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.
See also Patanjali Never Said Anything About Yoga Selfies
10 “New” Yoga Poses
You won’t find this playful variation of Warrior II Pose in Light on Yoga. A fantastic side stretch, opening the intercostal muscles between each rib, Reverse Warrior has become a favorite among vinyasa flow teachers.
Believe it or not yogis weren’t “flipping their down dogs” in the ’70s. While the phrase “flip your dog” was popularized by Baron Baptiste, John Friend and his merry Anusara band are often associated with spreading Wild Thing as an ecstatic heart opener.
It wasn’t that long ago that our Pigeon Poses took to the water with the Mermaid variation of Eka Pada Rajakapotasana. Now a go-to pose for yogi photo ops near the sea, Mermaid Pose comes in multiple variations from standing to the front splits.
While the posture has been called Horse Stance in Tai Chi for centuries, yogis adopted the pose more recently. Aptly coined “Goddess Pose” in the yoga tradition, this pose just so happens to be great during pregnancy as well.
Fallen Angel Pose
A poetically beautiful pose that embodies the grace of an angel fallen from heaven, the asana is a departure from Side Crow Pose. However, while it appears that the yogi has gracefully fallen out of the pose, Fallen Angel takes a lot of shoulder strength to execute by placing very little weight on the side temple.
See also Challenge Pose: Fallen Angel
Baby Grasshopper Pose
A fun spin on the arm balance Grasshopper Pose, Baby Grasshopper is one of those tricky poses that’s a lot more do-able than it appears. Once you wrap your head around the steps, it’s actually fun, empowering, and great prep for the deeper version.
Flying Lizard Pose
Yogis love to lift off, turning even the simplest poses into an arm balance. It was only a matter of time before they figured out how to take flight in Lizard Pose with a strong shoulder snug of the front leg and hamstring engagement of the back leg to flick your tail into scorpion.
Humble Flamingo Pose
This tricky balancing pose on fingertips beautifully mimics the shape of a flamingo standing on one leg and embodies the power and grace of a dancer. Perfect for a pretty picture.
Camel-Frog Hybrid Backbend
There seem to be endless variations on Camel Pose, however, this Half Frog hybrid is making the biggest splash on social media. Bringing one foot up into half Bhekasana creates a more intense backbend, especially for the front of the body.
Hollow back variations of inversions, particularly in Forearm Stand, have been trending on social media. Moving the backbend deep into the thoracic spine, Hollow Back poses are not only aesthetically gorgeous they’re also a fantastic heart opener to do at the wall.