5 Tips To Make Any Yoga Class Kick Your Ass
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Are you that yogi who always looks for the word “power” in front of any yoga class description?

Do you pick your studios based on heat level?

Are you the first one jumping into navasana and the last one to come out?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of the above, these tips are for you!

1. Add knee-to-nose before any warrior series.

Knee-to-nose and knee-to-elbow series cultivate front body strength and control and will provide your obliques with a killer workout!

From downward dog:

Inhale right leg up and back to three-legged dog.

Exhale knee to nose or forehead.

Repeat 5 times before stepping forward to warrior I or high lunge.

Note: Use this same series, from a three-legged dog, to move knee to same elbow or opposite elbow on your exhale.

Bonus:

From downward dog:

Inhale three-legged dog.

Exhale knee to elbow.

Inhale here.

Exhale knee to opposite elbow.

Repeat this crossing motion 10 times. 

Then bring knee to nose and step foot through to warrior I or high lunge.

2. Flow straight down between vinyasas.

Sometimes we have a tendency to pause in a mountain pose between vinyasas. Looking to build the heat? When moving from Sun Salutation A, move straight from arms overhead to forward fold. When moving from Sun Salutation B, move straight from your second set of chair pose to a forward fold.

3. Jump back to chaturanga from crow.

Spice up your Sun Salutation B by moving from a chair with feet hips width distance apart to a crow pose. From crow, engage the core muscles in the front body to spring UP (lifting knees off arms) and then back to chanturanga or low pushup position.

Note: It is important to jump back to a low pushup with elbows bend to avoid putting pressure on the shoulders and spine. Landing with elbows bent takes the pressure off of these areas and maxes out the strength and engagement through the arms.

4.  Add a chaturanga push-up after up dog and before down dog.

Yes, that push-up that you had to do to pass gym class in middle school ceases to leave you, even in the yoga room! In yoga, we put a spin on the push-up. Moving into chaturanga, elbows graze the ribs and are close to the body. This engages the triceps, different muscles than you were probably taught to use in middle school!  Check out this sequence:

Inhale high plank.

Exhale chaturanga (low plank).

Inhale upward dog.

Exhale back to chaturanga (low plank).

Inhale press up and back to downward dog.

Note: You’ll notice that moving back through that low plank before downward dog moves you through a reverse pushup… gotcha! 

5. Add a handstand between side one and side two of your vinyasa.

You’ve added in your chaturanga push-ups and are ready to use that arm strength. Adding in a handstand after a warrior series, but before moving through a vinyasa, is a great way to put your strength and balance to the test. 

Here’s a flow to try this out (placing your mat one and a half feet from the wall gives you a crash-pad for the heels as you build confidence). 

Starting from downward dog:

Inhale right leg lifts.

Exhale step right foot through (or add some knee to nose action first).

Inhale to rise warrior I.

Exhale plant palms to frame right foot.

Inhale kick up left leg lifts first to handstand.

Exhale dive down chaturanga.

Inhale upward dog.

Exhale downward dog and onto other side!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Leigh is a freelancer, education developer, and music enthusiast. When she’s not writing, creating, or mixing up the beats, she is teaching yoga in San Francisco. Channeling her passions for health and wellness into education, she brings a vibrant practice to yogis of all ages and abilities. Coastal hikes, golden berries, and photography color her free time. Check out her website for funky playlists to inspire your dancing mood.

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