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Asanas or poses is the third and the most important limb of the eight limbed yoga system know as Ashtanga Yoga. The practice of Ashtanga yoga poses relies on linking postures through various movements in between (Vinyasa), along with controlled breathing, and eye gazing (drishti) on prescribed focus points.

Vinyasa movements improves the blood flow and speeds up your metabolism.

Deep breathing supplies pure oxygen to your blood and removes unwanted toxins from your lungs. As a result, internal heat and sweat is produced which removes impurities and toxins through the skin.

Drishti or Gazing points are focus points which help you look both inwards and outwards. They help with dhyana or meditation so as to give you a steady mind.

Poses/ Asanas are practiced for right posture, firm balance, fit body, healthy system and a stable mind.

But remember, poses are not the ultimate goal of yoga. An asana as a whole is a state of enlightenment that you can only reach by proper training and regular practice.

So, don’t try to get too savvy too early. Be very observant of every move you make because control is what we’re looking for initially.

We’ll start with the primary series since that’s where you’ll be starting from. Remember, it’s a strict structure? Set series, set sequence? No clues? No issues. You can find out more about the famed fixed sequence of Ashtanga Yoga in this other post “Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series”.

Let’s get to it.

Poses or Asanas in Ashtanga Yoga 

Standing poses 

Standing Poses benefit your entire body starting with your arms, shoulders, lower back, middle back, upper back, feet, ankles, hamstrings, hips, neck, chest, psoas, quadriceps, knees, pelvic, spine, biceps, triceps and core.

1. Samasthiti or Tadasana

  • Standing still like a mountain with an even stance
  • Stretches your whole body and prepares you for impending pose
  • Most poses start with a Samasthiti

2. Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations A & B

 Greeting the sun is an ancient practice that can be seen in many cultures across the globe. By saluting the sun,

  • You’re welcoming a new day
  • Getting ready for the session
  • Heating up your body
  • Toning up your muscles
  • Boosting your respiration and cardiac rhythm
  • Realigning your movement with breath
  • Unifying your mind, body and soul

3. Padangusthasana- Big Toe pose (DrishtiNose) 

  • A forward-bend stretch
  • Stimulates the endocrine system and abdominal region, and improves the reproductive system
  • Can treat anxiety, stress and sleeplessness
  • Ideal for athletes and women suffering from PMS

4. Padahastasana- Hand to Feet pose (Drishti- Nose) 

  • Forward-bend stretch and inversion
  • Can treat Sciatica and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Good for muscles, spine and the nervous system
  • Reduces stress, insomnia, anxiety, depression, etc.

5. Utthita Trikonasana A & B- Extended Triangle pose (Drishti – Thumb of left hand) 

  • A side-bend stretch
  • Tones abdominal and pelvic organs, and improves digestion
  • Therapeutic for stress, anxiety, infertility, flat feet, neck pain, back-ache and sciatica
  • Good for women with menstrual disorders

6. Parivritta Trikonasana- Revolved Triangle pose (Drishti- Thumb of right hand) 

  • A side-bend stretch with a twist!
  • Massages internal organs, and improves digestive and reproductive system
  • Can treat Sciatica and improves balance
  • Reduces stress, anxiety and enhances your nervous system

7. Utthita Parsvakonasana A & B- Extended Side Angle pose (Drishti- Palm of left hand) 

  • A simple side-bend stretch with balance
  • Stimulates abdominal muscles and improves digestion
  • Good for joints, spine and over-all muscle strength
  • Remedial in backache, Sciatica and menstrual disorders

8. Parivritta Parsvakonasana- Revolved Side Angle pose (Drishti- Sky) 

  • Includes forward-bend, side-bend, twist and stretch to gain strength, balance and energy
  • Good for lungs, digestion, Sciatica and reproductive system

9. Prasarita Padottanasana A, B, C & D- Wide Leg Stretch pose (Drishti- Nose) 

  • Forward-bend, stretch, and inversion for flexibility and chakra balance
  • Helps with stress, fatigue and depression
  • Brings awareness and confidence

10. Parsvottanasana- Intense Side Stretch pose (Drishti- 2nd toe of extended foot) 

  • Forward-bend, inversion and stretches that expands your whole body, and corrects your posture
  • Massages internal organs and lower abdomen
  • Improves digestion and detoxifies lungs
  • Tones the liver, spleen, and strengthens the nervous system

