If you had known how much yoga can help your older self, you wouldn’t dare skip a yoga session now. Yoga is an incredible tool anyone can make use of to improve flexibility —physically and mentally. The awareness is on both physical as well as mental balance.
To prevent falls and injuries (especially when you are older), you need to practice more standing yoga poses. By building strength in the lower body, you can build active flexibility throughout your hips and upper leg. Some of these standing yoga poses mentioned below can be frustrating, especially for a beginner. But if you don’t practice those poses, you will never be able to improve your balance.
Have You Tried These 7 Standing Yoga Poses Yet?
- 1 Have You Tried These 7 Standing Yoga Poses Yet?
These 7 standing yoga poses can help you maintain and improve balance, correct your posture, and control the deep core muscles in your back, abdomen, and legs. Also, they can improve blood circulation (particularly in the head and legs) which can prevent many conditions such as cervical pain, deep vein thrombosis, and more. Moreover, it has anatomical and therapeutic benefits(1); breathing slowly and steadily in these active poses can calm and clear your head.
Your poses don’t have to be static, you can bring variations to your poses as well. Always keep in mind to not overstretch, use an elastic yoga sock to avoid cramps in the arch of your feet, and don’t hesitate to take the support of a wall or to use a strap to perfect your poses in the beginning. To avoid the risk of falling and to comfortably master the poses, you have to listen to your body and take it slowly.
Mountain Pose — Tadasana
What can a mountain pose (mere standing) do to your body? This active pose is more than just standing, it can help you find your balance and correct your posture. It is often regarded as one of the most important poses in all of Yoga. It is usually the first pose done in any session of standing poses because it is the foundation for alignment, focus, and balance for every other pose —even seated and reclined poses. You can clear your head and be aware of your whole body with this pose.
By practicing Tadasana, you can notice the minor imbalances and postural patterns and correct them to avoid physical and mental strain. By feeling your weight balanced on your feet while elongating your spine, you can strengthen your legs, ankle joints, and abdominals while taking the pressure off the hips, lower back, and knees. Also, if you can breathe and meditate in Mountain Pose, you can maintain the breathing throughout other poses. Be careful not to slump your body while standing.
Time: 30 seconds to 1 minute
- Stand with your feet together with your big toes touching and arms by your sides.
- Roll the balls of your feet and spread your toes.
- Rock back and forth and side to side, then stand with your weight balanced evenly on the feet.
- Turn your upper things slightly inward and lengthen your tailbone toward the floor.
- Roll your shoulder blades back and widen them across your back.
- Widen your collarbones and neck while relaxing your jaw.
- Keep your chin parallel to the ground and tongue wide and flat on the floor of your mouth.
- Breathe slow and deep for a minute and try the next posture.
Tree Pose — Vrksasana
We have all tried this pose at least once in our life. When I was a kid, I assumed this was an advanced level pose and often took pride in being able to stay in the pose for longer than a few minutes. But this is a beginner pose anyone can try if they pay attention to every part of their body.
This pose will help to build on the alignment from Tadasana by forming a postural asymmetry. By balancing your weight on one leg, you are cutting the base of support in half. Meaning, you are improving concentration and maintaining balance. Additionally, you are strengthening your spine, thighs, calves, ankles.
Time: 5 deep breath cycles
While standing in this pose, your leg might start to wobble. Focus on where it is wobbling and try the pose more frequently. Make sure to keep your spine straight with your hips and pelvis tucked under. Do not stand with one side sticking out. This standing yoga pose is important for the older age group to maintain mobility.
- Stand straight in a Mountain Pose.
- Shift the weight onto the left foot and lift and bend the right knee.
- With the bent knee, open the right hip to the right side of the body.
- Reach down to your right ankle, bring it up with your right hand, and place your right foot on the side of the left inner thigh.
- Keep the foot in such a way that your toes are pointing down toward the floor. Press the sole of your right foot against the inner thigh firmly while pressing the left inner thigh into the sole of the right foot.
- You can either press your hands in a prayer pose in front of the chest or lift them up towards the ceiling and clasp your hands above your head.
- Breathe steadily for five complete breath cycles and repeat on the other leg.
Pro tip: Do not place your foot on your knee joint at any time. This can change your joint’s position. Always keep your foot on your inner thigh.
Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe — Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
This pose classifies under intermediate standing postures. For beginners, this pose could be difficult, especially curling the fingers around the toe while standing straight. But with a firm balance and practice, you can excel in this pose.
This pose can help you in opening your hips, increasing hip flexibility, toning hips and thighs, relieving tight hamstrings, strengthening feet, ankles, legs, arms, and abdomen muscles, improving posture and concentration. It requires awareness of grounding physically and spinal alignment to stabilize the body for balancing and extending. Don’t forget that if your butt is far too back or your hip is jutted out, you will lose your balance.
Time: 30 seconds
- Stand straight and tall in Mountain Pose and fix your eyes at a point ahead parallel to your eye level.
- Shift your body weight onto the left leg and lift your right leg up close to your belly.
- Keep your left hand on the left hip. Then, interlock the two fingers of the right hand between the big toe of the lifted leg.
- Inhale and extend the right leg horizontal to the ground while stretching the right arm.
- Bring the extended right leg to the right side while opening the right hip.
- Steady and balance your body in the pose, then shift your gaze and head to the left side. Keep your spine straight and shoulder wide.
- Breathe and hold the position for 30 seconds.
- Inhale and swing your right leg back to the center, exhale and bring it down, and repeat on the other leg.
