Past the Basics: Yoga Poses for Intermediate Levels

Ardha Chandrasana
Half-Moon Pose - Ardha Chandrasana. © Ann Pizer

Are you starting to feel a little too comfortable with the beginner yoga poses that you have learned so far? Then it's probably time to incorporate some intermediate postures into your repertoire. You may find some of these poses quite easy and others nearly impossible. "Intermediate" is a category with very fluid borders, so don't get discouraged. Yoga is a process and there are no deadlines. You have a lifetime to improve your strength and flexibility.

Standing Poses

At the intermediate level, standing poses begin to incorporate a lot more balancing and twisting, as well as building on the quad strength and hamstring flexibility you've been working on in more beginner poses. Take care to concentrate on your breathing and start slow before progressing to more advanced intermediate stances like revolved triangle pose or warrior III.

Seated Poses

The hip opening is the focus of most of these seated poses. If any of these poses are uncomfortable for you, don't be hesitant to use props like a rolled mat or blanket placed under your seat.

Backbends

This is the point where more intense back-bending comes into the picture for intermediate students. Many of these back bends are done in a prone position, i.e. lying on your belly.

When you feel ready, you can start to incorporate upward-facing dog and chaturanga (see below) into your vinyasas. Be sure to warm up with more basic poses first and use props like yoga blocks or small pillows if you need.

Arm Balances

Any pose where the arms support the majority of the body's weight can be classified as an arm balance. Although you are learning where your center of gravity is and how to distribute your weight so that you can balance, these starter poses help you build the arm strength and core strength that you'll need for more difficult arm balances later on.

​Inversions

Your first inversions are introduced at the intermediate level. Though they are sometimes taught in basic classes, they are amongst the most dangerous poses for beginners, so it makes sense to wait until you have more strength and body awareness.

Continue Reading