5 Essential Hatha Yoga Poses and Their Benefits

Hatha yoga is a broad category that encompasses any yoga practice that has an element of movement. Classes labeled as hatha yoga will often incorporate basic yoga poses and movements, while more advanced practitioners may take on specific niches within hatha yoga such as Bikram yoga, power yoga, or vinyasa yoga.  

Whether you are new to yoga or you are an advanced practitioner, adding a few hatha yoga poses to your repertoire can help you deepen your practice! Check out these 5 essential hatha yoga poses to add to your routine.

hatha yoga poses downward dog1. Downward Dog

Downward Dog is a foundational hatha yoga pose that practitioners will use in all levels of yoga. This pose acts as a starting point for many other poses. To take this pose, start in tabletop position or child’s pose. Next, use your arms to push your body off the ground and send your hips toward the sky. Be sure to engage your core and keep your arms and legs straight and strong. Some benefits of downward dog include:

  • Increasing blood flow to your brain because the pose puts your heart above your head. This additional blood flow can help increase brain function and reduce depression and anxiety.
  • Lengthening your hamstrings and calves making it a great stretch after a run, climb, or other type of workout.
  • Creating a stretch through your back and shoulders

hatha yoga poses camel pose2. Camel Pose

Camel pose should also be on your list of hatha yoga poses. To take camel pose, start in a kneeling position with your arms at your sides. Stretch up tall through your shoulders and let your head fall back and open through your upper body. You may reach your arms behind you and let them dangle or grab your ankles for a deeper stretch! Some reasons to try this pose include:

  • Relieving tension in your lower back
  • Acting as an introductory backbend and helps keep your spine in line
  • Offering a great heart-opening stretch and chance to loosen your shoulders
  • Creating an opportunity to engage your core and glutes in a core-opening stretch

hatha yoga poses tree pose3. Tree Pose

If you are looking for a hatha yoga pose to hone your balance, give tree pose a try! To take this pose, start in tadasana — or mountain pose. You should be standing tall with your feet together.

On an inhale, lift one leg so your foot rests on your opposite calf or thigh. Be sure not to bring your foot to your knee as that can be bad for your knee joint. Once you have found your balance on one foot, lift your arms into a prayer position in front of you. You may also try lifting your arms up above your head to find more length in this pose! Take a few breaths on your first foot, then switch sides. Benefits of tree pose include:

  • Building strength in your ankles and calves
  • Helping open your hips and upper thighs
  • Giving you a chance to practice balance and coordination
  • Using your core muscles to keep your body stabilized
  • Acting as a grounding pose to help you feel more connected to the earth

hatha yoga poses butterfly bound angle on back4. Bound Angle or Butterfly Pose

Bound angle pose, also called butterfly pose, gives you a chance to stretch their inner thighs. To take this pose, start in a seated position. Next, move your legs in front of you with your feet touching and your knees pointing outward to either side. Keep your upper body straight and tall. You may also try reaching your palms onto the ground in front of you to deepen your stretch and add a lower back stretch as well.

Taking this pose while lying on your back body is another modification to try. To do reclined butterfly pose, bring your feet together and let your knees fall to the sides while you are lying on your back. This will give you another way to open your hips and thighs while stretching through your upper body. Some reasons to try this pose include:

  • Offering a great stretch in your inner thighs, groin, and knees
  • Making your body more comfortable in seated meditation poses by opening your hips and knees.

Lying on your back during this pose can soothe menstrual discomfort and digestive issues while fostering blood flow and openness through your stomach and hips.

5. Corpse Pose

Hatha yoga is not only about stretching and soothing your body- it can also be a simple way to ease your mind! Corpse pose offers a chance to create mental space and give your body a rest at the beginning or end of a yoga practice.

To do corpse pose, lay down on your mat with your arms at your sides and palms facing upward. Try to pull your shoulders away from your ears and keep your hips and legs flat on the ground. In this pose, close your eyes and make an effort to focus on your breath. You may also try visualizing a peaceful place while in this pose! A few benefits of practicing this hatha yoga pose include:

  • Helping you bring your mind into a meditative state. This is an especially good way to help your mind transition into your yoga practice and back into your day after your workout.
  • Reducing blood pressure and anxiety through slowing your breathing and lowering your heart rate.
  • Giving you an opportunity to improve your focus and concentration.

Using hatha yoga poses is a great way to get your body moving while building strength and flexibility. To continue exploring hatha yoga learn about how long you should hold hatha poses and try Alo Moves‘ Hatha Bliss with Talia Sutra!

Megan Herndon

Megan is a Seattle-based writer who covers health and wellness. She has worked in content marketing and journalism for a number of organizations including The Seattle Globalist, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and The Jakarta Globe. She has a BA in journalism from the University of Washington and is currently working on her second UW degree, a Master of Communication and Digital Media. Born and raised in Hawaii and currently embracing the Pacific Northwest lifestyle, Megan loves all things active and outdoors including hiking, camping, outrigger canoe paddling, and yoga.

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