11. Utthita Hasta Padangushtasana A, B, C & D- Intense Hand to Big Toe pose (Drishti- big toe, and far to the side) 

  • Simple side-bend stretch that contracts your muscles for strength and balance
  • Brings awareness, stability and concentration
  • Lengthens the spine and activates joints
  • Great for athletes and people suffering from rheumatic disorders

12. Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana- Half Bound Lotus Forward Bend pose (Dishti- Nose) 

  • Forward-bend stretch with inversion and balance
  • Improves your digestion, respiratory system and helps rid extra fat
  • Massages your abdominal organs like liver and spleen
  • Reduces stress, anxiety and helps you focus

13. Utkatasana- Chair pose/ Fierce pose (Drishti- thumbs) 

  • Forward-bend stretch with strength and balance
  • Builds stamina and focus
  • Improves your nervous system, immune system and respiration system
  • Activates abdominal muscles
  • Good for athletes

14. Virabhadrasana A & B- Warrior pose (Drishti- thumbs, tip of the middle finger) 

  • Stretch and twist for strength and flexibility
  • Works all the muscles in your body
  • Improves respiration and blood circulation
  • Therapeutic for Asthma, Sciatica and Insomnia

Seated Poses

Seated Poses work on your legs, lower back, upper back, core, hips, pelvic, spine, hamstrings, neck, arms, shoulders, psoas, quadriceps, feet, ankles, knees, belly, biceps, triceps, wrists, lower traps and chest

1. Dandasana- Staff pose (Drishti- Nose) 

  • A simple yet effective stretch to make your sitting posture right

2. Paschimottanasana A, B & C- Intense West Stretch or Sitting Forward Bend pose (Drishti- Nose) 

  • Easy forward-bend stretch for strength
  • Improves blood circulation, respiration and digestion
  • Good for people with diabetes, liver and kidney problems
  • Great for women with menstrual disorders

3. Purvatanasana- Intense East Stretch pose (Drishti-the 3rd eye, or inwards)

  • A back-bend with stretch and inversion that needs strength and balance
  • Improves the function of thyroid and adrenal gland
  • Strengthens the immune system.
  • Can be practiced during menstruation

4. Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana- Half Bound Lotus Forward Bend pose (Drishti- Nose) 

  • A forward-bend stretch with one arm behind and around your back
  • Tones your abdominal organs, improves blood circulation and digestion

5. Trianga Mukhaekapada Paschimottanasana- Reversed Leg Direction of One leg Intense East Stretch pose (Drishti- Big toe of extended foot)

  • Forward-bend stretch with one leg folded in reverse for balance and stability
  • Brings awareness, calmness, focus and relaxation
  • Deals with many issues related to legs such as Sciatica, Piriformis Syndrome, Cramps, and Plantar Fasciitis

6. Janu Sirsasana A, B & C- Head to Knee pose (Drishti- Toes, big toe of extended foot) 

  • Stretch with forward-bend, side-bend and twist
  • Stimulates the liver, pancreas, kidney, uterus, stomach and spleen
  • Improves blood flow and digestion
  • Effective during menstruation
  • Reduces anxiety, and brings balance and harmony in the body
  • Aids in Sciatica
  • Great asana for runners

7. Marichyasana A, B, C & D- Sage Marichi pose (Drishti- Toes, nose and far to the right) 

  • Forward-bend stretch with twist
  • Activates, adrenal glands, thyroid glands and pancreas
  • Helps your digestive, respiratory and nervous system function well
  • Brings focus and awareness

8. Navasana- Boat pose (Drishti- toes) 

  • Forward-bend that needs strength and balance
  • Tones abdominal muscles and improves digestion
  • Gives you balance and corrects your posture

9. Bhujapidasana– Shoulder Pressure pose (Drishti- Nose and feet) 

  • A pose that needs a lot of balance and strength
  • Tones the abdomen, thus improving digestion
  • Nourishes the thyroid gland, controls heart rate, balances nervous system and regulates the metabolism
  • Helps relieve stress, headaches and brings balance and concentration

10. Kurmasana- Tortoise pose (Drishti- 3rd eye) 

  • Forward-bend stretch
  • Elongates spine
  • Improves blood circulation, respiration and metabolism
  • Good for people with Sciatica, Insomnia and Asthma

