Yoga is a tremendous way to strengthen your body and improve your flexibility.
But, as with all bodyweight exercises, form is everything. Sometimes we need to make little tweaks to our yoga postures to take them to the next level for optimal results.
I’m going to share quick five-second fixes you can do to make six yoga poses even better.
I’m not a yogi, but when you understand biomechanics and how the body works, it’s pretty easy to see where some corrections to these yoga moves can be made.
Quick fixes for 6 Yoga Postures
1. Warrior 2
When you’re in Warrior 2 pose, you step into in a long lunge, your front knee aligned over your front foot, weight pressing into that back foot, body tall.
The fix for this yoga pose is to do your best to draw your front knee back a bit, so that it’s more in line with your hip, stretching through your groin. A lot of times, that front leg collapses inward because the inner-thigh and groin muscles are tight.
When you’re in this pose, you should be able to see your big toe when you look down toward your front foot.
2. Vinyasa Flow
When you are in the middle of a vinyasa flow, moving into upward-facing dog, it’s really important that your arms and shoulders are properly aligned.
Some people, when they do push-ups, push their elbows out to the side. However, in that position, our bodies don’t have good torque and stability around the shoulders.
Instead, in this flowing yoga move we want to keep our elbows tucked in, with the front crease of your elbow pointing forward. Not out to the side; keep it tucked in so that the “point” of your elbow joint is pointing behind you, toward your feet.
Your shoulders will be much more stable in this position, which will have a carryover effect for your overall strength and movement.
3. Runner’s Lunge
This is one of my favorite yoga postures. In Runner’s Lunge, you face forward in a long lunge, your front knee at 90 degrees, your back leg stretching being you, weight on your toe, your body angling forward at a 45-degree angle.
Here’s the fix for this pose: Drive that back knee up toward the sky, and make sure the back heel is right above the toe.
You don’t want to press into rear heel. Instead, it should be pointing up.
You want to feel fully extended, nice and strong. No matter the positioning of your hands in this pose, you want to make sure the back leg is as straight as you possibly can have it.
4. Thread the Needle
In Thread the Needle, you’re lying on your back, one leg crossed over the other, knee at 90 degrees.
For this one, we have a couple of options.
One is to reach through your legs to grab your thigh, and pull back against your hands to deepen the stretch. However, a lot of people end up losing integrity along their spines when they do this.
If that is you, what you can do is keep your foot on the ground and push the knee of the bent leg away from you, keeping tall through the length of your spine, both of your hip bones pressed into the floor.
You’re going to get a really nice opening in the piriformis on the side where the foot is planted on the floor.
5. Crescent Moon
Personally, this is my least favorite yoga poses because it’s the most challenging for me.
Here, we’re going to stand tall, feet under hips, knees soft, core engaged. We’re going to bring our hands together and interlace our fingers in a James Bond pose, and then bring our arms up overhead.
And next, we want to inhale and then, on an exhale, lean to the side.
From the side, your biceps muscles in your upper arms should be aligned beside your ears. Your palms should remain pressed together – the tendency is for there to be a gap between your hands.
As you reach to the side, be sure to squeeze the glutes, making sure you’re not twisting, your body is nice and square, facing to the front, not leaning forward or backward.
Really focus on keeping both arms straight, closing out your hands, and doing the best you can with that pose. It’s difficult – at least for me – and if you’ve got tight shoulders, you probably feel the same way.
6. Tree Pose
In Tree Pose, stand on one foot, with your opposite foot pressing against either your calf or your thigh (either above or below above the knee joint), our hands coming up by our heart.
What you want to do here is focus on opening the thigh of the leg that’s off the ground. As you do that, brace the core, tilt your tailbone under a little bit to activate the glutes and really strengthen that stance.
Open that thigh up so that the knee is pointing directly to the side.
You’re going to contract your glute on that side, nice and tall, and stay engaged.
Progress, Not Perfection
Those are a couple quick-fix solutions to some of the most common yoga postures.
Remember: It’s not about perfection; it’s about doing the best you can within your range of motion.
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Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.