Nobody’s Head-Over-Heels for Every Yoga Pose. Here Are 10 Asana Alternatives

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Yoga is a force to be reckoned with. The 10,000-year-old practice has built a reputation as an accessible exercise that welcomes practitioners of any age. Beyond loosening tight muscles, some claim yoga has the power to clear the mind and mend broken hearts. But for every pose you love to hear an instructor call mid-vinyasa, there's at least one you'd rather nama-stay the hell away from.

I asked the staff at Well+Good which poses should be banished for eternity, and people weren't shy about sharing their strong opinions. "Child's pose because I hate getting my face that close to the mat #germaphobe," one exclaimed (while two others signaled agreement with the "face with tears of joy" emoji). "You will never catch me in crow pose. My triceps aren't shelves and I'm fine with that," another declared. And of happy baby, one staffer said: "I'm a grown woman, damn it. I don't want to roll around on my back with my legs in the air," to which another staffer replied, "This is also where everyone farts."

While each pose has a purpose, we asked a yoga teacher how to modify some we'd rather skip altogether, making them feel more like savasana and less like, well, themselves.

Try these alternatives to your least favorite yoga poses

1. If you hate child's pose (Balasana), try Apasana

Lie down on your back and pull your knees into your chest. Wrap your arms around your shins and give yourself a hug. "You still get the rest, are able to connect with your breath, and experience a gentle hip opening," says Jess Farley, a yoga teacher at New York's Y7 studio.

2. If you hate flip dog (Camatkarasana), try upward-facing dog

"From Chatarunga, as you inhale straighten your arms while flipping or rolling to the tops of your feet. Keep the shoulders down away from your ears. Legs stay lifted away from the ground, firm and strong," says Farley. Just like flipping yourself upside down, this pose strengthens the spine, arms, and the entire front of the body.

3. If you hate bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), try cobra

In a bridge pose, you're targeting the entire front chain of the body (abs to chest), and guess what? Cobra does the same thing. To practice this alternative to the back bend, lie on your belly and place your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders. Press the tops of the feet, thighs, and pubic bone into the ground. "On the inhale, lift your chest away from the ground pressing your hands into the floor," Farley says.

4. If you hate eagle pose (Garuda), try Gomukhasana

To pop into this pose, sit upright with your legs stretched out in front of you, bend your knees, and put your feet on the floor. Then, "Slide your left foot under the right knee to outside of the right hip. Then cross your right leg over the left, stacking the right knee on top of the left, and bring the right foot to the outside of the left hip. With the right leg on top you'll have to pull the right heel in closer to the left hip," instruct the yoga teacher. "Sit evenly on the sits bones. Then wrap your right arm once or twice under the left for an eagle wrap. Pull your thumb away from your forehead and lift your elbows in line with your shoulders."

(I hear you. This one is complicated, so here's a visual.)

5. If you hate crow (Bakasana) pose, try plank

It's true, plank-asana works the same muscle groups as crow pose. "From downward facing dog, inhale and shift your shoulders forward over your wrists until arms are perpendicular to the floor. Keep the navel drawing in and up. Look straight without dropping your head. Press your fingertips into the floor and back through your heels," Farley says.

6. If you hate happy baby pose (Ananda Balasana), try bound angle pose 

"Badha Konasana or bound angle pose is a great alternative to happy baby as it also open hips, stimulates the heart improving circulation, and stretches the inner thighs, groin, and knees," says the instructor. Sit and bend your knees, bringing the soles of your feet together in butterfly. Clasp your hands around your feet and round the spine drawing the chin in towards the chest as you exhale and fold forward.

7. If you hate Warrior I (Virabhadrasana), try high lunge

To move into this one, start in downward dog and step your foot forward between your hands. Lift your arms up over your head. Keep the front foot grounded, while coming onto the ball of the left foot. "High lunge is a bit more accessible than Warrior I as the heel stays lifted and there is less of a pull on your hamstring and calf while being easier to square your hips to the front of the room. High lunge also stretches the hip flexors, shoulders, and chest."

8. If you hate half moon pose (Ardha Chandrasana), try extended angle pose

"Extended side angle pose similar to half moon pose in that it stretches and strengthens the legs, knees, and ankles and increases stamina without being a balance posture," says the instructor. To get into it, start in Warrior II and prop your forearm on your thigh, reaching the opposite hand straight up overhead.

9. If you hate chair pose (Utkatasana), try downward dog

"Downward facing dog also strengthens arms and legs while stretching shoulders and chest similar to chair pose," says Farley. From plank pose, exhale and lift your hips so that your body is in a V-shape. Press your heels into the ground.

10. If you hate all inversions (Headstand! Handstand! Forearm stand!), try legs up the wall

Arguably one of the most restorative poses in the yoga playbook, legs up the wall says it all right there in the name. Simply lie down and shimmy your hips so your sits bones are up against the wall and your whole body is in the shape of an L. "By lifting your legs over your head, this pose relieves tired or cramped legs and feet. It also gently stretches the back legs, front torso, and back of the neck while calming the mind," says Farley.

Now, if you want to work those newfound variations into a sequence, try this one (perfect for mornings!) or this one (that targets your arms). 

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