Yoga poses have strong symbolism and knowing the meaning behind some of the most common yoga poses can bring more magic to your practice. Here are several of the most common yoga poses (asanas) and what each of them symbolizes:

Prayer pose – also referred to as Anjali Mudra, prayer pose is probably the most common pose. Most yogis are very familiar with this in showing gratitude, respect or prayer. Instead of holding your hands flat against each other, try to create a small space between the palms, into which you can visualize yourself putting your intentions or prayers.

Tree pose – also known as Vrksasana, tree pose offers an opportunity to align with the beauty and wisdom that is offered by nature by encouraging you to extend your roots into the ground while reaching your arms and hands upward toward the sky. The shape of the pose requires a strong leg to stand on, which represents the trunk of a tree, and the pose also requires steady balance and flexibility. The symbolism reflects holding flexibility versus rigidity, to help prevent you from breaking if you were to be blown by a strong wind (challenges in life).

Cobra – cobras shed their skin and return renewed. The cobra does not have arms, so it uses its strong spine to life its head. As you hold this pose, engage your back to lift your heart and consider this an opportunity to convert fear into love. Just as a cobra sheds its dead skin, you may shed your limiting beliefs that may be preventing you from living with strength and heart at the center of everything.

Happy baby – also referred to as Ananda Balasana, happy baby offers a reminder to cultivate happy appreciation of the simple things. With this pose, you are encouraged to return to an innocent state of being – a time when you were happy to simply hold your own feet. The goal is to search for softness in the hips and back and hold that space for appreciation in your heart.

Mountain pose – also referred as Tadasana, this pose is the foundation for all standing yoga poses. It is solid, stable and deep. When looking to feel a sense of balance, stand tall and steady in mountain pose and envision yourself as a mountain. When looking to connect with your true potential and the great number of possibilities in front of you, envision yourself standing at the top of a mountain with clouds around you and treetops below you.

Savasana – a deeply healing and rejuvenating pose that allows you to imagine letting go of all of the things that do not best serve you. Simply imagine those parts falling away and rise from this pose feeling rejuvenated in mind, body and spirit.

There are many benefits to yoga, which are executed through the physical movement as well as through awareness and intention. Knowing the symbolism of each pose (asana) can only expand upon the benefits of yoga in your life.