Pro tip: If you can’t reach your toes, keep your leg bent and hold on to your knee. You can use a strap as well instead of your fingers.
Triangle Pose — Utthita Trikonasana
Although it appears to be a beginner level posture, Triangle Pose can be a bit difficult for a beginner. If you can master this pose, you can control and strengthen the small muscles that stabilize the lower back and hips. You can also gently stretch your sciatic nerve(2), inner thighs, tight hamstring, groin, and the side of the torso while opening the chest and shoulders.
Additionally, this pose helps in digestion since it massages the intestines and opens the chest and lungs to improve breathing. To avoid straining the hips or knees, do not push this pose too hard. You can use the wall for support as well. Any minor alignment change in the hips or feet can be felt throughout the entire body.
Time: 5 breath cycles
- From a Mountain Pose, step out your left leg to a wide stance with your toes out to a 45-degree angle. Make sure the feet are aligned heel to heel to arch.
- Inhale, open, and extend your arms out to a T shape.
- Exhale and bring the right arm to your right shin or ankle, or to the outside of your foot.
- Inhale and roll your left shoulder back as you extend your left hand upwards. Your palm must be facing away from you.
- Turn your head upward and gaze towards the outstretched hand. If this is uncomfortable, keep your head neutral.
- Engage your right thigh muscles upward to deepen the crease in your right hip.
- Breathe five complete breath cycles. Repeat on the other leg.
Pro tip: Keep your right leg straight and do not bend your knee. To avoid putting pressure on the joint, make sure to not rest your hand directly on your knee.
Dancing Pose — Natarajasana
Though it appears to be effortless, the Dancing Pose requires not only balance and concentration but also strength, flexibility, and grace. Also referred to as Lord of the Dance, this pose can improve balance, strengthen the spine, abdominal muscles, legs, and arches of the feet, and increase lung capacity.
It works the muscles of your back, legs, and core. The proper alignment this pose requires can improve your balance in the long term. This is one among the standing yoga poses where the posture level can be changed from intermediate to advanced by stretching the leg more —above your head.
Time: 30 seconds to one minute
- Start with a Mountain Pose, shift your weight onto the left leg, and lift your right leg with the heel towards your buttocks.
- Swiftly take hold of the inside of your right ankle with your right hand.
- Inhale, lift your left arm toward the ceiling while opening your chest and upper back.
- Exhale and extend your right leg back slowly while pressing your right foot into your right hand. Bend your back down simultaneously.
- Keep your gaze forward and chin parallel to the floor.
- Hold the pose while breathing steadily and repeat on the other leg.
Pro tip: Keep your hips squared and facing forward. Make sure one is not higher than the other. If you contract your quadricep muscles, your body will let you hold the pose longer.
Warrior III Pose — Virabhadrasana
This pose can help your balance while standing upright. Warrior III has variations from Warrior I and II and is a bit advanced from them. It not only requires the engagement of the one standing leg but also the entire back body —including the legs, buttocks, back, and shoulders. While elongating and stretching the spine and legs, it can strengthen your abdomen and legs and improve balance and concentration.
- Stand in a Mountain Pose with your hands on the hips. Shift your body weight to the front foot and hing at the front hip.
- Slowly bend your torso forward while simultaneously lifting one leg backward until they are parallel to the floor.
- Keep your back foot flexed or pointed and extend your arms straight ahead. If you bring your heel up higher in the back, you can balance more.
- Stay in the pose for three breath cycles and switch legs.
Pro tip: Feel the body elongate and lengthen from your fingertips to the sole of your foot. Keep your hips squared. Do not bend either knee.
Eagle Pose — Garudasana
An Eagle Pose might seem too difficult to try. But it is a fun pose and once you get the right pose with steady balance, you can bag all the benefits. Steadiness, alignment, and balance of the pose stay in the position of the elbows, knees, and hands —the center of the body.
It can strengthen your leg muscles and ankle, improve strength and flexibility of the upper back, and increase the flexibility of shoulders, arms, legs, and hips.
Time: Five breath cycles
- Start with a Mountain Pose and spread the tools to root your feet into the ground. Keep your knees soft and shift your weight into the left leg.
- After making the right leg light and soft, inhale, and wrap it around the left leg.
- Exhale and bend the knees. The top of your right foot should be resting on the left calf while your right thigh should be in front of the left thigh.
- Bring your left arm over the right arm and bend the elbows.
- Wrap the left forearm around the right forearm and bring the palms together in front of the nose.
- Breathe slowly for five cycles, then bend the left knee and bring your right toe down to the floor.
- Inhale and straighten your legs, exhale and release the arms down. Repeat the other side as well.
Pro tip: Concentrate on your breathing and count each inhaling and exhaling while holding the pose. Keep your gaze steady at a fixed spot —eye level.
There are tons of standing yoga poses to improve balance, build strength, and increase flexibility. And all of them are incredible with both mental(3) and physical benefits. Not to mention, many of the poses can generate heat and help you burn calories while others offer additional cardiovascular benefits, improving heart function, lung capacity, respiration, and blood circulation. Try these 7 standing yoga poses to bag the benefits and your older self will be grateful for sure!
- Springer Nature Switzerland. (2020). The biomechanical demands of standing yoga poses in seniors: The Yoga empowers seniors study (YESS). [Online] Available at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/1472-6882-13-8
- Veritas Health, LLC. (1999 -2020). Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica. (n.d). [Online] Available at https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sciatica/sciatic-nerve-and-sciatica
- Veritas Health, LLC. (1999 -2020). Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica. (n.d). [Online] Available at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00752/full