Pretzel Poses: Unusual New Yoga Positions

Though the practice of yoga may be steeped in tradition, yogis all over the country are embracing inventive new techniques in service of physical and spiritual betterment. Some of these cutting-edge practices involve vertical poles or aerial silks; others simply push the twisty limits of human flexibility.

New York magazine recently highlighted some of the city's leading yoga innovators, including our own Sophie Herbert. Watch "The Martha Stewart Show" to see some of these yoga teachers demonstrate their unusual poses.

Eka Pada Sirsasana (Leg Behind the Head)

Sophie Herbert of the Park Slope Yoga Center presents her reclined version of the classic eka pada sirsasana pose, in which the leg is wrapped around the head. "It's a little unusual and, I think, a bit goofy," she says, adding that it requires a careful balance between strength, flexibility, and mental calm.

Aerial Split

As an aerial yoga instructor at Yoga Sutra NYC, Megan Hornaday uses vertically hung silks to help her students discover the flexibility they didn't know they had. It starts with a basic move called "footwalk" and progresses to more advanced positions, like the split she demonstrates on the show.

Natarajasana (The Dancer)

Adam Rinder and Kathryn Ulrich teach AcroYoga, a partner-based practice that incorporates yoga, Thai massage, and acrobatics. Their take on the Natarajasana pose, which symbolizes Shiva dancing in a ring of fire, allows the flier to achieve a fuller expression of the back-bending form.

Pushma Flower Meditation

Hari Nam Singh Khalsa, a Kundalini yoga instructor at Golden Bridge Yoga, demonstrates a hand position that is more of a meditation than a physical posture. By curving and tensing the fingers in a particular way, the practitioner unleashes a powerful energy flow. "This is a very helpful meditation to be able to stretch your mind and experience something very vast," he says.

Learn about Sophie's new yoga video series on Whole Living Daily.

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