Whenever someone tells me they think yoga is "too easy" for them, I nod understandingly but I'm secretly thinking: Have you tried Warrior III? Chaturangas? Boat pose? A consistent yoga practice can better your balance and make you flexy, it's true, but it can also leave your muscles burning. If you don't believe me, just try this flow, put together by the leading yogis of New York City’s Sky Ting yoga.
On the most recent episode of Well+Good’s Good Moves video series, co-founders Krissy Jones and Chloe Kernaghan dreamed up a sequence featuring yoga's most challenging (and rewarding) poses that work your legs, glutes, core, and arms. So, er, pretty much your entire body. "This is going to be a strengthening flow. We're going to do about 20 minutes, and you don't need anything. Just your yoga mat," says Kernaghan at the start of the video.
Of course, you'll get that sweet, sweet savasana (a resting pose) at the end of the practice. First though, let's get your yoga mat nice and sweaty.
Queue up this 20-minute strengthening yoga flow
1. Cat-cow: Come to all fours: shoulders over wrists, hips over knees. On an inhale, arch your back press your chest forward, looking up at the ceiling. On an exhale, tuck your pelvis under, rounding your back and peeking at your belly button.
2. Leg pulse: Come back to all fours and lift your right leg, bending it at the knee so that your toes point straight up to the sky. Keeping the hips squared, pulse the foot up and down and feel your glutes burn. Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Hydrant leg circles: Again, starting from all fours, circle your leg counterclockwise keeping your hips square.
4. Knee to elbow: Return to center, then kick your right leg straight back. Lift your left arm straight forward. On an inhale, engage your core and bring your left elbow to your right knee.
5. Cat-cow with knee hover: Return to all fours, lift your knees off the floor while tucking your pelvis under to engage your core. Move through a few more cat-cows from this challenging position.
Return to all fours and repeat steps two through five on the opposite side.
6. Downward dog: From all fours, lift your knees and push your hips up to move back into downward dog. Relax your neck so that you're looking straight back at your thighs. Spin your biceps out and your triceps in.
7. Forward fold: Bend your knees and slowly walk your hands backward until your chest is resting against your thighs in a forward fold. If your chest isn't touching your quads, bend your knees until they can. Interlace your fingers behind your neck and sway side to side.
8. Plank: Release your hands to the ground and walk forward until you're in plank pose: shoulders over wrists, hips tucked under, and your back completely flat. Feel your core!
9. Low cobra: From plank, slowly lower all the way to the ground while keeping your core firing. Once you land, rest your head on the floor and plant your hands alongside your chest. On an inhale, lift your head, neck, shoulders, and chest off the ground. Keep your gaze looking straight down at the floor so you don't strain your neck. On your exhale, lower down.
10. Plank: Tuck your toes, engage your core, and push straight upward into high plank.
11. Downward dog splits: Lift the hips up and back and return to downward dog. Float the right leg straight out behind you, keeping your hips as square as possible.
12. High lunge: Step your right foot forward between your hands. Keep the knee bent straight over your ankle. Lengthen the spine and open the chest. Engage the left leg and bring your hands to your right thigh. Tuck in your belly.
13. High plank with leg and arm lift: Plant your hands back on the floor and step back into high plank. Lift the left foot off the floor. Shift all of your weight into your left hand and reach the right arm straight forward.
Return to downward dog and repeat steps 11 through 13 on your left leg.
14. Upward facing dog: From downward dog, pull forward into a high plank then drop your hips to haver just over the floor and bring your chest forward.
15. Child's pose with prayer arms: Push back into down dog, drop your knees to the floor, and sit your seat back onto your heels. Stretch your arms straight forward then bend them, bringing your hands to an upside-down prayer behind your neck.
16. Knee plank: Release your prayer and press your hands into the ground. Come forward into a plank with your knees still on the ground. Drop your forearms onto the floor and clasp your hands together. Slowly, begin inching your elbows forward, engaging your abs all the while until your whole body meets the floor. Press back into downward dog.
17. High lunge: Step your right foot between your hands and sweep your torso upward, bring your arms alongside your ears.
18. Warrior III with leg crunch: Bring your hands to prayer at the center of your chest and slowly tip forward until you're balancing on your right foot and your body forms the letter. On an inhale, crunch the left knee in so it comes between your forearms. Re-extend leg and torso. Release your left toes to the floor and step back into plank, then downward dog.
Repeat steps 16 through 18 on the left side.
19. Boat pose: Come into a seat with your feet in front of your hips. Lift your feet up so your calves are parallel to the ground and extend your arms straight out in front of you. Straighten your legs if you like.
20. Boat pose crunches: On an inhale, lower your legs and chest so both hover just above the ground. This is called low boat. On an exhale, crunch back up to boat pose.
21. Bicycle: From low boat, begin pedaling your legs out, bringing your opposite knee to your opposite elbow.
22. Reverse tabletop: Return to seated with your legs bent in front of you. Bring your hands just behind your hips with fingers facing forward. Scoop your pelvis under and push your hips up to the sky. Lower down.
23. Active bridge pose: Lie on your back and walk your feet close to your butt. Reach the hands alongside the body and press the hips up to the ceiling. Interlace your hands underneath you and wrap your upper arm bones under your chest.
24. Figure four: Lower your hips back to the ground and knock your knees together to neutralize your pelvis. Cross your right leg over your left knee and hug your shin to feel a deep hip stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.
25. Full body shake: Lie onto your back and extend your arms and legs straight up. Shake them like crazy.
26. Savasana: Lie on your back. Bend your knees and bring your feet mat-width distance apart. Knock the knees in together and rest.
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