11. Supta Kurmasana- Sleeping Tortoise pose (Drishti- Nose) 

  • Forward-bend stretch with inversion
  • Tones abdominal muscles
  • Makes you energetic, gives you relaxation and peace of mind
  • Improves blood circulation and respiration
  • Boosts metabolism

12. Garbha Pindasana- Embryo pose (Drishti- Straight ahead) 

  • Forward-bend stretch
  • Massages your spine and abdominal muscles
  • Cleans and strengthens your liver, spleen, uterus and rectum
  • Improves digestion
  • Unifies your mind and soul

13. Kukkutasana- Rooster pose or cock pose (Drishti- 3rd eye)

  • Forward-bend needs strength and balance
  • Massages abdominal muscles and internal organs, thus improving digestion
  • Gives you stability, balance, concentration, and self-confidence
  • Stimulates adrenal gland and strengthens nervous system
  • Reduces anxiety and stress

14. Baddha Konasana A & B- Bound Angle pose (Drishti- Nose)

  • Simple seated stretch
  • Improves blood flow and digestion
  • Helps with Sciatica, hernia and anal rectal diseases such as hemorrhoids
  • Good for women with menstrual disorders
  • Improves the function of kidney, prostate and urinary tract

15. Upavishta Konasana A & B- Seated Angle pose (Drishti- Nose or 3d eye) 

  • Forward-bend stretch
  • Brings awareness and calms your mind
  • Improves blood flow and rejuvenates your nervous system

16. Supta Konasana A & B- Reclining Angle pose (Drishti- Nose, or the 3rd eye) 

  • Includes inversion, stretch and balance
  • Stimulates abdominal organs like ovaries, prostate gland, bladder, and kidneys
  • Improves your heart rate and blood circulation
  • Relieves stress and depression
  • Good for women with menstruation and menopause

17. Supta Padangustasana- Reclining Big Toe pose (Drishti- toe and far to the left) 

  • Stretch while laying on your back
  • Strengthens the reproductive system and keeps the rectum and urinary bladder fit and clean
  • Helps in Sciatica, blood pressure, infertility and constipation
  • Great pose for athletes

18. Ubhaya Padangustasana- Both Big Toes pose (Drishti- 3rd eye) 

  • Forward-bend stretch with strength and balance
  • Stimulates your nervous system
  • Reduces stress

19. Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana- Upward Facing Full Forward Bend pose (Drishi- 3rd eye) 

  • Forward-bend stretch with balance
  • Stimulates abdominal organs, reproductive organs and the endocrine system
  • Improves digestion
  • Reduces stress and anxiety

20. Setu Bandhasana- Bridge pose (Drishti- 3rd eye) 

  • Back-bend stretch needs strength and balance
  • Massages lower abdomen, improves blood flow and digestion
  • Strengthens the nervous and reproductive system
  • Helps with blood pressure, hypertension, and depression.
  • Relieves thyroid problems, headaches, migraines, hearing issues and insomnia

21. Urdhva Dhanurasana- Upward Bow pose (Drishti- 3rd eye) 

  • Back-bend stretch with inversion, strength and balance
  • Improves the functioning of the glands
  • Improves digestion
  • Treats Menstrual cramps
  • Great help with asthma, back pain, migraine, stress, anxiety, Osteoporosis and fertility

22. Paschimottanasana- Full Forward Bend pose (Drishti- Nose)

  • A seated forward-bend stretch
  • Massages abdominal organs, improves digestion and respiration
  • Aligns your vertebral column
  • Therapeutic for patients with diabetes, weak liver and kidney
  • Benefits women with menstrual disorders

Finishing Poses

Finishing Poses target your arms, biceps, triceps, shoulders, spine, lower back, middle back, upper back, neck, core, hamstrings, hips, pelvic, trunk, chest, quadriceps, ankle, knees and thighs.

