Tiger pose is a back bending and kneeling pose that’s found in yoga. It’s often seen near the beginning or at the end of a class. It’s a useful pose for transitioning between all fours and a yoga sequence. It’s also a good pose to use when trying to test or improve on balance.
It’s a gentle pose in nature but can also be fiery as it requires some core work and the glutes to be engaged. The shape of the pose looks like a tiger that has just woken up in the morning and is stretching. The raised leg in the pose is supposed to be the tail of the tiger.
The basics of tiger pose
Tiger pose is known as Vyaghrasana in Sanskrit, the Vyaghra in the name means tiger in English. The pose lives up to its name because it does require some strength to hold. It targets the glutes, core, wrists, and hips. It mainly targets the area of the spine as it is a subtle backbend.
Even though the pose requires some strength from the arms and the core, it is still a fairly easy pose to hold and get into. This makes it a beginner-friendly pose. Some people struggle to hold the pose when they first try it, but once they understand the elements that make the pose, it gets easier to hold.
The benefits of practicing tiger pose
Tiger pose has many benefits such as strengthening the area of the arms and the thighs. The arms and the thighs need to be engaged in tiger pose to hold the body up. The hips are being opened in tiger pose to keep the one leg up. This increases flexibility in the hips.
Tiger pose requires an arch in the back, which stretches the spine and opens the shoulders. This can also help relieve stress and calm the nerves of anyone who is practicing the pose. To hold the pose, a person has to engage areas like the glutes and core, which improves overall balance. It also teaches a person what to do for more difficult balancing poses.
How to do tiger pose
Step by step instructions for getting into the pose
- Begin in an all-fours/ tabletop position. Have your hands shoulder-width distance apart and knees hip-width distance apart. Spread your fingers wide and have the index finger pointing forward. Push out of your shoulders and be careful not to dump any weight into them.
- Bring your gaze in-between your hands and engage your core to keep the spine straight.
- Slowly reach the right leg back and come onto the ball of the right foot. Ground down into the left leg and both arms. Keep the body steady and in the same structure as it was before.
- Engage the core as you lift the right leg off of the floor keeping it parallel to the floor at first.
- Start to bend the right knee so that the toes are pointing towards the ceiling. At the same time that you’re bending the knee, arch your spine. Keep pushing out through the hands.
- Engage your thigh to get the right leg as high as possible whilst keeping the bend in the right knee. Begin to open your shoulders more by tilting your head slightly backward to look up towards the ceiling.
- Stay here for 5-10 breaths before slowly releasing the leg to the ground. Take a few moments in tabletop to return to your breath and then do the same on the left side.
Common mistakes made when doing the pose
One of the biggest mistakes seen from people who are trying to do tiger pose is the dumping of weight into the shoulders. When going into tiger pose it can be easy to forget the elements that held the tabletop pose together. It’s important to keep pushing into the hands so as not to let all the weight go into the shoulders.
Another mistake that people make when doing tiger pose is letting the head drop down. The neck should stay in one line with the spine. The curve of the spine requires the head to move to stay in line with the spine. Many people forget to raise their heads slightly in this pose.
For those who are trying out tiger pose for the first time, it can be helpful to use a blanket. This pose can be sore on the knees and for those who aren’t used to it, padding the knees with a blanket can really help with that. Doing the pose for a small amount of time is also helpful.
Another useful tip is to get into the pose slowly. Break down the pose step by step to ensure you get into the pose correctly. By breaking down the pose, it’ll be easier to hold because all the elements needed to hold the pose will be set up already.
If someone is injured in the area of their knee, hip, wrist, or spine then they shouldn’t be doing tiger pose. If someone is feeling pain in any of these areas or whilst they are practicing the pose, then they should avoid doing it. Always listen to your body and never push past the point of pain. If something hurts, slowly back off from it and try a gentler pose. Consult a doctor or physician before doing any physical exercise or trying any yoga pose.
Variations of tiger pose
A variation of tiger pose, which many people find easier, is cat cow. This is a sequence pose whereby the person arches and rounds their spine in a tabletop position. This pose is also good for the spine and requires a strong tabletop foundation.
Another variation of tiger pose is whereby a person comes into tiger and then lifts the opposite hand of the foot raised and holds onto the foot with it. This requires more balance and focus. It’s a harder tiger pose variation and requires more of a backbend. It also has the same benefits as tiger pose.