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Star pose: Astronaut demos microgravity yoga on International Space Station

Expedition 67 astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, of the European Space Agency, holds a yoga pose on the International Space Station.
Expedition 67 astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, of the European Space Agency, holds a yoga pose on the International Space Station. (Image credit: ESA/Samantha Cristoforetti)

English-speaking yoga teachers often evoke space in their pose names, with examples including "crescent moon" and "star" positions.

Now an astronaut is getting these moves on during microgravity exercise on the International Space Station.

Expedition 67 astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti recently shared a picture of herself on Twitter doing "triangle pose" in the Japanese Kibo laboratory, a popular spot for astronauts to pose for pictures and press conferences.

"Who says you can't do yoga in space! At least you can try," the European Space Agency astronaut tweeted (opens in new tab) on Tuesday (June 21), along with the photo. The Italian spaceflyer added that she wants to try out an even more ambitious routine soon.

Related: Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti makes history with 1st TikTok from International Space Station

Cristoforetti, who is on TikTok to reach younger audiences, recently teamed up with Cosmic Kids Yoga (opens in new tab) (a private company in operation since 2012) to develop a yoga routine optimized for space exploration.

"You know what? I love doing yoga here on Earth, and I'm wondering, would it work up there in space?" Cristoforetti asked in a May 23 video posted on the Cosmic Kids YouTube channel (opens in new tab).

In response, certified yoga teacher Jaime Amor played out a possible space routine for Cristoforetti in the 20-minute video, adding a Yoga in Space activity pack (opens in new tab) for youngsters looking to stretch and do resistance training along with the astronaut.

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Other astronauts have successfully done yoga in orbit before Cristoforetti. For example, NASA astronauts Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson showed off some balancing poses in 2017, although Fischer joked on Twitter (opens in new tab) that these are a lot easier to hold "without gravity."

Additionally, NASA Christina Koch — who spent nearly a year in space — lists yoga as one of her leisure activities in her official agency biography (opens in new tab).

Yoga has numerous health benefits including improving strength, balance and flexibility, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine (opens in new tab); yoga is also associated with more energy and better stress management, among other health outcomes.

The United Nations celebrated International Yoga Day on Tuesday (June 21) and noted that yoga has been crucial for worldwide health since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

"People around the world embraced yoga to stay healthy and rejuvenated and to fight social isolation and depression during the pandemic," the UN wrote (opens in new tab)

"Yoga is also playing a significant role in the psycho-social care and rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients in quarantine and isolation. It is particularly helpful in allaying their fears and anxiety."

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Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc (opens in new tab). in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.