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If you’re on Instagram, you’ve probably seen some of the innovative takes on traditional asana. These 10 creative practitioners tested their limits this year while turning asana into an art form. Even if many of us never will (or should) strike these advanced challenge poses, we can be inspired by their reminder of an important yogic principle—to explore, to play, and to laugh when we fall.
Plot Twist Pose
Laura Kasperzak from Two Fit Moms found this full-body stretch inspiration from @fitqueenirene. Kasperzak jokingly suggests trying this pose on a surface other than concrete for obvious reasons. We think this shoulder-and-hamstring stretch hybrid looks like a super-relaxing pose to take when you have your nose buried in a book this holiday season. (Not.)
Tail-Shedding Lizard Pose
Irene Pappas’ #werkthatshape Instagram challenge had yogis entering a series of interesting asana concoctions. Pappas says this Lizard pose variation (which looks to us like it’s shed its tail!) can be practiced with or without your leg behind your head and to try using a strap for the bind to start and padding under the knee.
Upside-Down Dancer Pose
Costa Rica-based yogi, Steph Gongora, is always kicking up into inversions on her Instagram account. Because one-handed Handstand isn’t challenging enough, her unique version adds a Dancer foot grab and backbend.
Sleeping Crane Pose
As yogis, we’re pretty impressed that real, live Cranes sleep standing on one leg with their heads tucked under their wings. We think this variation on traditional Crane Pose is reminiscent of that position. We’re still practicing the original, though, sans Finland-based Thuy Luu’s Foot-Behind-the-Head addition!
Upward-Facing Shiva Splits
We’ve been noticing #shivapose make an appearance on our Instagram feed a lot lately, and Kiara Scurasl’s variation makes the stretch even deeper and challenging. This pose looks like a mix of Birds of Paradise, Compass Pose,Hanumanasana, and Purvottanasana to us (in case you’re looking for warm-up ideas).
Feather-Fanning Peacock Pose
Yoga Revealed podcast creator Andrew Sealy’s feed is covered in inspiring and beautiful asanas. This beautiful Mayurasana–Eka Pada Koundinyasana I hybrid looks to us like the Peacock is fanning its feathers. “Arm balances are the way to go when it comes to finding your alignment while harnessing the power of your breath,” Sealy wrote in his post.
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Ashley Galvin is maxing out her bang for the buck in this creation, offering the backbending benefits of Bridge Pose, the inversion goodness of Viparita Karani, and the outer thigh and hip stretch of Garudasana. The beauty of the creative asana is just an added bonus.
Reverse Tripod Tabletop
Have you ever heard your yoga teacher joke that to up-level a pose, just add a smile? But don’t be fooled by Caitlin Turner’s seemingly effortless tranquility in this extreme pose. Any asana with a Foot-Behind-the-Head element should only be attempted by the bendiest of the bendy advanced practitioners with a proper warm-up.
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Tight-hipped yogis, you can be mermaids too. Koya Webb takes the hips out of the equation and adds a balance and concentration challenge in this unique variation of Mermaid.