Skip Bikram and Try This Heat-Building Sequence Instead
While plenty of people swear by Bikram yoga| there is also power that comes from building your own internal fire. Move through a fierce twisting sequence with loads of vinyasas (Four-Limbed Staff to Up Dog to Down Dog) that will challenge your body but be well worth all your effort. It’s a great way to use all the strength you’ve built up from following our Better-Body Challenge.
| Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog sets a strong tone for the sequence:
- Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders| and your knees should be underneath your hips.
- Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips| coming into an upside-down V shape called Downward Facing Dog.
- Spread your fingers wide| and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground.
- Relax your head between your arms| and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Hold for five breaths.
| Standing Forward Bend
Standing Forward Bend will help loosen up the back of your body before getting into the more strenuous twisting postures:
- From Downward Facing Dog| move through a vinyasa (Four-Limbed Staff to Up Dog to Down Dog).
- Once you’re in Downward Facing Dog| either step one foot at a time or hop to the front of your mat. Inhale with a flat back| and gaze slightly forward.
- As you exhale| engage your abs to fold forward with a straight back. Tuck your chin in toward your chest| relax your shoulders| and extend the crown of the head toward the floor to create a long spine. Shift your weight forward onto your toes| straightening the legs as much as possible. Place your hands on the ground| fingertips lining up with the toes.
- Hold here for five breaths.
| Warrior 3
Warrior 3 will help bring the fire to your core so you can power through the rest of the practice with ease:
- From Standing Forward Bend| move through a vinyasa (Four-Limbed Staff to Up Dog to Down Dog).
- Once you’re in Downward Facing Dog| step your right foot forward for a brief Warrior 1.
- With your right knee forward| lower your torso and lift your left leg| bringing your body parallel with the ground.
- Extend your hands out in front of you| pressing your palms together firmly. If it bothers your shoulders to press your hands together| separate your arms so they’re shoulder width apart. If extending your arms creates pain or pressure in your lower back| rest your hands on your hips.
- Engage your abs| holding this position for five deep breaths. Then lower your left leg and release your hands to the mat| coming into Downward Dog.
- Move through a vinyasa (Four-Limbed Staff to Up Dog to Down Dog) before repeating Warrior 3 on the left side.
| Open Triangle
An active Open Triangle with proper alignment is some of the best yoga medicine you can offer your body:
- From Warrior 3 on your left side| move through another vinyasa (Four-Limbed Staff to Up Dog to Down Dog).
- Once you’re in Downward Facing Dog| step your left foot forward between your hands| and rise up into Warrior 1. Open your hips| arms| and chest into Warrior 2.
- Straighten your left leg| and turn your right toes slightly to the left| making a 45-degree angle. Keep both legs straight as you reach your left hand straight out over your left leg. Lower your left hand| resting it on your left shin or a block| or place your palm flat on the floor. Extend your right arm straight up| and gaze at your left fingertips.
- Stay like this for five deep breaths. Then lift your torso up| drop your hands to the top of your mat| and move through another vinyasa (Four-Limbed Staff to Up Dog to Down Dog) before repeating this pose on the other side.
| Extended Side Angle
Extended Side Angle opens up your hips and quads| while stretching the sides of your torso:
- Once you’ve moved through both sides of Open Triangle| move through a vinyasa (Four-Limbed Staff to Up Dog to Down Dog).
- From Down Dog| step your right foot forward between your hands| and rise up into Warrior 1. Open your hips| arms| and chest into Warrior 2.
- Place your right hand on the ground behind your right foot (on the little toe side). Extend your left arm straight up| turning your palm down so your thumb is pointing behind you.
- Stay here for five breaths. Then move through a vinyasa (Four-Limbed Staff to Up Dog to Down Dog) before repeating this pose on the other side.
| Rotated Side Angle
All the muscles along your spine get a big| deep twist in Rotated Side Angle:
- After completing Extended Side Angle on both sides| move through a vinyasa (Four-Limbed Staff to Up Dog to Down Dog).
- Once you’re in Down Dog| step your right foot forward between your hands. Lift your arms up and press your palms together| coming into Warrior 1.
- Now lower your elbows toward your chest| and rotate your torso to the right| crossing your left elbow over your right thigh. Actively press your left triceps into your right quad to lift your chest as high as you can. Gaze over your right shoulder| and hold for five breaths.
- Release your hands to the mat| step your right foot back| and come back into Down Dog. Then repeat this pose on the left side.
Chair Pose looks simple| but after those deep twists| it’s sure to bring the heat on heavy:
- From Rotated Side Angle| drop your hands for Downward Dog. Then| hop or step to the top of your mat| and come to a standing position.
- Once you’re ready| bend your knees and lower your hips as you raise your arms overhead.
- Focus on sitting back onto your heels. Tuck your tailbone in and engage your abs| keeping your spine straight. Relax the shoulders as you gaze up toward the ceiling. Stay like this for five breaths.
The twisted arms in Eagle open up tight| stressed shoulders| while the bottom of your body gets its own deep twist:
- From Chair Pose| stand up tall for a few moments in Mountain Pose.
- Shift weight onto your left foot| and lift your right knee up toward your chest. Cross your right knee in front of your left knee| and bend both knees slightly| trying to wrap your right toes around the back of your left calf.
- Cross your left elbow over your right elbow. Work on bringing your left fingertips toward the base of your right palm| and then lift your elbows straight up toward the ceiling.
- Stay here for five breaths| release| and then do the other side.
| Side Fierce
Twisting the torso to one side increases flexibility in your spine| but you’ll be bringing the fire to your legs| as well| in Side Fierce:
- From Eagle Pose| untwist your arms and come back into Chair Pose.
- On your exhale| 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 right left back slightly| making sure both knees are parallel.
- If you feel stable in this pose| take a more advanced variation. Place your left palm on the ground| and let your right arm float up toward the ceiling| with your palm facing forward.
- Stay for five breaths. Then inhale as you press into your feet and lift your torso| rising back into Fierce pose. If you can| refrain from straightening your legs to keep your quads and glutes engaged.
- Exhale to cross your right elbow over your left outer knee| holding for another five breaths on this side.
| Seated Spinal Twist
Seated Spinal Twist will help you cool off and lengthen your spine as you focus on deep breaths:
- From Side Fierce| move through your final vinyasa (Four-Limbed Staff to Up Dog to Down Dog).
- From Down Dog| walk or jump through to a seated position on your mat with your legs extended straight out in front of you.
- Bend your left knee| and place your left heel as close to your right sit bone as you can. Then bend your right knee and cross your right foot over your left knee. Plant it on the floor so your right ankle is next to your left knee.
- Reach your right arm behind you| and place your palm on the floor. Then bend your left elbow| and cross it over the outer side of your right knee. Keep your elbow bent| or if you can| hold onto your right toes.
- Keep your right hand on the floor for stability| and gaze back over your right shoulder. Continue pressing your left arm into your right knee| and use each inhale to lengthen the spine and each exhale to rotate further to the right.
- Stay here for five or more breaths. Then release the twist| straighten your legs out in front of you| and do this pose with your left knee pointing up.
After all the hard work you’ve put in| your body deserves a sweet Savasana:
- 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 the palms facing up. Put about 15 to 20 inches between your heels| allowing your feet to fall open with the toes pointing out. Actively shrug your shoulder blades down toward your hips. Lengthen through the spine as much as possible| relaxing your lower back toward the floor.
- After you’ve found a comfortable position| stay here for as long as you want| around 10 minutes or more| if your schedule allows for it. If you’re short on time| remain in Savasana at least until your heart rate slows down and your breath returns to its natural soothing rhythm.