This sequence of yoga positions reminds me of Core Power Yoga (in Colorado) – Incorporating a few minutes of yoga into your schedule will make a world of difference!!! Tone your body, stretch out, focus on your health, relax, and let go of the daily grind. For more suggestions see the “Fat Burning Yoga Positions” full slide show at women’s health magazine.
This flowing power yoga sequence by David Magone, founder of PranaVayu Yoga in Boston, will raise your heart rate while introducing you to relaxation and meditative techniques that you can use off the mat.
Half sun salutation (ardha surya namaskara): Upward reach (urdhva hastasana)
Inhale. Sweep your arms overhead.
Half sun salutation (ardha surya namaskara): Standing forward bend (uttanasana)
Exhale. Keeping your back straight, hinge from your hips and fold forward taking your fingertips or palms to the floor next to your toes.
Half sun salutation (ardha surya namaskara): Half lift (ardha uttanasana)
Inhale. Lift from your full forward bend up to your fingertips, lengthening your spine forward and forming a right angle between your torso and your legs. Exhale, hinging from your hips and folding forward again to deepe the stretch to the backs of your legs. Inhale, keeping your spine straight and sweeping back up to standing. Extend your arms overhead. Exhale and bring your hands together in prayer position at your chest. Repeat the half sun salute 10 times. Note: If transitioning with straight legs between forward bend and standing bothers your back, bend your knees.
Chair pose (utkatasana)
After finishing your last round of the half sun salute, bend your knees and reach both hands overhead on an inhale. Lengthen your spine by gently scooping your tailbone toward your heels. Lift your belly muscles up and in. To relax your shoulders, turn your palms inward toward your face and allow your shoulder blades to slide downward your back. Hold for 10 full breaths. To release, straighten your legs coming to mountain pose and bring your hands to your chest in prayer position.
Low pushup (chaturanga)
Transition: Inhale, sweeping arms overhead. Exhale, hinging from your hips and folding forward. Inhale, lifting to your fingertips and lengthening your spine forward. Exhale, stepping back, squeezing your elbows into your ribs, and lowering to low pushup position (chaturanga). Engage your abs; reach through your heels and the crown of your head; relax your shoulders away from your ears.
Upward-facing dog (urdhva mukha svanasana)
Inhale, rolling over your toes to up dog, straightening your arms and pulling your chest through them to bend your back. Exhale and curl your toes under, lifting your hips into downward-facing dog pose (adho mukha svanasana). See next slide.
Downward-facing dog pose (adho mukha svanasana)
To protect your wrists, make sure that your middle fingers point directly forward. Press evenly through all parts of your hands. Keep your spine long and straight by pressing outward through your crown and scooping your tail as though it could touch the space between your heels. To engage your legs, rotate your heels slightly outward and press them toward the floor, drawing your kneecaps up as you do so. Press your heels closer to the floor every time you exhale. Hold for five full breaths.
Note: If keeping your back straight is difficult, practice down dog with bent knees.
Warrior II (virabhadrasana II)
Lift your right foot into the air from down dog. Look forward and step it up next to your right hand. Turn your left foot out about 25 degrees and place the heel down so your left arch lines up with your right heel. Inhale, bending your right knee, and come to standing with your torso facing left and your arms extended out at shoulder height. Keep your right knee stacked directly above your ankle. Stack your shoulders directly above your pelvis. Hold for 10 breaths.
Take a vinyasa: Exhale and return to plank pose and lower to chaturanga. Inhale and roll over your toes to up dog. Exhale, lifting your hips to come into down dog. Repeat warrior II on the other side.
Extended side angle pose (utthita parsvakonasana)
Step your right leg forward to warrior II position from downward dog. Keep your right leg bent and either stack your right arm on your right leg or place your right hand on the floor near the inside of your right foot. Keep the sides of your torso long and extend your left arm over the left ear creating a long line from the outside of your left foot all the way out through your left fingertips. Extend with your inhales and twist your torso open further every time you exhale. Hold for 10 breaths. To release, take a vinyasa and repeat on the other side.
Revolved side angle pose (parivrtta parsvakonasana)
From downward dog, lift your right foot into the air and step it forward between your hands. Keep your left heel up and bend your right knee. Sweep your arms up overhead into the crescent lunge. Square your hips to the front of the mat and lift them away from your thighs. Place your hands in a prayer position at your chest, lift your belly up and in and twist to the right. Cross your left elbow over your right leg and gently twist your torso to the right. Hold for 10 full breaths. To release, inhale your arms overhead, take a vinyasa and repeat on the other side.
Modification: If this is too difficult with the back knee raised, or you feel too wobbly, you can move your front foot toward the outer edge of your mat for stability or lower your knee to the floor (as shown here).
Corpse pose (savasana)
From a sitting position with your legs and arms stretched out in front of you, slowly roll down your back one section of spine at a time. Extend your legs on the floor and allow your feet to be slightly wider than your hips. Extend your arms out to the sides, palms facing up. Close your eyes and relax for 10 minutes.
Meditation technique for savasana
This body scanning method can be used to release tension, decrease anxiety, and cope with stressful situations. Although the technique can be used anywhere, it works particularly well with in corpse pose. Depending on how quickly you scan, the exercise can take between 5 and 15 minutes to complete. Here’s how:
Imagine that your body were made of candle wax. Shift your awareness to the crown of your head, and melt that space with your gaze. As the wax begins to melt, feel the tension releasing from your scalp. Scan downward slowly through your face, neck and the rest of the body until you reach your toes, spending extra time melting any areas that feel tense. To finish, scan from the toes all the way back to the crown of your head. When you have finished, focus your mind on the sound of your breath and simply relax.