When I first started going to yoga class, I giggled quite a bit. Let’s face it, some of the poses look a little silly. It’s easy to forget this after you’ve been practicing for a while but as a teacher, when I see a yoga newbie chuckle in Happy Baby, I’ve got nothing but sympathy.
Obviously, the more advanced the class is the crazier the poses look. But you don’t have to be in an advanced class to see some funny-looking stuff. Some of the most common poses look pretty strange.
Even though it might not feel like it when you’re starting out, yoga poses weren’t actually designed to embarrass you or make you laugh. Need more evidence of that? Well, aside from looking silly, some poses look an awful lot like things we used to do as little kids … you know, way back when our bodies were more limber and before all the sitting caused our joints to start losing their full range of motion and stuff.
And that’s the point. The poses are designed to get our bodies back into proper alignment so they can operate in the most efficient way possible. We move in and out of these positions to release tight, overused muscles and to strengthen all the muscles that have been otherwise lulled to sleep by our repetitive life patterns of sitting, texting, slouching, etc. Think of it as damage control.
So if it feels odd to do a particular pose, then you’re probably on the right track toward getting your body back to functioning and moving the way it was originally designed to do.
Here are four poses you’re likely to see in yoga class and the reason you’re doing them … you know, other than to exercise your giggle muscles.
4 Common Funny-Looking Yoga Poses
1. Garland Pose (Malasana). Also called the Yogi Squat, this is a very grounding pose so it’s great to do when you’re feeling anxious or you need to calm down. Of course, you’re getting a ginormous stretch in your hips and groin, but you’re also going to release your low back from the pain of sitting and give some much needed TLC to those forgotten muscles around your ankles. Added bonuses: just by hanging out in this pose for a few minutes, you’ll strengthen your lower body and core while getting your internal organs aligned for efficient digestion.
2. Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana). Presumably named for exactly how it looks — like a happy baby playing on her back, this is another super grounding pose that helps you chill out. This pose gently opens and stretches your hips, inner groin and back, and puts your spine back into a delightfully lengthened position. Try it and you’ll see how awesome this pose is for relieving fatigue and stress.
3. Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana). This one looks kinda uncomfortable and like you’re trying to hide from the world between your knees. But, quite frankly, Rabbit feels amazeballs if you’ve got tension in your neck, shoulders and upper back … that’s like all of us, right? This gentle inversion also helps stretch the spine and keep the discs between your vertebrae healthy and feeling spacious rather than all compressed into each other.
4. Fish Pose (Matsyasana). At first, you might question whether your body is actually even supposed to do this pose. But this delightful position will do wonders for your posture since it’s pretty much the opposite of how our upper bodies spend most of the day. Consider this guy the golden remedy to sitting hunched over a computer or the steering wheel all day. Fish Pose stretches the entire front of your torso — belly, chest, neck — while strengthening the muscles on the back of your body and releasing tightness in your deep hip flexors (psoas). It’ll also improve the quality of your breath by opening your breathing muscles and stretching the intercostal muscles in the tiny spaces between your ribs.
What are some of your favorite funny poses? —Alison