Feeling lethargic? Unfocused? Need to release some energy and stretch your body out? You aren’t alone, whether you’re restless from social distancing or worn out from the front lines of essential work. Below you will find an energizing yoga flow that you can do in your own home, backyard, balcony or wherever you find yourself – eventually including from the airport, your hotel room or even on the beach.
This sequence will get your blood pumping, twist your torso, and lengthen your body while strengthening muscles throughout. All you need is 15-20 minutes and you’ll finish feeling rejuvenated and peacefully at ease.
To find and connect to your breath is to find unity within yourself. Many believe yoga to be a practice composed of stretching, but it goes much deeper than that. Yoga is a breathing practice and everything else is considered secondary.
Yoga uses a breathing technique called ujjayi. It is performed by breathing deeply in and out through the nose. As you inhale, you should feel the air fill up your chest and lungs while swirling around the back of your throat, this allows for an audible exhalation back out through the nose where the sound resembles an ocean, wave-like quality. Employ this breath during every yoga posture.
Sun Salutation A
We begin with Sun Salutation A, a dynamic sequence that creates a flow of movement by marrying breath to the postures. Incredibly energizing, this sequence will generate heat in your body making it a perfect practice in itself, or a great preparation to prevent injury before going deeper into standing postures. Take yourself through this flow 5 times:
Inhale, circle your arms overhead finding a long body stretch, gaze up
Exhale, fold your torso forward chest falls to thighs, bend your knees as much as you need to
Inhale, halfway lift, press your hands to your shins gaze pulls forward slightly as you lengthen through the crown of your head
Exhale, plant your hands and step back to a push-up position
Inhale, tip forward on your toes, gaze down past your fingertips
Exhale, lower halfway down to the bottom of your push-up, try keeping your elbows tucked tightly in
Inhale, roll over the tops of your toes pulling your chest through your arms and gaze up
Exhale, tuck the toes back under tilt your hips up high, downward-facing-dog.
Take 5 breaths in your down dog. Take up space in this inverted V shape. Pull your chest to your thighs. The thighs towards the back of your space. Really notice your body in these shapes, allow your breath to start to respond to the sensation.
Inhale, pull your gaze forward to your fingertips
Exhale, walk, step, or jump your feet to meet your hands
Inhale, halfway lift hands to shins and lengthen the spine
Exhale, fold forward, bend your knees if needed to allow the chest to touch the thighs
Inhale, stand all the way up, lifting your arms overhead gaze follows to the sky
Exhale, hands to heart center, gaze forward and reconnect
Utthita Trikonasana, Extended Triangle Posture
This yoga posture will lengthen your hamstrings while strengthening all the muscles in your legs as well as back. Position your feet so they are about one leg-length apart. Point your right toes out while keeping your left foot at an angle. With your arms in a “T” position, reach your right hand towards your right shin, ankle or toe while reaching your left arm towards the sky keeping your upper body aligned with the right leg. Each inhale is an opportunity to find length through the crown of the head, while each exhale is an opportunity to move deeper into the posture by spinning your heart towards the sky and opening your chest. Stay here for 5-10 rounds of breath.
Parivritta Trikonasna, Revolved Triangle Posture
Take the same stance as Extended Triangle Posture, but step your left foot forward shortening your stance and squaring your hips to the earth. Place your left hand on the floor or your shin, while reaching the right arm and your gaze towards the sky. Keep moving the right hip back and the left hip forward so that they stay aligned, keeping your legs active as you rotate the spin and find a nice deep twist. Remain here for 5-10 rounds of breath. This deep-twisting posture is wonderful for stimulating digestive organs and helps with balance and concentration.
Prasarita Padottanasana, Feet Spread Intense Stretch Posture
This yoga posture will help stretch your hamstrings, hips, calves, lower back, and spine while reversing your blood flow. Take a wide stance with your legs, about the same as Triangle Posture, with your feet pointed slightly inward. Fold your torso forward and bring your hands to the floor between the feet and under your hips. If this is too much of a stretch, you can place your hands on your shins, or out on the floor in front of you while bending the knees. Actively press down through the feet while pulling your chest closer to your thighs. Maybe your head even touches the ground here. Stay for 5-10 rounds of breath.
Vriksasana, Tree Pose
If you’re looking for ways to improve and strengthen your posture, tree pose is a great shape to practice. Come to a standing position, with both feet anchored to the ground and your arms at your side. Start to place all of your weight into your left foot pressing through all the corners of your foot while engaging your core and lifting through the crown of the head. Start to lift your right foot to your shin, or inner right thigh. Hands can come to your heart or extend them towards the sky, finding an expression that works for you. Stay for 10 or more breaths. If you fall, see if you can come back to the shape and employ your breath to help you find balance.
Utkatasana, Chair Pose
This pose stretches your upper body while deeply strengthening the muscles around your hips and in your thighs as well as ankles. Come back to that standing posture with both feet anchored to the ground and arms alongside your body. Slowly start to bend your knees sinking your bottom towards the earth while lifting your arms and gaze towards the sky. Really engage your core here by pulling your belly button towards your spine and tilting your pelvis forward and down. Inhales lift your arms, gaze, and torso higher while your exhales provide an opportunity to sink your hips lower to the ground. Stay here for 10 or more breaths. Try and stay long enough to really feel some sensation building in your thigh muscles.
Padangusthasana, Foot Big Toe Posture
To end, a posture that stretches the spine and back while strengthening the legs and rejuvenates the mind. Place your feet hip-width distance apart and fold your chest forward over your thighs. Grab your big toes with your peace fingers and continuously pull your chest towards your thighs maintaining a nice long spine. If needed, feel free to grab your ankles with your hands and go to that “half-way lift” stance or even bend the knees. Avoid rounding the back and keep your neck long. Stay here for 10 inhales and 10 exhales.
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