5 Animal-inspired exercises to try now!

Take some tips from the animal kingdom on how to increase flexibility, build muscles and increase stamina. By Ayushi Khandelwal


  1. Tortoise pose
    Popularly known as Kurmasana in yoga, this pose resembles a tortoise when it withdraws into its shell. Just like a tortoise this pose aims to help you withdraw into your inner world and detached from the distracting world around you. This exercise is really beneficial for calming the mind, strengthening the back, toning the abdominal organs, and encouraging the suppleness of hips.

Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs straight in front of you and hands alongside your hips. Press your thighs into the floor and push your chest outwards. Now, bend your knees and keep your feet flexed. Stretch your arms and chest forward and down between your legs. Bend your knees further so that you can bring your shoulders under them. Stretch your arms to the side and roll your thighs inwards and extend your inner heels. Make sure your chest and collarbone are forward and facing downwards. Try to straighten your legs by pushing your heels down on the ground. Inhale and continue to spread your arms to your sides. Exhale to extend your spine farther forward. Hold this pose as long as you are comfortable and then gently come back to the starting position.

Abstain from doing this exercise if you are suffering from any hip, arm, shoulder or back injuries. Also avoid if you have herniated discs. Women shouldn’t do this pose while pregnant or menstruating.
Photograph: Yanalya/


2. Fish pose
This is a yoga asana that’s also known as Matsyasana. This pose when don’t correctly in water allows the body to float easily like a fish. The fish pose is great for stretching your neck and chest, relieving the tension in your neck and shoulders, provides relief from respiratory disorders and tones the parathyroid, pituitary, and pineal glands.

Start by lying on your back with your hands relaxed alongside your body. Now, place your hands underneath the hips with your palms facing downwards. Make sure that the elbows are close to the body. Inhale deeply and lift your head and chest up. Keeping your chest raised, lower your head backwards and touch the crown of your head to the floor. Your elbows should be firmly on the ground so that the body weight falls on them, not on your head. Take gentle, deep breaths, and hold this pose for few seconds. To release the pose, lift your head up and lower your chest and head to the floor.

Avoid this exercise if you have high or low blood pressure, and suffer from migraines, insomnia or any serious lower-back or neck injuries.
Photograph: Kennguru/Wikimedia Commons


3. Crow pose
As the name suggests, this exercise is a replica of the physical shape of a crow. Also known as Kakasana in yoga, it strengthens shoulders, arms, and wrists, improves balance, stretches the muscles of the forearms, fingers and wrists, and improves concentration.

Squat on the ground and bring your arms between your knees. Ensure that your palms are firmly placed on the ground. Bend your elbows out to the sides so as to support your knees. Now, choose any point in front of you on the ground and focus on it. Inhale, and lean forwards towards the point. Transfer your weight onto your palms and lift your toes up. Exhale, and hold this pose for 30-60 seconds while keeping your focus.

Refrain from doing this pose if you have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or any wrist or neck injuries. Women should avoid this pose while pregnant.
Photograph: Yanalya/


4. Eagle pose
Also known as Garudasana in yoga, this pose is a relatively simple one. It stretches your shoulders, arms, hips, thighs and upper back. It also improves balance and concentration, strengthens the calves, helps alleviate rheumatism and sciatica, and makes legs and hips supple.

Stand with your feet together, arms by your side. Distribute your weight evenly on both feet. Now, bend your knees and lift your right foot up to cross it over the left foot. Ensure that the left foot is firmly placed on the ground. And the right thigh should be above your left one. Next, stretch your arms forward and make them parallel to the ground. Cross the left arm over the right one and bend your elbows. Then take your left palm back and make it face the right palm. Touch your palms together. Your fingers should be stretched upwards. To maintain this pose, sharp focus is needed, so make sure to gaze at a particular point in the distance for concentration. To release the pose, first release your hands and then the legs. Come back to the original position and repeat the exercise with the other leg.

Refrain from doing this pose if you have any knee, elbow or ankle injury.
Photograph: Yanalya/


5. Firefly pose
Popularly referred to as Tittibhasana, this is one of the advanced yoga asanas. It should be performed under supervision. In this pose, the body resembles with that of a firefly. Though challenging, this exercise helps in strengthening the wrists and arms, tones the under belly, stretches the hamstrings, back torso, and inner groin area, and strengthens the core.

Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Stretch your arms up and bend down so that your palms are touching the ground. Now bend your knees, lift your left leg on your toes and slowly take your left arm behind your left leg. Do the same with your right shoulder. Now both your arms should be in between your legs with your palms flat on your ground just behind your heels. Your shoulders should also be between your knees. Your knees can be bent this entire time. Next, drop your buttocks down towards the floor so that they can by supported by your arms. Gaze forward and slowly lift your feet off the ground. Gently straighten your ankles and try to straighten your legs and arms. Hold this pose for five to ten breaths. To release this pose, bring your feet firmly back on the ground and get into a squat.

Abstain from doing this pose if you have lower back, elbow, wrist or shoulder injury.
Photograph: Yanalya/


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