30-Minute Total-Body-Toning Yoga Sequence
If doing more yoga is a goal of yours| but you’re a little nervous to take a class| this sequence is designed with you in mind. Dedicated to toning every part of your body| these basic poses may look simple| but they offer an amazing and effective burn| especially in your legs| tush| and arms.
Unroll your mat and complete two Sun Salutation A’s and two Sun Salutation B’s to warm up. This should take about eight to 10 minutes; take your time moving slowly and holding Down Dog for five full breaths. Then move on to this 20-pose sequence| following through on the right side| then on the left| and end in a well-deserved Savasana. Within 30 minutes you’ll feel strong| open| and calm.
| Side Fierce
- Begin standing at the front of your mat with feet together.
- As you inhale| bend the knees and squat down| raising the arms into the air.
- Exhale to cross your left elbow over to your outer right knee. Press your palms together| and actively push your bottom elbow against your thigh to lift and rotate your chest up| increasing the twist. Pull your left hip back slightly| making sure both knees are parallel.
- Stay in Side Fierce for five breaths.
| Rotated Side Angle Prayer
- From Side Fierce| keep your arms and torso where they are as you carefully step the left leg back into a lunge position.
- Continue to press your palms together firmly| pushing into your bottom arm to lengthen the spine and increase the twist.
- Gaze over your right shoulder| breathing for five full breaths.
| Downward Facing Dog
- From Rotated Side Angle Prayer| release the twist and bring the palms to the floor.
- Step the right leg back coming into plank position.
- Now you’re ready to do a vinyasa. Exhale to bend the elbows behind you| lowering the body until your elbows are at 90 degrees| called Chaturanga.
- Inhale as you swoop the chest forward coming into Upward Facing Dog| resting on the feet| and exhale to lift the hips coming into the upside-down V-shape shown above known as Down Dog.
- Try to keep equal weight in the hands and feet as you breathe deeply| enjoying this pose for five breaths.
| Three-Legged Dog
- From Downward Dog| step the feet together so your big toes are touching. Keep the left heel on the mat and inhale to raise your right leg in the air| coming into Three-Legged Dog.
- Hold here for five breaths with the shoulders parallel to the floor| keeping the belly still and breathing into the chest.
| Knee-Up Plank
- From Three-Legged Dog| shift your weight forward| bringing your shoulders over the wrists| as you bend the right knee into the chest.
- Hold here in Knee-Up Plank for five breaths.
| Arching Three-Legged Dog
- From Knee-Up Plank| shift your weight back| raising the right leg into the air.
- Actively bend the right knee| lift your head up| and turn to look over your left shoulder| arching the spine. Think about drawing your head and foot toward each other.
- Stay here for five breaths| keeping the core strong.
| Warrior 2
- From Arching Three-Legged Dog| step the right foot forward between the hands and lift the torso up.
- Open the hips| arms| and chest to the left side of your mat| gazing over the right fingertips.
- Hold here with the right thigh parallel to the floor for five breaths.
- From Warrior 2| straighten the right leg| and turn the toes so both heels are pointing in (photo above shows the front view of the pose).
- Bend your knees coming into a wide squat until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Your knees should be directly over your ankles| so adjust your feet if you need to.
- Lift your arms up| bending your elbows so they are at 90-degree angles| opening the palms away from you.
- Hold here for five deep breaths.
| Warrior 3
- From Goddess| straighten your legs| and step your right foot to the front of your mat so the feet are together.
- Shift weight into your right foot| and extend your arms overhead. As you lift your left leg behind you| lower your chest so your torso and left leg are parallel to the floor.
- Draw your belly in to protect your lower back. If your lower back hurts| place your hands on your hips.
- Balance in Warrior 3 for five deep breaths.
| Burning Low Lunge
- From Warrior 3| release the left foot back| coming into Warrior 2 position. Bring your right arm to the inside of your right leg.
- Lower your torso and reach your right arm underneath your bent right knee. Interlace both hands in front of your right ankle.
- Keep all the weight in your legs| resisting the urge to lean into your hands. If this is too intense for your thigh muscle to hold (it’s an intense move!)| then rest one or both hands on the floor.
- Breathe deeply in this low lunge for five breaths.
| Beginner’s Sage
- From Burning Low Lunge| release the left hand to the top of the mat.
- Step your right foot back| stacking the legs and heels| balancing on the outside edge of the left foot.
- Extend your right arm above you| keeping the core strong for five breaths.
| Quarter Dog
- From Beginner’s Sage| lower both forearms to the mat.
- Either relax your head between your arms or gaze between the hands.
- Hold Quarter Dog for five breaths.
| Extended Locust
- From Quarter Dog lower your belly onto the mat.
- Extend the arms and legs| lifting your feet and hands as high as you can| breathing deeply for five breaths.
| Up Dog
- From Extended Locust| release the palms to the mat directly underneath the shoulders.
- Press into the palms to lift the chest and legs off the mat| scooping the chest forward| balancing on the hands and the tops of the feet.
- Gaze up toward the ceiling| keeping the thighs strong and the shoulders relaxed.
- Hold like this for five deep breaths.
| Intense East
- From Up Dog| lift the hips| and come into Down Dog.
- Step or hop the feet forward| and sit down extending both legs out in front of you.
- With big toes touching| place your hands six to eight inches behind you so your fingertips are pointing toward your hips.
- As you inhale| press into your hands and feet| lifting your hips as high as you can so your spine is in a long line. Lower your head behind you| pressing into the outside edges of your feet to engage your inner thighs.
- Hold Intense East for five deep breaths.
| Half Wheel
- From Intense East| exhale to lie on your back.
- Bend your knees| and place your feet flat on the floor. Walk your heels as close as you can to your tush| and turn your heels out slightly| so the outside edges of your feet are parallel with the outside edges of your mat.
- Lift your hips up| and place your hands on either side of your lower back. Rock your weight from side to side| so you can pull your shoulder blades closer together.
- Stay here for five deep breaths| actively pressing your feet into the floor to lift your hips up and increase the stretch in your torso and neck.
| Wide Boat
- From Half Wheel| lower your back to the mat.
- Kick your feet overhead and use the momentum to rock yourself up to balance on the butt with the legs out wide. Extend the arms in front of you.
- Keep lifting through the chest| holding for five breaths.
| Standing Forward Bend
- From Wide Boat| bend the knees and release the feet to the mat.
- Bring one hand behind you and push into the floor to help rock your weight into your feet. Straighten the legs and fold the torso over the thighs.
- With the feet hip-distance apart| hold the big toes with the first two fingers and thumbs of each hand. Pull the elbows out wide. If you can’t reach the toes| hold opposite elbows.
- Actively draw the shoulders away from the ears| using the abs to draw the torso closer to the legs rather than using your upper body strength.
- Stay like this for five deep breaths| nodding the head up and down and side to side to release the neck.
| Low Squat
- From Standing Forward Bend| release hold of the big toes| bend the knees| and squat down deeply so the thighs are parallel with the floor.
- Extend the arms in front of you to help you stay balanced.
- Breathe deeply for five breaths.
- If this is your first side| come to stand and start the sequence from the beginning| repeating through on the left side. If this is your second side| move on to the last pose below| Savasana (yay!).
- Lie on your back| and close your eyes. In order to relax and open your body fully| extend your arms a few inches away from the body| with your palms facing up.
- Bring about 15 to 20 inches between your feet| allowing your feet to fall open with your toes pointing out. Actively shrug your shoulders and shoulder blades down toward your hips. Lengthen through your spine as much as possible| and try to press the small of your back into the floor.
- After you’ve found a comfortable position| enjoy the stillness for five to 10 minutes.