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The 10 Most Popular Yoga Poses on the Internet and How to Do Them

 

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Over the past 18 months, we’ve all been spending more time at home. We’ve exercised, stretched, and mobilised more than ever—but one discipline in particular has surged in popularity: yoga. 

 

It was, of course, popular before the pandemic, but rolling out a yoga mat and flowing through beginner’s poses brought about endless physical and mental benefits during a turbulent time. It kept people centred, calm and in control. And some people got good—really, really good.

Understandably, these yogis are keen to share their progress, posting to Instagram a lot. And that progress can help to inspire others to stretch their own potential. However, there are now plenty of posts, poses and Sanskrit names to discern and that can feel overwhelming. So, where to start?

We bring you 10 of the most popular yoga poses on the internet, from beginner poses to advanced poses, alongside expert tips and how-to’s from lululemon ambassadors Katarina Rayburn and Darvina Plante. They’re perfect for practicing at home and will provide you with new goals to work towards. Now, let’s get it om.

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10. Bow Pose

Number of online posts: 286,299
Sanskrit name: Dhanurasana
Difficulty level: Intermediate

This is a deep yoga pose that focuses on lying on your stomach and bending your back. You’ll work on opening your chest and shoulders, while improving your hip flexor function, too. Energising and uplifting, it’s great to practice when you are feeling flat, or to help wake you up in the morning. 

Katarina’s Expert Tip:
An intermediate yoga pose, Dhanurasana requires a lot of strength and flexibility. For beginners, think about straightening your arms and activating your legs, rather than bending at the elbows.

Darvina’s Expert How-to Tip:
Start lying on the belly, lift both of the shins up. Take the hands and hold the ankles. If this isn't available, take a strap or towel and hook around the instep of both feet. From there, start to kick into the hands or strap, lifting the quads up off of the earth, aiming to lift the lower ribs up off of the mat also. If you are using a strap try to keep the elbows towards the ears. Find your balance and hold here for five breaths.

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9. Side Plank

Number of online posts: 289,010 
Sanskrit name: Utthita Vasisthasana 
Difficulty level: Intermediate 

This pose will help you to strengthen your core, arms and legs, while working on the flexibility of your back and legs. Classed as an intermediate move, beginners needn’t be put off—there are plenty of regressions and progressions to ensure you benefit, no matter your level. 

Katarina’s Expert Tip:
This pose is difficult, but easily modified by dropping the bottom knee to the ground for extra stability. That way everyone can receive the benefits of this brilliant side stretch.

Darvina’s Expert How-to Tip:
Start in a high plank. Then coming on to the outer edge of that right foot and stack the left foot on top. Extend the left arm skywards. Keep the hips raised. There’s an option to stay here – an option to bend the left knee or take a bind of the big toe for a more advanced expression.

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8. Lotus Pose

Number of online posts: 355,721 
Sanskrit name: Padmasana 
Difficulty level: Advanced 

This is another ancient asana with several scalable positions to suit individual flexibility and strength levels. Padmasana, however, is not a beginner's yoga pose. It involves a level of external rotation of the hips that isn’t possible for some people. Take this one slowly.

Katarina’s Expert Tip:
I would recommend having an established, regular yoga practice for a few years so that you are fully aware of what your body can do and what feels safe. There should be no discomfort in the knee, and it’s best attempted when the body is very warm – most probably at the end of your practice.

Darvina’s Expert How-to Tip:
Start sitting with legs bent in front of you. Begin with whatever foot feels more comfortable and bring the heel of that foot in towards your hip, nice and high into the crease. Now bring the other foot up and lift it into the opposite hip crease. If the knees are lifted from the ground you may wish to put blocks or blankets under to support you. The hands can also come either side of the pelvis to then push the hands into the mat and lift the knees towards your shoulders.

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7. King Pigeon 

Number of online posts: 433,329 
Sanskrit name: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana 
Difficulty level: Intermediate

Often referred to as the pigeon pose, this is not to be confused with the pigeon stretch, often used in post-run cooldowns. This pose takes some getting used to and is a movement that lends itself well to yoga accessories, including straps (around the rear foot) or a yoga block under the hip for additional support.

Katarina’s Expert Tip:
This pose involves an external rotation of the hip, so starting with a block under the front glute keeps this hip up, which provides extra stability while you increase your flexibility. Forgo the block and your form risks collapsing to one side.  

Darvina’s Expert How-to Tip:
Start in a pigeon stretch position on the floor with the right leg bent in front of you. Some of us might draw the heel closer to the hip – some that have a bit more space will move the foot so it draws in line with the knee. Now lift the left leg up behind you, squeezing the foot in towards the bum. The left hand may reach back to find the foot. Maybe the right arm reaches above, or you can wrap a strap around the instep of the foot and bring the arms up and over your head.

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6. Crane Pose 

Number of online posts: 508,638 
Sanskrit name: Bakasana 
Difficulty level: Advanced 

With over half a million tags on Instagram, Crane pose is incredibly popular, and for good reason. It requires a large degree of patience, balance and upper-body strength, targeting your arms and core, plus your wrists, glutes and shoulder stabilisers. 

Katarina’s Expert Tip:
I would recommend having an established regular yoga practice for around one to two years before trying this pose. For beginners, make sure to not have your hands too far apart or knees too low and always remember to engage your core and shoulders fully.

Darvina’s Expert How-to Tip:
Ensure you are warmed up before attempting this posture. Coming to a crouched position, hands out in front of you, bend the elbows back like chaturanga arms. Bring the knees forwards to rest on the backs of the triceps. Keep looking forwards and start to lift one foot off the ground, maybe the other coming into crow pose. From there start to slowly straighten the arms for Crane pose.

