10 Yoga Poses Inspired by Animals

Ancient yogis believed imitating animals provided an enlightening experience.


Animal Poses
Woman in eagle yoga pose.

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Frog, camel, downward facing dog,  have you ever noticed how so many yoga poses are named after animals? That’s because ancient yogis found that imitating animals through poses provided an enlightening experience for both the body and mind, according to research published in the International Journal of Modern Pharmaceutical Research

When you enter an animal pose, you practice physical exercise and a psychological experience of embodying the characteristics of that animal. When you want to support your self-care, practice these 10 yoga poses inspired by animals.


Many may have negative associations with this slithering reptile, but did you know that snakes actually represent healing? According to the Journal of Pharmacy & Bioallied Sciences, the Caduceus, used as the symbol of medicine, consists of two coiled snakes. You can invite healing energies through cobra, a snake-like full body stretch that opens your heart, relaxes your lower back, and stimulates energy.

Women doing cobra yoga pose.

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The water dwelling fish is an important spiritual symbol that often relates to deeper awareness and intuition. Tap into these energies with the fish pose, a back-bending yoga posture to open your abdomen, chest, and throat.

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Crows are known for their cunning and intelligence, and some call them the smartest animal other than primates! The crow pose in yoga may look like an exercise in arm strength, but looks can be deceiving! Mastering this pose involves understanding your center of gravity and learning to distribute your weight and balance.

Man performing the crow yoga pose.

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Dolphins are both intelligent and instinctive, peaceful and playful, a perfect embodiment of balance. Bring harmony to your body in this inversion pose that strengthens your core and abdomen and improves posture.

Woman doing the dolphin yoga pose.

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Downward Facing Dog

Dogs have served as companions to humans for thousands of years, representing loyalty, often acting as protectors and guardians. In yoga, you can embody man’s best friend through this all body stretch that encourages full-body alignment while calming your mind.

Woman in downward facing dog yoga pose.

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These amphibians represent transformation and versatility. After all, they begin life hatching from eggs as small fish-like tadpoles, eventually growing legs and emerging from water to land. Transform and melt into the frog pose, a delightful hip opener to stretch your groin and inner thighs.

Woman performing the frog pose.

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Scorpions are desert insects often associated with passion and protection. The most challenging on the list, the scorpion pose in yoga is a test of self-trust and overcoming fear, an inverted pose that combines a backbend while balancing on your forearms.

Man in the scorpion pose.

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Happy Cow

Hindus consider cows sacred, representing the Mother goddesses, wealth, and abundance. Channel your happy cow with this seated cross-legged pose to open the hips. Bending forward in happy cow gives you an extra shoulder stretch to calm your mind.

This girl is in the happy cow pose.

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Camels can withstand extreme heat and carry considerable weight across miles and miles of desert. When you want to channel the endurance and toughness of camels, try this heart opening back-bend. The key? Avoid putting pressure on your lower back and lift from your thoracic (upper) spine and chest when you do the camel pose.

Women in the camel pose.

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This powerful bird of prey represents freedom and victory. Inspire the spirit of the eagle in this tricky pose that tests your flexibility, concentration, and balance while perching with wrapped legs and arms. Or, modify and open the chest with just eagle arms.

This couple is doing the eagle pose.

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