Classic Asana, New Twist: 15 Traditional Poses + Variations

Putting a twist on your go-to poses can breathe new life into your practice. Try this sequence, packed with nontraditional variations on classic asanas.

Not only are traditional yoga poses enormously beneficial, they also have a rich history. And while it’s important to respect classic poses, it can also be fun to add variations to the time-tested asanas. Like taking a beloved family recipe and adding spices, herbs, or even a few new ingredients to create a flavor that appeals to your palate, putting a twist on your go-to poses can breathe new life into your practice, helping you access different muscle groups and simply making you smile and have more fun.

This sequence is packed with traditional poses, along with nontraditional variations on those asanas. Ideally, you’ll notice similarities between the classic pose and the “new” take, while also experiencing how each version opens up the body in its own, unique way.

Before you begin
Start with a seated meditation: Come to a simple cross-legged position and rest your hands on your thighs, sink your sitting bones into your mat, and lift your chest to elongate both sides of your waist. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and take a deep inhale, feeling your breath move all the way down toward your pelvis. Pause for a couple of seconds at the end of your inhale, and then slowly exhale from your chest all the way down toward your lower belly. Take a few more cycles of breath like this, and then open your eyes and make your way onto your hands and knees.