If you’re looking to up the intensity in your yoga practice, look no further than the poses below. This 8-minute muscle-burning yoga sequence targets all of your muscle groups, including the arms, core, and legs, and focuses on building strength and getting toned fast. Try these poses out and be prepared to be sore tomorrow!
Stand with your feet together. Inhale to bend your knees and lower your hips as you raise your arms overhead, coming into Fierce Pose. Exhale to cross your right elbow over to your outer left 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 hip back slightly, making sure both knees are parallel. Stay for five breaths (about 30 seconds) in Side Fierce, then inhale as you press into your feet and lift your torso, rising back into Fierce pose. Exhale to cross your left elbow over your right outer knee, holding for another five breaths on this side. Rise back up to stand.
Step open to the right, opening your legs about three feet apart. Turn your heels in. Bend your knees coming into a wide squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Your knees should be directly over your ankles, so adjust your feet if you need to. When you’re ready, lift your arms up, bending your elbows so they are at 90-degree angles, and open your palms away from you. Hold here for five deep breaths. Then step back to the front of the mat.
Knee to Tricep Plank
Fold forward, place the palms on the mat, and take a vinyasa coming into Down Dog. Inhale as you shift your shoulders over the wrists, coming into plank position with straight arms and legs. Bend your right knee and draw it forward as you bend your right elbow slightly, resting your right knee on your tricep. Keep the core engaged as you hold for five breaths. Step your right leg back and repeat with the left knee bent for another five. Release back to Down Dog.
From Down Dog, lower onto your forearms and walk your feet out. Your body should be in one straight line with your shoulders directly above your elbows. Hold Dolphin Plank for five breaths. Press back to Down Dog.
Burning Low Lunge
From Down Dog, step your right foot all the way forward between your hands, coming into a low lunge. 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 a killer move!), rest one or both hands on the floor. Breathe deeply in this Burning Low Lunge for five breaths. Step back to Down Dog and repeat on the left side for another five deep breaths. Come back to Downward Facing Dog.
From Downward Facing Dog, step both feet together so your big toes are touching. Move your right hand over to the left so it’s at the top center of your mat. Roll over to your right side and plant your right heel down, balancing on the outside edge of your right flexed foot. Reach your left arm straight above you or extend it over your ear. Stay here in Beginner’s Sage (Side Plank) for five deep breaths, trying to keep your core strong and the pose steady. Repeat this pose on the left side, then come back to Down Dog.
From Downward Dog, shift weight forward, so your shoulders are directly over your wrists, coming into a plank position. Bend your elbows behind you, brushing your arms against the sides of your body as you lower down. Hold Four-Limbed Staff with your body in one straight line, making sure your elbows are at 90-degree angles. Lift your right leg a few inches off the floor, pointing your toes, and hold for five breaths. Release back to Down Dog, then come back to plank. Lower into Chaturanga and lift the left foot off the floor for another five breaths. Release your left foot to the floor, inhale into Upward Facing Dog, and exhale into Downward Facing Dog.
From Down Dog, move into plank, then lower your belly onto the mat with your legs together. Extend your arms on the ground in front of you, shoulder-width distance apart. As you inhale, lift your legs, head, and upper body off the floor, extending the hands away from the feet. As you breathe, try to relax your shoulders and the glutes. Extend the crown of your head away from your toes, lengthening as much as you can through your spine. Stay in Extended Locust for five breaths, and then release back to the mat.
From Extended Locust, come to sit on your tush with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your knees into the chest, finding balance on the sitting bones with the spine long. Straighten your legs as much as you can without rounding the spine. If your back starts to hunch, bend the knees so the shins are parallel with the floor. Your legs don’t need to be straight — the action of keeping your spine long and drawing your belly in is what works your abs here. Hold for five complete breaths with the chest lifted.
Sit with your legs extended in front of you, toes touching. Place your palms behind your hips about six to eight inches away, with your fingers pointing toward your toes. As you inhale, press into your hands and feet firmly, lifting your hips into the air. Lift them as high as you can so your spine is in a long line. Slowly release your head back, looking behind you and opening through your throat. Stay here for five deep breaths, then lower your hips back to the floor.
Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the ground (heels as close as possible to your bum). Bend your elbows and place your palms flat on the ground above your shoulders, with your fingertips facing your feet. Inhale, press into your palms, and lift your head, shoulders, and hips off the ground, holding Wheel Pose for five deep breaths. Release the lower back by hugging the knees into the chest.