The 6 Most Difficult Yoga Poses
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Yoga poses vary in degree of difficulty from the calming and simple beginner Child pose to complex advanced asanas that may take years of practice to master. The more challenging poses are best attempted under the guidance of a certified teacher. Even then, not all poses are suitable for all people. You should check with your healthcare practitioner if there are any medical conditions that could be an issue in advanced yoga poses. For example, pregnant women are advised not to try Peacock pose because it places pressure on the abdominal area.
Peacock pose is very difficult, and practitioners who hope to master it will need superior athletic conditioning. In Peacock, most of your body weight will be supported by your wrists and elbows. When in the pose, your palms will be on the ground, fingers facing toward your feet. Your elbows should be resting against your abdomen. Your torso is balanced on your elbows, knees bent to your sides as you slowly lean forward, extending your legs outward so that they are almost straight. Hold the pose steady -- legs never touch the ground.
Visvamitrasana, the Pose Dedicated to Visvamitra, is a demanding, advanced asana that "Yoga Journal" warns may seem almost impossible to attempt. Even describing the pose is difficult. It starts with your back leg in a standing position. Your bottom arm is used as an arm balance while your torso and top arm are in a sidebend position. The front leg is approaching a split while you hold your front foot with your front arm. Visvamitrasana calls for superior balance and a strong torso, arms and legs.
King Pigeon pose is also called Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, or One-Legged King Pigeon IV. "Yoga Journal" calls this an advanced-level asana because successfully performing it requires mastery of a number of difficult poses first. You start with a split and arch your torso back, with your head bent at the neck to full extension. Use both hands to hold your back foot, and bring your back foot up and hold it against the top of your head. Bridge, Upward Bow, Two-Legged Inverted Staff pose and One-Legged King Pigeon pose I are all part of preparation to master One-Legged King Pigeon IV.
Downward-Facing Tree Pose
Downward-Facing Tree Pose -- or simply Handstand -- involves balancing your body on your hands while upside down with your legs extended toward the ceiling. It's a full inversion and isn't for everyone, so work with your yoga teacher to attempt it safely. Practice next to a wall as you balance yourself on your hands, palms-down and shoulder-width apart, step in with one foot, knee bent. Then sweep your extended leg up as you push off with the bent leg and push it up toward the ceiling so both extended legs are together. You will probably have to hop up the first few times to find your balance -- that's why the helpful wall is there. Eventually, you will be able to rise into the pose with more control.
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images