If you’re looking to increase strength, balance, and flexibility (while also flexing your skills), here are some of the most advanced yoga poses to try.
Are you a seasoned yogi with an impressive repertoire of poses? Or are you still working on mastering Corpse Pose or Mountain Pose?
Regardless of your experience level, there’s no doubt that some yoga poses are harder than others, but they’re all great for your health.
So, which poses are the most challenging? Here’s a look at some of the hardest yoga poses and why they’re so tough to master.
Note: If you’re still improving your yoga practice or totally new to these poses, working with a seasoned yoga instructor is the best way to learn these poses correctly (and to make sure you do them safely!).
Chin Stand is an advanced inversion pose that combines a strong arm balance and a backbend. You’ll need strong arms and shoulders to lift your bod off the floor, as well as epic levels of concentration and coordination.
You’ll be rewarded with increased upper body strength, a solid core, improved focus and concentration, and less stress.
How it’s done: Start in Plank Pose. Lower your chest and chin to the mat, keeping hips raised. Next, engage your core and lift one leg to the sky, then the other, while resting your body on your hands and chin.
Be careful to maintain balance and alignment in your body so you don’t fall.
Crow Pose means you’ll be balancing on your arms. You’ll need a great deal of upper body strength and coordination to lift your hips and legs off the floor and into the air. That’s why it’s one of the hard yoga poses.
The benefits of Crow Pose include strengthening your arms and core and opening your hips.
How it’s done: Start in a low squat with feet hip-width apart and hands on the mat in front of you. Place your knees on the backs of your arms and lean forward, lifting your feet off the floor and pressing your palms firmly into the mat.
One-Legged Crow Pose is an advanced variation of Crow Pose.
This full-body pose is a tricky variation that will energize your whole body and help improve your balance. Research suggests that yoga may even improve your thinking ability and brain health.
How it’s done: Begin in Crow. Then, pull one knee toward your chest, shift your weight forward, and extend the opposite leg toward the sky.
Handstand is an advanced inversion pose that takes considerable strength and balance to execute. You’ll improve your coordination and core strength as you lift your legs.
How it’s done: Start in Downward-Facing Dog with your feet hip-width apart. Then, slowly walk your hands forward until they’re directly below your shoulders. Lift one leg at a time into the air and press your palms firmly into the mat as you balance.
Be careful not to arch your back or let your hips sag. You may want to practice with cushions and a soft surface in case you fall.
Scorpion Handstand is a handstand variation, and it’s a toughie that requires supreme balance, strength, and flexibility.
How it’s done: Start in a handstand position with your butt facing a wall. Touch the wall with your toes, and then gradually move them toward your head until your knees are bent.
The Headstand is an advanced inversion pose where you literally stand on your head. The pose takes a lot of core strength and balance.
How it’s done: Start in a tabletop position with your hands and knees on the mat. Dip down until the top of your head is resting between your hands. Push your butt up, straighten your legs, slowly walk your feet closer to your head, and then lift your hips into the air and extend your legs straight. (Easy, right ? 😅)
Take your time to balance and ask someone to spot you if you think you might take a tumble.
Like other inversion poses, Forearm Stand helps improve circulation and encourages blood to travel from the extremities back to the heart. And, of course, it requires solid balance, a strong upper body, and stellar core strength.
How it’s done: Begin in Dolphin Pose and walk your feet toward your hands. Lift one leg to the sky, then the other. Don’t forget to engage your core and press your forearms into the mat.
Standing Hand to Big Toe Pose is a stretching, bending, and balancing move that helps stabilize your core and open your hips. In addition, research suggests that performing standing yoga moves can increase self-esteem and have an energizing effect.
How it’s done: Start in a standing position. Transfer your weight to your left foot. Lift your right foot off the floor and squeeze the knee to your body with both hands.
When balanced, wrap two fingers of your right hand around your right big toe, extend your leg forward, and swing it around to the side. Lift your left arm for balance. Repeat on the opposite leg.
Compass Pose is a seated twisting move that stretches and opens up your hamstrings, chest, and glutes. You need to be very flexible for this pose (like, “put your feet behind your head” flexible).
How it’s done: Begin in a seated position. Try to position your right leg back and over your right shoulder. Place right hand on the floor to balance you, and grasp right foot with left hand. Open your chest and feel the energy flow through your body. Repeat on the other side.
Split Pose helps with strength and balance while stretching your hamstrings and opening your hips. If you haven’t already guessed by the name, it’s essentially a classic split.
How it’s done: Start in a low lunge with your back knee down and hands on either side of your hips. Move your back foot so the top rests on the mat and your toes are pointed. Slowly slide front foot out while pointing toes. Feel the deep stretch in your hamstrings and hip flexors.
Remember not to push the movement, as you risk injury to your lower back and leg tendons.
Eight-Angle Pose is one of those yoga pretzel poses that also requires a ton of balance. It’s hands-down (literally) one of the hardest yoga poses and brings engagement from head to toe, particularly in your arms and inner thighs.
How it’s done: Sit with your legs in front of you. Wrap your right leg over your right shoulder, then place left leg in front of right hand.
Hook your ankles together, lean forward, and lift your hips while squeezing inner thighs toward one another and stretching legs away from your body. Repeat on the other side.
Mermaid Pose sounds cute, and you’ll look like Ariel posing on a rock, but it’s no day at the beach. This pose requires a lot of coordination and flexibility that you will feel as it opens your hips, chest, and shoulders.
How it’s done: Start in Downward Dog. Then, move your right knee behind your right wrist and right heel toward left hip. Walk your left foot behind you. You’ll now be in Pigeon Pose.
Twist your body to the left and try to grab the top of your left foot and move it down into the crook of your elbow. To complete the movement, lift right hand up and behind you and hold your left hand.
An especially challenging yoga pose for anyone with poor balance, Dancer Pose requires great balance skills and flexibility. It’ll open your chest, shoulders, and hips while strengthening your legs.
How it’s done: From a standing position, transfer your weight to your right foot, then raise left foot behind you and hold it with left hand. While holding the top of your left foot, lift it backward and toward the sky. Repeat on the other side.
Is this the most difficult yoga move? The jury’s out, but it’s one of the hardest yoga poses fo’ sho. You’re gonna need extreme flexibility in your hips, plus balance and strength. Also, because yoga moves like this one require strong mental focus and mindfulness, they may help diffuse anxiety and stress.
How it’s done: Start in a one-arm plank with both feet on the mat. Place the lower leg behind your head. Next, lift the free arm and your face toward the sky from this position.
Some folks also start by placing the leg behind their head first (sounds *way* easier 🤔) and rolling into a side plank.
Is it break dancing or is it yoga? One-Handed Tree Pose isn’t too sure. It’s one of the most difficult yoga poses and requires superhero-level balance and strength. Oh, and it’s inverted!
How it’s done: Start in a handstand (yes, you start in a hard pose). Then spread those legs and slowly lift one of your hands off the mat. You need to balance with your legs, and your wrists and elbows provide stability.
You can also start this pose leaning against a wall.
There you have it — 15 of the hardest yoga poses. But don’t be discouraged if they seem out of reach (literally)! With regular practice, you’ll slowly build up your strength and flexibility, and before long, you may be able to nail these like a pro.
Remember that yoga should be a challenging but enjoyable experience, not a competition. So always go at your own pace, focus on your breath, and listen to your body.
Don’t forget to warm up, and never try to force your way into a pose that doesn’t feel right. If you’re feeling any pain, back off and try something else. You don’t want to injure yourself.
Above all else, have fun and enjoy the journey!