We all know that yoga helps us to recharge while connecting us to our bodies and breath. For the most part, one might say it’s a flow-y, easy form of self-care that proves restorative and calming. But there is another type of yoga: the type where advanced yoga practitioners wow us with some super-duper hard yoga poses. That’s when yoga becomes less restful and more freaking badass. While twisting your body into a bendy pretzel isn’t for everyone, practicing advanced yoga poses could be perfect when you want to up your yoga game and stretch yourself (no pun intended) right out of a slump. And, if you love a challenge, you might find it downright fun.
While any yoga pose can be tough — depending on your level of practice — certain advanced yoga poses are not for the faint of heart. So, if you’re someone who prefers Shavasana, then maybe skip these hard yoga poses. But if you’re ready to do some yoga that’s Instagram-worthy, keep reading and get ready to get real bendy.
Hard Yoga Poses for 1
Eka Hasta Vrksasana — One-Handed Tree Pose
This is essentially a one-handed handstand and is perfect for someone looking to improve their core strength and mental focus. Strong wrists are definitely required. It’s practiced with the non-balancing arm extended and the legs either extended to the sky or spread apart. Since it’s an inversion pose, it’s said to help increase energy, calm your nervous system, and boost confidence and self-esteem — which, duh, since who can casually do a one-handed headstand?
Hanumanasana — Monkey Pose
Hanumanasana, or monkey pose, is the yoga version of a full front split. It stretches the thigh, groin, and hamstrings. As you might imagine, it requires tons of flexibility and practice, including using some support like yoga blocks. The legs in this pose are in a split position, with one leg extended in front of the torso and the other behind the torso. Hands are either lifted to the sky in prayer position or placed on the floor. If you need a good pose to meditate on challenges and build patience, try this.
Sirsa Padasana — Head-to-Foot Pose
We call this an extreme backbend to outdo all backbends. It requires a lot of strength, flexibility, and mental focus. No wonder it’s known as a feet-to-head pose or headstand with scorpion legs. It benefits the biceps and triceps, core, and psoas muscles. It’s a fantastic pose for stretching out the spine and increasing blood flow to the brain. Bonus? It also develops concentration and focus.
Tittibhasana — Firefly Pose
Fire up your core with this challenging asana. Start by squatting with your feet slightly narrower than should-width apart. While tilting your pelvis forward, bring your trunk between your legs. Then, with your trunk low, straighten those legs enough to lift your pelvis knee-height. Here’s where it gets even more challenging. Next, you’ll need to bring your left upper arm and shoulder as far underneath the back of your left thigh (just above the knee) as possible, placing your left hand on the floor at the outer edge of your foot. Follow the same steps for your right arm. Finally, carefully lift yourself off the floor, stretching your legs out to the sides as straight as you can.
The wounded peacock looks a lot like its namesake describes: Your legs are like the feathers, but you’re still not entirely erect. Try your best to do it with one arm but using both is OK too. This is a great way to strengthen your wrists, shoulders, and arm muscles. But if you want to challenge yourself further and boost your mental focus, try doing it with one hand!
Hard Yoga Poses for 2
Vimana Dviguna Phalakasana — Double Plank
This pose looks easier than it is. Basically, person one holds a plank on the ground while person two holds a plank on top in the opposite direction. It definitely tests your strength and balance while working your triceps and biceps, shoulders, and core.
This fun-sounding yoga pose is for those who have a strong core. Both people are doing boat pose (Navasana), where your legs are outstretched while you balance on your sit bones. The twist is, you’re facing one another — holding hands and placing the soles of your feet together. It’s a brilliant pose for improving your core strength while stretching out your hamstrings and lower back.
Wheel for Partners
Wheel is a great spine stretching and strengthening pose. This one is a bit different than the typical wheel pose, or Urdhva Dhanurasana. It requires person one, as the base, to start in cobra position. Person two enters the pose by laying on their back so person one can take hold of their ankles. The second partner then bends their arms behind them, taking hold of their partner’s ankles and pushing up through their arms. Or the second person can start in a headstand while gripping person one’s ankles and bending their body over towards person one’s head so they can grip person two’s ankles. Phew! Lots of flexibility in hips and shoulders needed for this one.
Killer Praying Mantis
This might be the wildest pose on the list, but it’s worth the stretch. Flexibility is necessary to make this pose work. It opens the ligaments in your inner thighs, hips, and stretches out your back. You will need to take a lot of breaths to make it through this one, but if you remember to do it, it will make this pose a little less intense.