The 5 Most Difficult Yoga Poses

You've mastered the art of balancing, and you're ready to take your yoga practice to the next level. Then you may be ready for these difficult yoga poses.

So, you’ve mastered the art of balancing and you can twist your legs in all sorts of ways in your yoga practice. You know your pigeon from your cobra, your happy baby from your downward dog. After practicing for months, maybe even years, maybe you’d like to put your talents to the test with some of the most difficult yoga poses yogis dare to try.

But if you’re new to handstands, headstands and Gumby-like backbends, don’t pretend that you’re in Cirque du Soleil® and attempt these poses on your own. Instead, find an experienced yoga instructor who can guide you through the motions safely first. Like any new fitness move, ease into these poses and build up to them to ensure you don’t injure yourself. As with any yoga practice, it’s important to find calmness in the mind and the poses will develop over time and practice.

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If you’re ready, here are the top five most difficult yoga poses:

5.) Crane Pose

Difficult Yoga Poses - crane pose

Channel a graceful wetland bird with one of the most difficult yoga poses: the crane. Considered to be one of the basic advanced yoga poses, it’s useful if you’re practicing arm-balance exercises. It is one of the most difficult yoga poses because it requires you to distribute your weight as evenly as possible.

Instead of bringing your legs in front of you, like in the firefly pose, you tuck your knees into the back of your armpits. To get into this position, tuck yourself into a ball-like position as if you were going to do a somersault. Put your hands on the ground, bend your elbows and rest the back of your upper arms on your shins. Shift your weight onto the balls of your feet and lean forward to transfer the weight to your hands. As you do this move, tuck your knees into the back of your arms. After finding your balance, straighten your arms and look forward with your head.

4.) Firefly Pose

Difficult Yoga Poses - firefly pose

Despite its name, you don’t really look like a firefly when you do this pose. You look like a ninja. Get into a warrior mindset before attempting this pose. To begin, start in a squatting position and place your feet on the floor so they’re less than hip-width apart. Tilt your body forward a bit so your weight is on your hands, like you’re going to play leapfrog. While in this frog-like position, shift your center of gravity and weight more on to your hands while keeping your knees as close to your shoulders as possible. Stretch out your legs in front of your body so they’re parallel to the ground, and then straighten your arms.

In addition to looking cool, this pose has a plethora of health benefits. The firefly yoga pose is beneficial to cyclists, helping them to deepen their hamstring and hip flexibility and opens the chest. Conquer this challenging pose and you’ll likely find increased strength and a fresh perspective on what your body is capable of achieving.

3.) Lotus Headstand Variation with Bound Legs

Difficult Yoga Poses - lotus headstand

This is one of the common difficult yoga poses, but it’s easily one of the most Instagram-able. You’ll turn heads and gain followers with this eye-catching pose. Headstands are like handstands, but you balance yourself on your forearms and head instead of just your hands. As you get into a headstand position, keep your elbows firmly in place so you don’t end up doing a scorpion face plant. To do the bound-leg variation, touch the soles of your feet together while in the headstand. Then bend at the knees so your legs for a diamond shape. When you get really good at this inversion, put your hands together as if you’re praying. Not only will this addition help keep your mind calm, but you’ll also increase the difficulty of the pose. If you are scared that your pants will not stay up when you are doing a difficult pose, check out these top yoga pants. They will make you feel comfortable and confident when you are doing this pose!

2.) Eight-Angle Pose

Difficult Yoga Poses - eight angle pose

When you do this move, you kind of look like you’re doing a pushup. Instead of having your legs and feet behind you, they’re off to your side and in the air. At the same time, one arm is between your legs, so you end up looking like a human knot. To do this pose, do a forward bend resting your hands are on either side of your feet; keep your knees slightly bent. Move your right arm between your legs. As you do this, bend your knees and elbows, and slowly move your right leg so it’s over the back of your upper right arm. At this point, your right toes still touch the ground. Slowly move your left leg to the right side of your body, cross your ankles and lift yourself off the floor.

Don’t underestimate this difficult yoga pose: it’s a serious workout. You’ll feel unstoppable after you wind your way into the eight-angle pose. In addition to the pride you’ll feel after achieving this pose, you’ll also build strength in your arms and upper back. You can probably skip the squats after this one, too – eight-angle pose is a fantastic inner thigh exercise.

1.) Forearm-Stand Scorpion Pose

Difficult Yoga Poses -scorpio pose

This may just be the hardest of the difficult yoga poses. Talk about an extreme back bend: To get into a forearm-stand scorpion pose, get into a simple headstand. To do a headstand, place your forearms into a triangle shape on the floor, with your hands clasped. Place the crown of your head between your arms so your clasped hands touch the back of your head. Lift your knees off the floor and slowly raise them so your body is parallel to the wall. Unclasp your hands, look up with your head and spread your fingers out on your yoga mat to help you keep your balance. Now you’re doing a forearm-stand. After finding your balance, bring your legs together and slowly bend your knees. If your back is flexible, your feet will be near your head.

Though this yoga pose looks intense, don’t be intimidated. You can practice forearm-stand scorpion with an exercise ball and your couch. Once you’ve mastered the form, you can try it on your own. The forearm-stand scorpion pose strengthens your back muscles, your abs, and shoulders while also increasing your balance.

Even if you are just starting out with your yoga practice, it is possible to work up to these difficult yoga poses. Take it day by day, know your body and don’t give up. Remember, yoga is one of the few forms of exercise that isn’t competitive. With only your own personal goals to strive towards, you can set your own pace towards the most challenging of yoga poses. Other articles you might enjoy during your yoga journey are unexpected health benefits of yoga and most amazing locations for yoga. Namaste!

The 5 Most Difficult Yoga Poses