Quadruped Yoga Poses You Need to Improve Your Yoga Practice

From beginners to yoga experts, there are plenty of benefits you can get from practicing quadruped yoga poses.

Image courtesy of Well and Good.

Yoga is comprised of dozens of poses that all work to enhance the physical experience of your body. It brings flexibility, clarity of mind, and breath control to those that practice it. However, with the amount of poses that exist within the yoga realm, it can be overwhelming to understand what yoga poses are best for their specific needs. Quadruped yoga poses are a great place for those just beginning to practice yoga, as well as those that have been practicing yoga for a long time.

The word quadruped is defined as an animal with four legs, such as zebras, horses, or giraffes. So, what are quadruped yoga poses? Quadruped yoga poses are any poses that begin on all fours on the ground. This can be all fours as in on your hands and knees, or up on your hands and feet like a plank. Whether advanced or a beginner, quadruped yoga poses can help benefit your yoga experience.

Learn about all of the benefits of various quadruped yoga poses with:

  • Quadruped Yoga Poses for Beginners
  • Advanced Quadruped Yoga Poses
Man practicing the cat/cow stretch.
Here is the cat/cow yoga stretch. This is just one of the quadruped poses recommended for beginners.

Quadruped Yoga Poses for Beginners

No matter how little experience you have, chances are that you have done some of these poses without even realizing it.

A majority of quadruped yoga poses are on the easier side in terms of yoga poses. This makes them the perfect place to start for those that have little to no previous yoga experience.

Child’s Pose: The child’s pose is one of the most simple yoga moves you can practice. The child’s pose involves sitting back on your heels, lowering your torso to the ground, and resting your forehead on the ground if you can. There are several options for what you can do with your arms. The traditional child’s pose is to reach your hands straight out in front of you, reaching as far as you can. Another option you have is to let your arms rest naturally at your sides.

There are various benefits to doing the child’s pose, even if it is quite simple in execution. With child’s pose, it allows you to practice mindfulness and helps to relieve stress. Staying in child’s pose, you can focus on your breathing to bring it down to a calm rhythm. While it may not be challenging to some, for those that aren’t as flexible, it can also be a good stretch for the hips and thighs.

Table Top: The table top pose is another very simple yoga pose that you can easily practice. It is as simple as going on your hands and knees with your back flat. This is the basis for many poses, and especially quadruped yoga poses. In fact, most quadruped poses are variations of the table top pose.

While it doesn’t seem like it is doing much, the table top has several benefits that transcend throughout the variations of the pose. Since the pose relies on support from your arms to keep you upright, it strengthens your shoulders and wrists. The table top pose also relieves tension in the spine, just as it does when you lay down.

Cat and Cow Poses: While two different poses, the cat and cow poses are typically done in tandem with one another. Up on your hands and knees in table top, to go into cat pose, you arch your back, collapsing your stomach, your back arches away from the floor. In order to go into cow pose, you arch your back in the opposite direction, so that it’s going down towards the floor with your stomach stretching out.

The cat and cow stretch is a common stretch seen in most yoga practices. Simply begin at table top and alternate between cat and cow in an effort to stretch your back in both directions. There are various benefits associated with the cat and cow stretch. As with the name, it does a wonderful job stretching out not just your back, but also your hips and your abdomen. Other benefits include the strengthening of your spine, as well as increasing your overall flexibility.

Frog Pose: The frog pose is similar to the cow pose, but instead of staying up on your hands, you lower yourself down onto your forearms. By making this transition, you are able to continue opening up and stretching out your back and spine. It also strengthens your shoulders and biceps more than the cow pose.

The Plank: It is essentially the pose you are in when doing a push up. There are a few ways to get into the plank pose. For those that don’t have as much experience, begin in the table top pose and extend your legs back. You can keep your legs resting on the floor, or lift them to see if you are capable of getting into the plank.

Benefits to performing a plank include similar benefits to other quadruped yoga poses, but to a larger degree. This includes strengthening your wrists and shoulders, as well as your spine and your core.

Now, the plank is the most advanced yoga pose on the beginner list. However, this may be too advanced for some. If you are unsure if you are able to do a plank, it is recommended that you get into the plank position, and rest on your knees, rather than fully committing to a plank. This will allow you to gradually build up the strength to stay in a full plank.

Though, don’t forget that there are a lot of other easy yoga poses for beginners that aren’t quadruped yoga poses. It is a good idea to expand your practice beyond quadruped yoga poses as you begin, so that you can build up your experience and reap the benefits of other poses that the quadruped poses don’t provide.

Woman performing advanced quadruped stretch.
If the basic quadruped poses aren’t challenging you as much as you’d like, there are ways to add a challenge to these poses.

Advanced Quadruped Yoga Poses

Take the basics and add a challenge to continue advancing your yoga skills!

For those of you beyond the basic child’s pose and cat/cow pose, there are still ways to get more out of these basics to challenge yourself. These advanced quadruped yoga poses are essentially variations of the basic poses that add an element of challenge for those that are up for it.

The Plank: Yes, the plank is back. Depending on your personal strength, performing a plank may be one of the yoga poses you try to avoid. If that’s the case, it is still worth giving it a try. Even if you are usually performing planks during your yoga practice, try different variations of the plank. For example, if you usually do a plank on your forearms, try moving up to your palms. If that still isn’t enough, there are more complicated variations that you can try.

Plank Twists: Plank twists are variations of the traditional plank. Beginning in a plank, you can choose to stay with both of your hands or forearms on the ground and twist your hips so that they are adjacent to the ground. For a more advanced twist, you can lift one hand off the ground, reaching it high up, and facing the direction of the hand that is in the air.

Depending on which type of twist or variation you are performing, there are different benefits that you will see. However, for most twists you will be strengthening your core like a traditional plank, but it also strengthens your obliques, which go unaffected in a traditional plank. Depending on the type of twist you are doing, it can also focus on strengthening your upper abs or lower abs, unlike a traditional plank.

Advanced Frog Pose: The advanced frog pose is the same as the frog pose, but with your legs spread apart. Beginning in the traditional frog pose with your back arched and forearms on the ground, spread your legs out as much as you can so that your inner thighs are as close to parallel to the ground as possible. Doing this pose will really stretch out your thighs and your hips. Remember to not over do it, or you may risk tearing something.

Man performing quadruped yoga poses in an effort to incorporate them into his daily workout.
Quadruped yoga poses are a great, simple way to incorporate some yoga and mindfulness into your existing workout routine.

Whether you have been practicing yoga your whole life or are just now getting into it, quadruped yoga poses are a great way to improve your overall yoga experience. From the classic child’s pose to the advanced frog pose, there is something for everyone, no matter your abilities. While this isn’t a complete list of all of the quadruped yoga poses, it is a great place to begin.

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Dean Pinnell

Dean Pinnell is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Communication and Fiction Writing.
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