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