2 Yoga Poses To Challenge You

Does your yoga routine feel a bit stale these days? Have you been following a few of the same videos on your favorite online yoga website for a little too long now? Maybe you’re just not playing your edge, and it’s time to step things up a notch.

This is true for the most dedicated of yoga students. We all get busy with life and pretty soon, our daily sadhana has turned into a repetitive practice sans much variation. If this is the case for you, don’t worry! All you need to do is work on a couple challenging yoga poses each month to add some zest and challenge to your personal practice.


Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana)

Side crow is exactly what is sounds like—crow pose to one side. Crow pose and side crow fall within the yoga pose category of arm balances. They’re both challenging, but side crow is even more difficult than it’s more popular counterpart. If you can do crow pose, then you can definitely work your way into side crow. Like anything, it just takes practice.

To do side crow pose, follow these steps:

1. First, begin in tadasana, also known as mountain pose. From mountain pose, as if you’re moving through a sun salutation, raise the arms up on an inhale, and bend your knees to move into chair pose. In chair pose, be sure to keep your knees pointed forward and your legs together.

2. Next, move into twisting chair pose to the right. To do this, simply bring your hands into prayer pose and twist to the right, placing your left elbow along your right knee. Breathe deeply for a few moments in this pose, moving further into the twist with each breath.

3.. Now, keeping the chair twist, bend deeper, sinking your hips. Place your hands on the floor beside you, keeping your arms shoulder-distance apart with the hands spread.

4. Come up on your tippy toes while bending the elbows like in chaturanga to form a platform for your knees and thighs. Bringing your hips to the right a bit and pull up through the core. Tip forward as you bring your legs up off the floor and your heels towards your bottom.

5. Your knees should be directly on top of one another. Your shins should be parallel to the floor. Balance your knees on your right arm, making sure to steer clear of the actual elbow joint itself. Hold side crow for as long as you can, and fall out of it as many times as you wish! This is a pose that takes a lot of falling before you actually master it!


King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Pigeon pose is probably a staple in your typical yoga routine, which means you’re ready to integrate the variation called king pigeon pose, which is infinitely more challenging and fun! King pigeon requires a bit more stability in your legs and core, and a bit more flexibility in your spine, shoulders, and hips. But, if you’ve already mastered good ol’ pigeon pose, then you’re ready to begin! By the way, you’ll want to have a good yoga strap to assist you in your progress. Here’s what to do:

1. Make your way into pigeon pose. From this position, make a loop with your strap and place it around the arch of your back foot. Your back leg will be bent now and your spine will be arched.

2. Hold the belt with your hands, raising your arms towards the sky, while pressing your back foot against the strap. This will give you the resistance needed to bring your pelvis closer to the floor while giving your hip flexor a deep, deep stretch. Be sure to pull up through your center.

3. To challenge your arms and shoulders, gently work your hands down the strap, towards your foot. You may not reach your foot, but this is what you’re working towards. If you can reach your foot, you probably don’t need the strap. Wherever you are in the pose, breathe deeply and take it slow. Keep all the muscles in your eyes and face free of tension.

4. Come out of the pose gently by working your arms back up the strap, releasing the grip on the foot. Set the strap aside and work your way from pigeon pose into downward facing dog.

5. Repeat on the second side.

No judgment necessary

As with any practice, always enter it with an attitude that’s free of judgment and full of compassion. These are challenging poses, and you’re not going to get them right away. In fact, depending upon the shape of the body and your level of experience, they may take years to master. And that’s perfectly normal. Just have fun and go slow. Spicing up your yoga practice is worth it. You’ll always be glad you did. Integrating two new challenging poses into your yoga practice each month is an ideal way to go.

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Aimee Hughes

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Aimee Hughes is a health and spirituality writer, author of The Sexy Vegan Kitchen: Culinary Adventures in Love & Sex,…

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