There’s no shortage of hard yoga pose #inspo on Instagram these days. But what if you’re actually inspired to try one yourself? Where would you even start? We chatted with Megan Hochheimer, founder of Karma Yoga Fitness in Valrico, Florida, who frequently posts her own impressive “physics experiments” (her words) to find out the benefits of pushing the boundaries of your practice, the prerequisites for actually nailing next-level poses, and of course, 20 hard yoga poses to set your sights on along with pro tips, courtesy of Hochheimer. (Note that many of these tricky poses have a variety of names; the ones included here are what Hochheimer calls them.)
First and foremost, have fun with it: “Where else can you be a grownup and get to be barefoot and roll around on the floor and breathe as loud as you want? In your yoga practice, all those things are welcomed, so there’s no reason why some of these tricky poses can’t be a fun adventure.”
The Benefits of Hard Yoga Poses
You’ll learn more about your practice.
“Sometimes I’ll see something in a picture and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, definitely I could do that.’ But then I end up laughing at myself because there’s no way,” Hochheimer says. On the flip side, with good prep work and practice, she’s nailed poses she never thought she’d be capable of. “It’s cool to find where those nuances are in your own body. That self-study is something that is so encouraged in yoga.”
You’ll hone functional strength.
“When you build that strength to get up and down off the ground, balance on one foot or balance on your hands, you’re honing those parts of your physicality that are going to help make all the rest of your activities of daily living so much more enjoyable,” Hochheimer says.
You’ll finesse your proprioception.
Other perks include working on your proprioception which, when dull, can lead to balance issues. “In most of these tricky poses there is this element of balance, whether one knee is on the ground, one foot is on the ground, you’re arm balancing, or you’re in an inversion,” Hochheimer explains. “When you start to build that, you’re building concentration and proprioception.”
The Hard Yoga Pose Prerequisites
Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously.
Some poses could take years to master while you may be able to do others right away. “What’s really important is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously about any of it,” Hochheimer says. “If you’re going to approach this in a really competitive way, sometimes that invites injury. Whereas if you approach it in a playful way, and just stay with yourself through the process, I think that it’s a very healthy exploration.”
Bail Like A Kid.
Know this: You’re going to fall out of arm balances and inversions. “All of us who have learned how to do them fall in one way or another, so the more you can understand your body mechanics and how you do that, the safer you can be …….