Many people think yoga is just about stretching: touching your hands to your toes, lengthening the side of your neck, and twisting in the torso. And while, yes, this is a huge part of yoga, there is also another very athletic side to yoga as well that even borders along the lines of competitive gymnastics. There are many physically challenging postures in the yogic repertoire, but here are thirteen postures that are a bit too crazy to even attempt (unless, of course, you’re a super yogi yourself):
13 Tittibhasana B (Firefly B)
Oh hey, hamstrings. It’s a pleasure to meet you. This forward fold is so deep that not only do your hands reach to the floor, but also back through your legs so that you poke your head out the other side and interlace your fingers behind your back. Hips, shoulders and hamstrings need to be crazy flexible and the core needs to be super tight. This firefly pose is nothing short of crazy to be sure.
12 Sayanasana (Variation of Scorpion Pose)
In case balancing on your forearms isn’t challenging enough, why not make the pose super cutesy and draw your hands to your cheeks for an extra cheesy smile to go with it? Feeling bored of your simple super hard inversion? Kick it up a notch by balancing solely on your boney elbows. Because, why not? You’re a crazy yogi, too.
11 Yoganidrasana (Yogi’s Sleep Pose)
Helloooooooooo hips! This “sleeping” pose is anything but that to the average human being. Attempting to place both feet back behind the head would send any seemingly rational person running in the other direction. However, talented and flexible and very persistent yogis train and train to accomplish this position in a “resting” manner. Next time you’re feeling sleepy, just pop both legs behind your head and close your eyes…it’s the way yogis sleep, after all!
10 Pungu Mayurasana (Wounded Peacock Pose)
Just in case you find it a bit too easy to balance on your arms in one of the most challenging arm balances of the entire yogic practice, then, lucky for you, you can lift one hand off the ground. This one-handed arm balance is an unbelievably perfect counter balance of weight. But it’s not just that, it is also a pose that requires exceptional strength, balance, concentration, and, of course, lots and lots of practice and patience.
9 Kala Bhairavasana (Destroyer of the Universe Pose)
The name of this pose says it all: destroyer of the universe posture. I mean, come on, that already sounds too epic to even try. This ridiculously difficult side plank variation requires unbelievable flexibility (your foot is behind your head, for gods sake!) and incredible strength. No one is messing with anyone that can hold this pose for anything over 0.0000001 seconds. ;)
8 Niralamba Sirsasana (Unsupported Headstand)
There’s plenty of yogis that love to invert. Flipping your perspective and actually turning your world and your body upside down has so many wonderful benefits. However, most yogis (very smartly!) use the support of their hands and arms when they decide to flip upside down. Most yogis. But the craziest yogis of all, turn upside down using just the tops of their heads as resting ground against the floor. Don’t try this pose at home: this unsupported headstand takes incredible core strength, bandha (or locks inside the body) control, and, obviously, lots and lots of practice.
7 Urdhva Dhanurasana Variation (Chakra Bound Pose)
A solid backbend is good for the body. It opens the heart and expands the front body. This posture, however, takes backbending to another crazy level. Flexibility of the spine that is so mobile that you’re able to reach up and over and grab your ankles? Maybe next lifetime…
6 Mayurasana Variation With Bhekasana Legs (Peacock Frog Variation)
Okay, but really, where to even begin with this pose? Obviously, it’s a challenge in and of itself to balance your full body weight onto your hands. But what exactly is going on with her legs here and how, oh how, oh how, did she ever even get them into this position in the first place without popping out a kneecap? This crazy advanced variation of peacock pose with the legs in a frog pose position is definitely something that we all wish we even knew how to do.
5 Urdhva Dhanurasana Variation (Wheel Pose Variation)
This deep backbend may not look so crazy at first glance. But, go ahead, give it a try. I dare you. Meet your shoulders and upper back. I bet you’ve never felt anything like that before, now have you? Butt down, chest up. Butt down, chest up. You can just feel your heart stretching. Or is that it ready to explode? Proceed with caution: this posture is not for the faint of heart.
4 Eka Hasta Adho Mukha Vrksasana (One-Handed Handstand)
As if balancing upside down on your hands isn’t challenging enough, why not lift one of those hands up off the ground? One-handed handstand is certainly a yoga pose for the pros. Not only does a handstand take unbelievable balance, arm strength, core strength, and overall full-body control, turning that balance off center and aligning yourself off the midline over just one arm completely changes up the game. This is a pose that takes years to master and a lifetime to perfect.
For most people, plank pose (or a high push-up position) is tough. Creating a straight line from head to toe is definitely no easy feat. So, the mere idea of lifting the feet off the ground and balancing in a plank position while essentially levitating in the air is a whole other level of crazy. Planche pose is a posture of strength and balance and the perfect counterbalance of weight from the front to the back of the body to give onlookers the illusion of levitation. For super yogis only. ;)
2 Gandha Bherundasana (Formidable Face Pose)
Holy spine! This position is a backbend of epic proportions. So much flexibility and strength is required to reach your legs up to the sky behind you and then draw your feet back down to reach past your head to the floor so you can catch a hold of your ankles for a cute photo op. Bendy is an understatement here. Gumby would be proud.
1 Adho Mukha Vrksasana Variation (Hollowback Handstand)
Let’s just talk about control for a quick second. The amount of body control necessary to achieve this freestanding hollowback handstand position is otherworldly. Not only do you need an extremely flexible spine and crazy open shoulders, but you also need to be able to effortlessly balance in a straight handstand to then start throwing off your balance by releasing the weight of your legs and hips back behind you. Control is an understatement here. This is pure magic.