The Yoga Pose You’d Most Benefit From, According to Your Enneagram Type

published Mar 18, 2021
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A good yoga practice goes beyond just the physical benefits of improved flexibility and posture. Stepping onto your mat can be stress-relieving, energy-boosting, and the perfect place for self-observation. In the hustle and bustle of today’s world, it’s so easy to miss the subtle signs your mind and body send you, and taking space for yourself is key to avoiding burnout and cluing in to what you need, when you need it.

Perhaps the best thing about yoga is that anybody (literally, any body) can practice if they want to. It’s not about being the strongest, the fastest, or something that you’re either good or bad at. Instead, it’s about learning and adapting to your own rhythms to create unity between your mind, body, and spirit. 

Looking to the Enneagram system can make your yoga practice feel even more personalized and empowering. After all, the Enneagram is a personality-typing system that highlights people’s core fear that keeps them stuck in the same patterns. Given the interconnectedness of your mind and body, what better place to get aligned than by tapping into who you are and how you tick on your yoga mat?

“Yoga is all about removing layers to get to the core of yourself, what’s most important to you, and what’s essential to your well-being,” Ashley Sorensen, a certified yoga instructor of The Yogi Next Door, says. “Understanding your Enneagram type is another great way to dive more deeply into yourself and use that level of understanding to tap into what you need and what you want.” 

From heart openers and hip stretches to chakra-centered releases, there are all types of yoga poses out there. Find the one that you’d most benefit from below, based on your Enneagram number. If you don’t know your type, you can take the official Riso-Hudson test online here.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Type One, the Reformer: Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)

You are diligent, principled, and hardworking — but you also put a TON of pressure on yourself to be perfect. When things aren’t “good” or “right” by your standards, your body is the first to experience stress. Extended Puppy Pose is a wonderful shoulder opener to release the pent-up tension you feel from holding in frustration when things are unjust or people don’t carry their weight.

Surrender to gravity by pulling your shoulders down as you stretch your arms long, and don’t forget to unclench your jaw. With each exhale, focus on letting go of guilt, anger, and perfectionism. “Remain connected with your breath and make adjustments to make the pose work best for you,” Sorensen says. “Maybe this means modifying it to be ‘easier’ and that’s okay! The only wrong way to do yoga is to ignore the messages from your body.”

Mantra: I let go of mistakes and expectations so that I can live with ease. 

Type Two, the Helper: Garland Pose (Malasana)

You are selfless, empathetic, and driven to care for others. You intuitively pick up on other people’s needs and often drop everything to put them first… but when it comes to your own needs, things are a bit fuzzy. Balancing your root chakra with Garland Pose helps you tap into your primal instincts on what it is you desire for yourself.

“This chakra is all about grounding, connection, and building stability,” Sorensen says. “From that secure place, you can cultivate emotional and spiritual balance.” This grounding pose also brings you closer to Earth to quiet that chattering mind of yours, often looking outwards for validation and being needed. When the connection to your root chakra is strong, you create inner stability to take care of yourself first, knowing that you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Mantra: I am worthy of my own love and attention. 

Type Three, the Achiever: Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

You strive for greatness in everything that you do and go above and beyond to meet your goals. 

You can also get so caught up in the pursuit of success that you morph into a version of yourself that earns the most praise. This may cause you to lose sight of your true self and make emotional intimacy difficult. A yoga pose like Camel can help you reactivate your heart center to understand your true desires.

“When you open the heart chakra, you welcome more empathy, love, and forgiveness for yourself and others so you can see you are worthy just as you are,” Sorensen says. Camel not only strengthens your spine and back muscles, but it allows prana (vital energy) to flow freely so you can take action from a place of love, within your work and in developing authentic relationships.

Mantra: When I am true to myself, I recognize my own self-worth. 

Type Four, the Individualist: Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

Creative, sensitive, and expressive, you desire to present yourself authentically in the world. This pursuit of a strong identity, however, can lead you to compare yourself with others and exist in a perpetual state of “not enoughness.” You may get fully absorbed in your emotional world and unintentionally let it define your state of being. What you need is a powerful pose like Bow to activate your solar plexus chakra, which governs strength and stamina. This will allow you to build self-esteem and confidence instead of focusing on what separates you from others. As you’re holding this pose, remind yourself of the inner power you carry when you give yourself permission to be whole, as is.

