Home practice is hard. It’s only human to go through phases where you get distracted by the shiny, next, new challenge pose in your practice—or on the opposite end of the spectrum simply get stuck on your favorite feel-good sequence. And while you definitely don’t want to lose sight of goals or the sweet sensations that keep you coming back to your mat, it’s a good idea to take a critical eye to your practice now and then and look for the areas where you could strive for greater balance.
That’s what yoga is all about after all, and practitioners of every level can benefit from going back to basics regularly to reexamine the actions and alignment of foundational standing poses, backbends, forward bends, and inversions. So in honor of YJ’s 40th anniversary, I’ve compiled a list of poses that really stand the test of time—that is, 10 asanas every single yogi should be practicing on the regular. Here’s my top 10 list along with focus tips for beginner, intermediate, and advanced practitioners.
1. Garland Pose
This beautiful squat is one of my all-time favorite poses. Malasana releases the lower back, opens the hips, and turns the practitioner into a cute little nugget. Explore variations and tips on how to make this pose easier or how to go deeper.
It’s common for beginners to struggle with dropping their heels to the ground. Make sure to spin your heels in and toes out, as well as to widen your stance. If it irritates your knees to drop into a full squat, sit on one or more blocks.
Step up the hip-opening element of this pose by incorporating your arms. Lean forward to wiggle your upper arms to the inside of your legs. Draw your palms together in front of your heart and push your heart into your thumbs. This will naturally encourage external rotation and give you that extra ahhhh moment.
Full Malasana is traditionally performed with the feet together, knees wide, and the torso in a forward fold with either the arms extending or wrapped behind the heels. You typically see this pose done with feet wider than the hips (which is still my personal favorite to release my back and hips after a long day).