If it can be stretched or bent, yoga has a pose for it. At its heart yoga aims to be a total workout. The limits to what can be included as parts of a yoga routine are the limited only by the imagination. Through the years, many different schools have been created, each with different yoga poses.
Some of the poses are obvious, like bends. Simple bends are the forward bend and the backward bend. There are many variations of this. For example, lying on the floor, a person is able to get into a wide variety of forward and backward bending poses of varying degrees of difficulty. The spine is also worked in the twists.
Runners are familiar with the lunging bends that work the glutes and quads. Yoga has a wide variety of poses that target all of the muscles of the legs.
Arms get worked with poses that stretch in ways not normally considered. One particular pose requires that one hand reach behind the back while the other reaches over the shoulder. Both hands grab each other as if shaking hands.
The abs get a special workout: Crunches are wonderful exercise but they do not begin to work the entire range of muscles in the abdomen. One exercise that is sure to make you the hit of your next party is one in which you isolate the muscles on either side of the stomach and make them roll, called “Nauli.”
Still other yoga poses target balance: Balance poses are designed to bring poise. Most of these are done standing, but a number of poses are performed inverted. You see many ads promoting machines that enable you get upside-down. Yogis knew the value of this practice thousands of years ago.
Yoga poses not only work the familiar muscles but muscles not normally used in traditional workouts. The Lion Pose, for example, has a person on their hands and knees with the head rolled back. The eyes and mouth are wide open and the tongue is pushed out as far as it can go.
The poses themselves are not always performed the same: Each school has its unique take on how different poses are used. Some schools are gentle while others are quite strenuous. Some emphasize proper alignment while others concentrate more on breathing. Some schools harken back to the ancient traditions of India, while others are fairly modern. If you are interested in starting yoga, there is sure to be a school for you.