Mantra: I am complete and full of inner strength. 

Credit: Julia Steele

Type Five, the Investigator: Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

You seek knowledge and a deep understanding of the world. When things feel even the slightest bit overwhelming, you retreat into your private little world. In the process, you tend to cut off from your feelings and communication with others. While this might feel right for you in the moment, growth occurs when you’re able to express yourself. What better way to do that than to open up your heart and throat chakras? Fish Pose elevates feelings of compassion and contentment, breathing vitality into your body the longer you hold it. This stress-relieving posture will help you get out of your head and flurry of thoughts to feel more balanced and in tune with your innermost emotions, which is what leads to great ideas and connection. 

Mantra: When I open myself up, aligned opportunities follow.

Type Six, the Loyalist: Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)

You long for security and stability, which you often look outwards for by working hard and building strong relationships. The ultimate growth path for you is creating an inner sense of stability, as you tend to go into anxious thought loops more often than you’d like to admit. A fortifying pose like Dolphin helps you embrace your physical and mental strength on the mat. It also opens up your third eye chakra to guide you towards enlightenment and the wisdom that you carry.

“When we are able to connect with our intuition from a place of stability and connection with ourselves, it’s like talking with a highly trusted guide who knows inherently the best choices for you,” Sorensen says. Instead of making decisions out of fear, Dolphin empowers you to connect with your intuition so you can find all the answers you seek.

Mantra: When I connect to my intuition, I will find the clarity that I need. 

Type Seven, the Enthusiast: Mountain Pose (Tadasana) 

You don’t want to miss a beat or a moment experiencing all the adventures that life has to offer. But as you know, life isn’t all glitter and unicorns, and sooner or later you have to face the hardships. It’s tempting to want to run away or distract yourself with something shiny or new, but learning to slow down and confront your emotions is where true healing comes. Mountain Pose helps you embrace those moments of stillness to set the foundation for proper alignment, both physically and mentally. This standing pose improves body awareness to help you redistribute your high-energy from your head to the rest of your body.

“These pauses give you a chance to scan through the body and notice any physical sensations, thoughts, or emotions that are coming up throughout your practice,” Sorensen says. As you’re flowing through this pose, Sorensen suggests checking every part of your body from the feet up as you come into alignment. How does it feel to be present and in tune with yourself, your mat, and your surroundings?

Mantra: I am happy to simply “be.”

Type Eight, the Challenger: High Lunge (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana)

The psoas muscle is directly connected to your fight or flight response, which contracts under stress. “The psoas is a very large, important muscle located at the deepest level of the core,” Sorensen says. “When this muscle is overexerted, you might experience low back pain, posture issues, or difficulty when transitioning from sitting to standing.”

Stretching it out with High Lunge serves as a release of the tension you build up from overexerting your energy and always trying to be tough. Sorensen suggests trying your high lunge against a door frame or piece of furniture to relieve tension, correct the anterior/posterior tilt in the pelvis, and rebuild stability. Find strength within the stillness of holding this pose and allow yourself to be present with what you’re feeling. You’ll be stronger because of it.

Mantra: By finding power in vulnerability, I can show up and be my full self. 

Type Nine, the Peacemaker: Breath of Fire (Kapalabhati)

Kind, adaptable, and level-headed, the peacemakers of the Enneagram need to make peace with their anger in order to step into their full potential. It’s often forgotten about in order to avoid conflict and keep things in balance, but denying anger is denying a huge part of your humanness. Once you stop looking at it as “bad” or “negative” and start looking at it as something to further understand yourself, your priorities will become much clearer. The Breath of Fire pose opens up your solar plexus chakra to help you feel more in control and command your space with confidence. Allow the repressed anger to rise from your belly up and let it all go as you exhale. 

Mantra: My anger is a tool for understanding myself and what it is I want.