Think you know how to strike a perfect Warrior III pose? What about something as simple as transitioning from Tadasana (standing upright) to a forward fold? These moves may seem simple, but it’s actually easier than you think to flub classic yoga poses, all of which require proper alignment, focus, and total-body strength.
That’s why yoga teachers correct your form in class; proper alignment is important not only for your practice but to prevent injuries. What’s more, doing a pose the wrong way can compromise the strength you build in your core, and potentially mess with your posture too.
In this video, we’re using a 360-degree camera to show you the right and wrong way to do four basic yoga poses. Yoga Medicine founder Tiffany Cruikshank does the postures correctly, while Health staffer Janet makes common mistakes while she does the same moves. The side-by-side view allows you to see exactly what you need to keep in mind when doing the below exercises.
Ready to be the star of your yoga class? Watch the video for a tutorial on the best and worst ways to do five standard poses. If you don’t have time to watch, we’ve also listed the moves below, along with key tips for how to properly do each one.
Tadasana to forward fold:
If you have tight hamstrings, be sure not to hunch your back as you stand upright. If you have flexible hamstrings, try not to over-arch your lower back. Remember to engage your core as you roll down, lengthening your spine and stopping folding before you lose the correct alignment.
Don’t allow your hip to turn outward in this powerful stance. Instead, square your hips so both point down toward the floor.
Remember to lift out of your torso so it doesn’t collapse toward the floor in triangle pose. Make sure you don’t over-arch your back and keep your shoulders stacked on top of one another. Finally, keep your torso on the same plane as your hips and legs, as if placed between two panes of glass.
Make sure to keep your shoulders lifted so they remain above elbow height and don’t round toward the floor. Instead, broaden your collarbones and feel your upper shoulder muscles supporting you as you slowly lower the upper body toward the mat.