1. Salamba Sarvangasana– Shoulder-stand pose (Drishti- toes) 

  • Called as mother of all asanas, it’s a stretch with inversion that needs balance and strength
  • Improves blood flow, digestion and eyesight
  • Burns bad fat
  • Helps manage thyroid disorders, asthma, reproductive problems, headaches and migraines, diabetes, insomnia, and hypertension
  • Relieves varicose veins, haemorrhoids, headaches, constipation, hypertension, insomnia, bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, congestion, and depression

2. Halasana- Plough pose (Drishti- Nose) 

  • Stretch with inversion
  • Improves the function of the thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary glands, endocrine glands, abdominal organs such as spleen, pancreas, liver and kidneys, the reproductive organs, and the digestive system
  • Therapeutic in asthma, cough and cold, menopause, headaches, sinusitis, insomnia, diabetes and stress.

3. Karnapidasana- Ear Pressure pose (Drishti- Nose) 

  • Stretch with inversion
  • Effective against infertility, sinusitis, and menopause symptoms
  • Stimulates the thyroid gland and abdominal organs

4. Urdhva Padmasana- Upward Lotus pose (Drishti- Nose) 

  • Stretch with inversion and balance
  • Massages abdominal organs, improves digestion and metabolism
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Brings awareness, enlightenment and improves concentration and memory

5. Pindasana- Embryo pose (Drishti- Nose) 

  • Stretch with inversion and balance
  • Strengthens abdominal organs and improves digestion
  • Relaxes your mind and body

6. Matsyasana- Fish pose (Drishti- 3rd eye) 

  • Back-bend stretch with inversion needs strength
  • Improves blood circulation and functioning of lungs
  • Tones the parathyroid, pituitary and pineal glands
  • Reduces anxiety and stress

7. Uttana Padasana– Extended Leg pose (Drishti- 3rd eye) 

  • Back-bend stretch with inversion, strength and balance
  • Brings endurance and awareness
  • Relieves depression and insomnia
  • Boosts your energy levels
  • Activates the hormone-producing endocrine glands
  • Improves digestion and respiration

8. Shirshasana- Headstand pose (Drishti- Nose)

  • Inversion with strength and balance
  • Realigns the vertebral column and corrects posture
  • Good for patients of diabetes, asthma, migraine and headaches
  • Treats disorders related to the nervous system, reproductive system and glands
  • Helps manage anxiety, stress and anger
  • Good for women with menopause symptoms

9. Baddha Padmasana- Bound lotus pose (Drishti- tip of your nose) 

  • Seated stretch with twist
  • Stimulates the reproductive system
  • Improves digestion and cardiovascular health
  • Reduces back pain and lower body fat

10. Yoga Mudra– Yoga Seal pose (Drishti- 3rd eye) 

  • Forward-bend stretch with inversion
  • Works your back, shoulders and neck. Works on feet, ankles and hips. Benefits your arms and wrists
  • Opens your heart center and the rib cage.
  • Stimulates the brain and nervous system

11. Padmasana- Lotus pose (Drishti- Nose)

  • A simple cross-legged seated pranayama for restoration and meditation
  • Tones the spine and abdominal muscles
  • Brings steadiness to your body and mind
  • Improves blood circulation

12. Uttpluthi- Uprooted (Drishti- Nose) 

  • Seated stretch with strength and balance
  • Massages your abdomen

13. Shavasana- Corpse pose (Drishti- 3rd eye) 

  • A supine, restorative pose
  • Relaxes your entire body and brings breath under control
  • Calms your nervous system and improves the blood pressure
  • Therapeutic for anxiety and insomnia
  • Promotes respiratory and cardiovascular functions
  • Reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain
  • Improves sleep

Final Note

 The primary series of Ashtanga Yoga is called Yoga therapy for apparent reasons. This sequence has to be carried out in the prescribed order (as mentioned in this post) without toying around with it.

Once you’ve learned, practiced and mastered all these poses in the right sequence, you can move on to the intermediate series. Or you can keep up with the primary series and still experience something new every time you practice it.

To further understand Ashtanga Yoga, you can get yourself the best-selling book The Power of Ashtanga Yoga. This in-depth user guide will help you practice Ashtanga Yoga poses efficiently for strength, flexibility and inner peace.

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A freelance writer, a poet and an avid reader. He’s a passionate wordsmith who believes in writing content which is simple, beautiful and informative. He’s a practised communicator coached by British Academy.
Apart from being a playful scribbler, he’s a hardcore music fan and loves exploring space and science. He is also a spiritual soul and fitness enthusiast. Yoga, meditation and workout are some of his favourite health activities.