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5. Crow Pose

Number of online posts: 549,779 
Sanskrit name: Kakasana 
Difficulty level: Intermediate 

Immensely popular, Crow is one of the first arm balances many aspiring yogis seek to master. It’s very similar to Crane, but there are a few key differences. Here, your arms are bent at an angle, rather than fully straight. “It’s an intense arm balance that involves a lot of strength in the arms and core,” says Rayburn.

Katarina’s Expert Tip:
Work on other strengthening poses such as high and low plank first – this will help build the strength you need.

Darvina’s Expert How-to Tip:
Inhale, sweep the arms up. Exhale, swan dive and bend the knees as much as you need. Look in towards the belly. Look forwards and inhale. Plant the hands ahead of you. Start to bring the knees in towards the armpits. Lean forwards, looking forwards. Maybe one foot lifts off, maybe both feet lift off. Find your moment of balance and hold it for five.

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4. Camel Pose 

Number of online posts: 559,831 
Sanskrit name: Ustrasana 
Difficulty level: Intermediate 

This is a lovely expression of a heart opening pose, says Rayburn. And it’s another energising and uplifting move to add to your practice when you’re looking for some extra get-up-and-go in your day. Just remember to only really lean into it when you’re fully warmed up.

Katarina’s Expert Tip:
The key thing here is to avoid collapsing into the lower back, so contract your glutes to add some stability and protect it. This pose is easily modified for beginners, too, so there’s no reason to push for the full expression – with hands on your heels or at heart centre – unless you’re totally ready. 

Darvina’s Expert How-to Tip:
In kneeling, tuck your toes and take a deep breath in. Slowly start to track your gaze up and back and reach back to your heels. If you want to, bring your hands up in front of you to heart-centre. Always looking for as much length through the side body as possible. Take the seat to the heel or take a child’s pose to counter.

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3. Tree Pose 

Number of online posts: 649,782 
Sanskrit name: Vrikshasana 
Difficulty level: Beginner 

Finally, a beginner-friendly pose positions itself into the top 10. Vrikshasana is perfect for those starting their yoga journey and people can attempt it straight away, says Rayburn. You’ll build balance, force yourself to focus and clear your mind, plus you’ll work on unilateral (one-sided) strength that’ll benefit plenty of other poses in your practice. 

Katarina’s Expert Tip:
To help you master the popular yoga move, be sure to focus on one point in front of you to find your balance and ground your standing leg. Don’t put your foot on your knee – the pressure is unsafe. Beginners start on the calf. Experts can progress to the upper thigh.

Darvina’s Expert How-to Tip:
Starting standing with both feet grounded. Bring the right foot in towards the opposite leg. It can either rest on the calf or the upper thigh. Know that the hand can be used on a wall for extra support. Then bring your hands to heart-centre and – if you like a challenge – allow your eyes to close.

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2. Wheel Pose

Number of online posts: 697,542 
Sanskrit name: Chakrasana 
Difficulty level: Advanced 

Another classic yoga pose, instantly recognisable for its unique silhouette. This is a very intense posture that involves a lot of strength and good flexibility through the whole body. Rayburn warns, though, that the anatomical structure of some people’s shoulders may prevent them from ever mastering this move.

Katarina’s Expert Tip:
Working on bridge pose first will help build strength and flexibility and using blocks under the hands or feet can help make wheel pose more accessible. If you’re struggling in the poses, you may have your hands and feet too close together – engaging your hamstrings and glutes can also help. 

Darvina’s Expert How-to Tip:
Start lying on the back and bring your knees up – feet planted on the floor. See if you can tickle the heels. Bring your hands towards your ears and plant them into the mat with fingers pointed towards the feet. When you push into the hands try to keep the elbows drawn in. Push through the feet too and lift up into the pose. Once up, try to keep engagement in the glutes and hamstrings and maybe even place a block in between the thighs to ensure engagement. Bend the elbows to lower yourself slowly and under control.

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1. Headstand

Number of online posts: 2,053,674 
Sanskrit name: Salamba Shirshasana 
Difficulty level: Advanced 

Featuring in more than two million posts on Instagram, this pose is head and shoulders above the rest. Headstand is an advanced inversion and like most advanced poses in yoga, it depends on your flexibility and strength. Importantly, it brings your head below the heart, which has a calming and grounding effect on the mind. It can be done at any time, but if you’re feeling particularly stressed or overwhelmed then this pose can help. 

Katarina’s Expert Tip:
You’ll need to practice yoga regularly for around a year in order to build strength in your shoulders before trying headstand. When trying it for the first time, use a wall for support and never jump into it. If you’re struggling, it may be because you’re not engaging your shoulders or that your elbows are too far apart.

Darvina’s Expert How-to Tip:
From kneeling, interlace the hands and place them and your forearms on the floor in front of you. Although this is a headstand, think of it and a forearm stand. Bring your head down between your arms, lift your back up, tuck the toes and walk the feet in. From here, lift one foot up, then the next. Don’t jump into the stand. Maybe you keep the legs bent. If you want to progress, gradually extend the feet overhead. Hold for as many breaths as works for you. Split the legs and bring one to the floor to lower slowly out of the pose. If you feel that you are about to fall out of this pose tuck the head and do a roly poly.

Inspired to hit the mat? You’re not alone. Whether you’re finding your flow to alleviate stress, build flexibility or to learn a new skill, the benefits of practicing yoga at home are limitless. To start your journey, head to our yoga space, where you’ll find home yoga tips, a guide on what to wear and follow-along online practices.

 

Methodology 

To collate this list, lululemon collated 50 yoga poses and cross-referenced each move with the number of hashtags posted with the Sanskrit name and common name, in order to determine the poses that people are most proud to share on Instagram. Data is correct as of July 2021. lululemon ambassador Katarina Rayburn categorised them into beginner, intermediate, and advanced yoga exercises.