8 Standing Yoga Poses to Build Balance and Strength

If you want to build better balance, yoga is one exercise modality that can help big time. Standing yoga poses in particular are a great way to help improve that skill—while bringing a whole host of other benefits as well.
“Standing yoga poses are great for building strength and stability, especially the balancing poses,” Nancy Chen, a trainer at Rumble Boxing and registered yoga teacher at Heatwise Yoga in Brooklyn, tells SELF. Plus she says they also tend to be more accessible since you technically don’t need a yoga mat for them, so you can do them pretty much anywhere.
Standing yoga poses—such as mountain, chair, and tree—all involve anchoring one or both feet into the ground. Because yoga is an ancient practice rooted in syncing your breath with your body and mind, standing yoga poses are seen as a way to align all three through your connection to the ground.
“There is a grounding and centered feeling that is able to occur when the breath, body, and mind are all aligned in these standing positions,” Eric Mosley, a registered yoga teacher based in New York City, founder of Black Mat Yoga, and Lululemon ambassador, tells SELF.
Whether you’re new to tree pose or have been taking power yoga classes for years, standing poses are an essential part of the entire practice. Yoga flow sequences​​ are structured to have a variety of yoga asanas or poses that take you from standing to sitting and lying down on the floor, or the other way around. For example, standing poses make up the majority of sun salutations in Vinyasa yoga, Chen says. You begin a sun salutation in mountain pose and then move into a forward fold to a half standing forward fold with a flat back before stepping back into a high plank.
In fact, Chen says, she slots these standing yoga poses—especially foundational ones, like the ones we discuss below—into both her personal yoga flows and those she creates for her class. As someone who struggles with weak ankles, Chen relies on standing yoga postures to help build ankle strength and stability and decrease injury risk, especially when she runs.
Wondering how to incorporate standing yoga poses into your own yoga practice? Here’s everything you need to know about these balance poses, including their benefits and how they help you work toward specific goals—plus eight standing yoga poses for beginners to try.
8 Standing Yoga Poses to Try
Now that you’re more familiar with some of the benefits of incorporating standing yoga poses into your practice, here are some of the foundational postures or yoga beginner stretches you may want to try.

1.Mountain Pose

This grounding pose helps strengthen your entire body and brings awareness to it, Chen says.

“It’s not just standing; it’s actually quite engaging on your body,” she says. “It can help improve posture, as well as strengthen your core, glutes, knees, and ankles.”

  • Stand with your toes together and heels slightly apart.
  • Spread your toes and place your weight evenly through both feet. Engage your core and tuck your hips under a bit so your tailbone is pointing down toward the floor. Relax your shoulders and roll them back and down.
  • Inhale and reach your arms overhead, while pressing down into your feet. You may also put your hands in prayer position in front of your chest, or rest them by your sides—all are commonly used variations, and your instructor may cue one specifically or give you the choice.
  • Take long, slow, deep breaths in and out of your nose.
  • Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.

2.Crescent Lunge

Great for opening tight hips, this strengthening standing yoga pose targets your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core, Chen says.

  • Take a big step forward with your left foot to start in a staggered stance, with your feet almost mat-length apart.
  • Bend your front knee and keep your back leg straight and heel lifted off the floor. Try to bend your front leg so that your thigh is parallel to the floor. Square your hips toward the front.
  • Extend your arms toward the ceiling on either side of your head and stretch up as you also press into the mat and feel the stretch in your hips.
  • Hold for 5 to 10 breaths and repeat on the other side.

3.Lunge With Spinal Twist

Adding a twist to your lunge is beneficial for your spine because it helps shift the pressure in your discs, which is important for a healthy spine, Chen says. Twists can also aid with digestion and movement in your G.I. tract.

  • Start standing with your feet together.
  • Take a big step forward with your left foot so that you are in a staggered stance.
  • Bend your left knee and drop into a lunge, keeping your right leg straight behind you with your toes on the ground so that you feel a stretch at the front of your right thigh.
  • Place your right hand on the floor and twist your upper body to the left as you extend your left arm toward the ceiling.
  • Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Repeat on the other side.

4.Warrior II

This beginner yoga pose strengthens your lower body and opens and lengthens through your hips, Chen says. “I like to think of the energy flowing from fingertip to fingertip.”

  • Take a big step forward with your left foot to start in a staggered stance, with your feet almost mat-length apart.
  • Extend your arms so that they are parallel to the floor.
  • Bend your left knee so that it’s at or near a 90-degree angle, your thigh parallel to the floor, while keeping the right leg straight.
  • Point your left toes forward and turn your right foot out to the right so that it’s perpendicular to your left foot. Your left heel should be in line with the arch of your right foot.
  • At the same time, twist your torso to the right so that your left hip is facing toward the front of the room and your right hip is facing toward the back. Your left arm and your head should both be pointing forward and your right arm should be pointing back.
  • Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch sides.

5.Triangle Pose

This standing yoga pose focuses on lengthening your spine and opens up your shoulders and chest, Chen says. It also works your core—if you keep your arms outstretched and parallel to the ground—and strengthens your quads.

  • Start in warrior II.
  • Straighten your front leg. Then, reach forward with your left hand toward the ground. Tilt your torso forward and rotate it open to the right side.
  • Rotate your arms to 6 and 12 o’clock. Rest your left hand on your shin, or the floor if you can, and extend your top arm fingers toward the ceiling.
  • Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch sides.

6.Tree Pose

This balancing yoga pose strengthens your ankles, opens up your hips, and helps you tune into your own body awareness, Chen says.

  • Start in mountain pose with your toes together and heels slightly apart.
  • Bring your right foot to the inner thigh of your left leg. Squeeze your foot and inner thigh together. The knee of your right leg should be turned out and your right thigh facing down toward the ground at a 45-degree angle.
  • Once you’ve found your balance, lift your hands to prayer position in front of your chest (as shown), or up overhead if that feels better for you.
  • Keep your gaze focused on a fixed point in front of you to help stay balanced.
  • Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, then switch sides.

7.Dancer’s Pose

This standing pose is a combination of a backbend (which increases spinal flexibility) and a heart opener (which stretches tight chest muscles and improves posture), in addition it works ankle stability and balance, Chen says.

  • Stand tall with your feet together.
  • Bend your left knee and bring your left foot toward your glutes. Grab onto the inner arch of your left foot with your left hand and slowly lift your foot toward the ceiling. At the same time, reach your right arm forward and up toward the ceiling.
  • Actively press down into the floor with your entire right foot as you start to open your chest and pull your lifted leg up. Keep your chest lifted.
  • Hold on one side for 5 to 10 breaths and then switch sides.
8.Warrior III Balance

As one of the best balancing yoga poses, warrior III activates your core, opens your hamstring, and improves ankle stability.

  • Stand with your right foot on the ground and lift your left knee toward your chest, shifting your weight to your right leg.
  • Keeping your left knee bent, hinge forward from your hips as you slowly lift your left leg behind you.
  • Straighten your left leg, flexing your foot, and continue to hinge forward until your torso is parallel to the ground. Keep your gaze down on the ground and lift your arms by your sides at ear height. Reverse the move, as pictured here, and continue.
  • To make the pose more static and less dynamic, pause for 5 to 10 breaths when your torso is parallel to ground and leg raised.
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