There is absolutely nothing worse in asana practice than feeling bored and unchallenged. And if you are someone who practices often, or at home, getting into a yoga rut can be a relatively easy thing to do.
Rather than trying to find a whole roster of new postures or totally altering what you are doing in your practice, here are some fun yoga pose variations that will add a little spice and sparkle to keep your practice fun and challenging.
1. Bound Triangle
Triangle pose is one that most people are fairly comfortable with. In this variation, you are set up just like you would be in the traditional expression. Front heel is aligned with the back arch, bottom arm is along side the foot, on a block, resting on the shin or ankle, side body is extended long and the chest is rotating slightly towards the ceiling.
Then, instead of reaching the top arm up or tracking it along the ear, you will reach it behind your back, taking hold of the inner thigh of your front leg. This helps to increase the rotation on the upper body, opening the heart and chest. This added rotation adds a great chest and peck stretch that most of us can use!
2. Bound Half Moon
Half moon is already a pretty challenging pose for most, but if you are growing a little bored of the regular expression, you may really enjoy the bound version.
Start how you would in regular Half Moon pose; placing your bottom hand on the floor a foot or so in front of your front foot, leaning into your front arm until your back leg floats up off the floor, parallel to the ground, back foot flexed. Then take your top arm and wrap it around behind your back, again reaching for your inner thigh of the standing leg.
This little variation will add an extra balance challenge as well as an added opening for your upper body and shoulder.
3. Funky Boy Dog
This is one of my favorite Downward Dog variations ever. Start in Down Dog, feet hips distance apart, seat bones lifting towards the space where the wall and the ceiling meet behind you. Extend through your spine, releasing your shoulders down and away from your ears, fingers spread wide on your mat.
Then shift your weight to your right foot, lifting your left leg up and back behind you. Allow your left knee to bend, releasing your left foot towards your seat, opening your hips up to the left. Then release your right forearm down to the mat, keeping your left arm extended straight.
This is going to increase the side stretch you feel in this pose, and challenge your balance. Be sure to practice both sides before you move on.
4. Crossed Wrists Warrior One
Warrior One is already a slight heart opening posture, and this variation will increase that effect, creating a deeper opening across your chest and in your shoulders.
Your lower body will be just how it is in the traditional expression: back foot planted at a 30-degree angle, front leg lunging at 90 degrees, squaring the hips to the front of the room, and lifting the ribs up and away from the hips. From here, take your arms up and overhead, and cross your wrists so that the palms of your hands come together in a prayer position.
Then allow yourself to lean back slightly, opening the heart up to the ceiling. The crossing of the wrists helps to encourage a deeper release of the upper body back.
5. Reaching Squat
Finally, this variation of squat is really great for the whole body. It strengthens the hips and legs, stretches the spine and neck and will make you feel like a million bucks.
Come into your squat with either feet together or feet hips distance (or wider!) apart. See if you can allow your hips to really sink down towards the floor. Then reach your arms straight out in front of you and cross your wrists, bringing your palms to touch. From here, release your arms down and forward towards the floor, collapsing the chest and dropping the head in towards the heart. Pull the back of your heart back as you reach your arms forward. Hang out here for as long as feels good for you!
Do you have any favorite asana variations that you would like to add to this list? What do you do when you are feeling a little stagnant in your practice?