A Challenging Yoga Sequence For a Deep Ab and Thigh Burn
Yoga doesn’t mess around. It may seem all about deep breaths and om-ing, but trust me u2014 if you do the right poses, in the right order, you’ll feel an intense, deep burn that lasts for days, letting you know your body is changing and getting stronger. After warming up with a few Sun Salutations or your regular cardio workout, hop on your mat and do this 17-pose sequence on the right side, and then repeat on the left.
| Down Dog Tipover
- Begin in Downward Facing Dog with equal weight on the hands and feet.
- Lower the top of the head all the way to the floor.
- Bring the arms behind you and interlace the fingers, pressing the heels of the palms together in a double fist if you can. Pull the hands toward the mat to increase the stretch, holding for five breaths.
- Release the arms, and come back into Down Dog.
| 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.
| Arching Three-Legged Dog
- From Three-Legged Dog, bend the right knee. Actively squeeze your right heel in toward your hip, lifting the knee high.
- 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 (if your spine is extremely flexible, your foot and head will touch).
- Stay here for five breaths, keeping the core strong.
| Extended Tabletop
- From Arching Three-Legged Dog, slowly lower your right leg to the floor behind you as you simultaneously raise your right arm into the air. You’re essentially rotating your body 180 degrees so your belly is pointing up toward the ceiling.
- Readjust your feet if you need to so they are parallel and slightly wider than hips-width distance apart. Press firmly into your feet to lift your hips high, engaging your glutes and hamstrings, and extend your right arm over your face.
- Hold here for five complete breaths, gazing at your extended hand or up toward the ceiling.
| Sage Tree
- From Extended Tabletop, lift your right leg back into the air. Bend your right knee, and use your right hand to pull your right heel as high up on your inner thigh as possible, so it’s in Tree position.
- Once you’re stable, reach your right arm up above you, and if you can, gaze up at your palm.
- Stay here in Sage Tree for five deep breaths, trying to keep your core strong and the pose steady.
| Extended Side Angle
- From Sage Tree, exhale as you step your right foot forward into a lunge position. Turn your left heel down so your foot is flat, and the toes are pointing away from you.
- Plant your right hand on the floor beside your right foot, and raise your left arm over your ear.
- Hold Extended Side Angle for five breaths.
| Burning Low Lunge
- From Extended Side Angle, 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.
- From Burning Low Lunge, release your left palm to the mat in Down Dog position. Hold onto your right big toe with the first two fingers and thumb of your right hand.
- Inhale to come up onto the ball of the back foot, and roll open to the left, raising your right leg into the air and planting your left heel on the mat.
- Straighten both legs if you can or keep the top knee bent, gazing at your right hand while holding Sage for five deep breaths.
| One-Legged Four-Limbed Staff
- From Sage, keep the right leg lifted, and as you exhale, release your right hand to the mat and bend your elbows behind you, slowly lowering into Four-Limbed Staff.
- Keep your abs engaged and your body in one straight line with the right leg lifted. If this is too difficult, rest the right knee on the floor.
- Hold here for five complete breaths.
| Extended Locust
- From One-Legged Four-Limbed Staff, 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.
| Chest-Opening Bow
- From Extended Locust, bend the knees and reach your hands back to hold the inside of your ankles. If this is too difficult, hold the outside of the ankles instead.
- Actively press the feet up and away from your torso to feel a deep opening in the chest and shoulders.
- Gaze forward in this variation of Bow pose for five breaths.
- From Chest-Opening Bow, lower the torso to the mat. Take a vinyasa by placing the hands on the mat underneath the shoulders. Tuck the toes and lift up into Four-Limbed Staff (Chaturanga). Inhale to Upward Facing dog, and exhale to Downward Facing Dog.
- Gaze forward, bend the knees, and hop off the balls of the feet, jumping the knees between the hands, landing softly on the shins.
- Lift the torso, coming to stand on the shins, with the knees hips-width distance apart.
- Reach your right hand back toward your right heel, and then your left toward your left heel. Your hands are there for balancing support, so don’t lean all your weight into them. Shift weight forward into your knees to increase the stretch in your belly and chest.
- Lower your head behind you, and stay here for five breaths.
| One-Legged Camel
- From Camel, stay arching back as you extend the right leg out to the side.
- Reach the right arm overhead, pressing the hips forward to increase the stretch.
- Hold like this for five breaths.
| Intense East
- From One-Legged Camel, 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.
- From Intense East, lower your hips to the floor. Pick up both legs, keeping them straight if you can, or bend the knees if it bothers your lower back. Extend the arms along the outside of the knees.
- Hold the core strong for five breaths.
| Wide Boat
- From Boat, separate the legs into a straddle position, extending the arms in front of you.
- Keep lifting through the chest, holding for five breaths.
- From Wide Boat, release the legs to the floor and come into a squat position.
- Place your hands shoulder-width distance apart on the mat. Spread your fingers as wide as you can, creating a strong, stable base.
- Straighten your legs slightly, placing your knees as high up onto your triceps (back of your arms) as possible. Slowly shift weight into your palms and lift your feet off the floor. Pressing your feet together and squeezing your knees inward will help you feel more stable and give you a sense of lightness.
- Stay in Crow pose for five breaths, gazing at the floor in front of you.
- Hop your feet behind you, working your way back to Downward Facing Dog. Repeat these 17 poses on the left side.