria Crow. “We are creative creatures by nature and trying and inventing things is what we love to do so of course we apply that to asana.”
Do Not Try Everything at Home
However, as much as we love trying new things, that doesn’t mean we should try everything we see on social media. As Crow pointed out, it’s crucial to learn and understand not only the standard asanas but also the anatomy and kinesthetics of the body before attempting extreme variations of yoga poses. And remember, as wonderful as social media can be, it’s always best to learn under the guidance of a teacher. Enough said.