Parivrtta Adho Mukha Svanasana (Revolved Downward-Facing Dog)
The benefits: This pose is fantastic for strength building as you are getting all the benefits of traditional downward dog, but with extra massaging and toning of the inner organs as a result of the twisting. It also increases blood flow and rejuvenates the nervous system.
How to do it: Take a slightly shorter downward dog stance so that you can comfortably root your heels into the earth, then reach under your chest with your hand to take hold of your opposite ankle or shin. As you exhale, revolve your ribcage towards to ceiling and take your gaze underneath your armpit. This is full-body stretching at its best! Aim to deepen your twist with each exhale, and repeat on both sides.
Tip: Be mindful to twist from the waist, not the lower back, so that your sacrum remains flat and you still feel a deep sense of rooting through tailbone down to the heels.
Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior 3)
The benefits: A pose to tone and invigorate the whole body, Warrior 3 demands a large degree of concentration! It is a challenging balance that strengthens muscles as well as improving your core awareness.
How to do it: After finding your point of focus somewhere on the ground in front of you, soften your gaze and start to raise your chosen leg. Flexing and energising through your back heel as soon as it leaves the ground will really help to stabilise and encourage the hips to remain level. Work towards taking your arms, torso and raised leg all parallel to the ground and eventually you will start to feel a sense of lightness as your legs find an equal balance of effort and energy.
Tip: Reach forward through the crown of the head and take out any compression or stiffness from the neck so that it follows in a lovely straight line from the spine.
Parivrtta Hasta Padangusthasana (Revolved Hand-To-Big-Toe pose)
The benefits: With a combination of balancing and twisting, this pose is especially good at helping you build focus (and patience!) in your asana practice. It requires a firm foundation and good support through your feet, and once again gives the internal organs a nice cleanse as you twist from the waist.
How to do it: It’s important to keep your spine long and chest open here, so if your back starts to round as you extend your leg then you can modify the pose by keeping your knee bent and holding the outside of the thigh instead of the foot. Energise out through the back fingertips and, if you feel steady, take your gaze to out beyond them as well.
Tip: Remember to breathe! We have a tendency to hold our breath during balancing poses, however, it is through your breath that you will find length in the spine and concentration in the mind.
Vasisthasana (Side plank)
The benefits: This can be a fairly challenging pose for a lot of people, as it calls for a lot of core strength as well as strength in the wrists, arms and shoulders. It can be modified, however, by dropping the bottom knee down to the mat – this is where you should start if you find that your hips are sinking down when you have both legs extended.
How to do it: With your body in a straight line, push the mat away with your supporting hand, open through the chest and feel a strong line of energy radiating all the way up through your torso and out of your top fingertips. Take it a bit further by playing with leg variations, such as raising the top leg or even taking it into tree pose (pictured).
Tip: Engaging your core as much as possible here will really help with your balance – power up through the arms and don’t worry if there’s wobble, it just means your muscles are working!