Long & Lean Full-Body Yoga Sequence
Try these basic yoga poses to stretch and strengthen all over.
No matter how experienced a yogi you are, sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics. It can feel great to slow it down with a more simple all-over yoga flow designed to work your muscles while lengthening them. By the end of the workout, you’ll feel relaxed, rejuvenated, and stretched out all over.
The yoga sequence below is perfect for stretching tight muscles while working your arms and core in surprising new ways, and it’s designed tp help you get long and lean. Move through the entire sequence on the right side, and then repeat on the left.
By Jenny Sugar
Downward Facing Dog
Come onto the hands and knees with your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into the classic 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. Breathe deeply for five breaths.
From Down Dog, inhale to step your right foot forward between your hands. Turn your left heel in, press into your feet, and lift your torso up. Raise your arms up, and press your palms together. Draw your shoulder blades down toward your hips, and gaze up toward your hands. Stay here for five breaths.
Rotated Side Angle Prayer
Hold your legs in Warrior 1 position, and on an exhale, cross your left elbow over your right thigh.
Press your palms together firmly, and push into your bottom arm to lengthen the spine and increase the twist. Gaze over your right shoulder, breathing for five full breaths.
From Rotated Side Angle Prayer, inhale to lift the torso up. With an exhale, gently arch back and lower your left hand down, resting it on the back of your left leg. Raise your right arm overhead, feeling the stretch through the right side of your body. Continue to lower your hips, pressing your front knee forward so it’s directly over your right ankle. Remain here for five complete breaths.
From Reverse Warrior, inhale to lift your torso, and tip forward. Plant your right palm about a foot in front of your right toes. Straighten your right leg, and lift your left leg in the air. Distribute your weight evenly between your right hand and foot. Lift your left arm up, and gaze toward your left hand. Hold for five breaths.
Bound Extended Side Angle
From Half Moon, bend your front knee, and release your left foot back into Warrior 1 position. Lower your right shoulder as low as you can beside your right inner thigh, and reach your right arm underneath your hamstring. Reach your left arm around your lower back, and bind, holding your left wrist with your right hand. If this is difficult, then hold onto a strap or towel. Draw your upper shoulder back as far as you can, and gaze into the left corners of your eyes. Try to stack your shoulders and lengthen through your spine as you draw your belly in. Stay here for five breaths.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend C
From Bound Extended Side Angle, unclasp your hands, straighten your right leg, and inhale to stand up.
Exhale to adjust both feet, so your toes are pointing in. Inhale to bring your hands behind you, clasping your fingers together in a double fist, heels of your palms pressing together firmly. As you exhale, fold forward with straight legs and a long spine. Keep your weight shifted forward in your toes as you enjoy this stretch for five breaths.
From Wide-Legged Forward Bend C, exhale to release your hands to the floor. Inhale to bend your right knee, and turn your torso to face it. Rest your hands at the front of your mat, and exhale as you lower your right knee toward the floor, resting on the outside edge of your right foot. Gaze up toward the ceiling to increase the stretch, holding for five breaths.
From Open Lizard, inhale to draw your right heel in toward your left hip, resting on the outside of your right thigh. Exhale to lower your forearms to the floor. Stay here, or flatten your torso on your right shin for a deeper stretch. Breath deeply for five breaths.
Seated Spinal Twist
From Pigeon, sit up and swing your back leg forward. Bend your left knee, and place your left heel as close to your right sit bone as you can. Cross your right foot over your left knee, and plant it on the floor, so your outer right ankle is next to your left knee. Reach your right arm behind you, and place your palm on the floor. Cross your left elbow over your outer right thigh to gently increase the twist. Gaze behind you and over your right shoulder, staying here for five breaths.
From Seated Spinal Twist, inhale to bring your torso back to center. 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. Gently lower your bum back to the ground, and hug your knees into your chest. Work your way back to Down Dog, and repeat this sequence on your left side before coming into 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 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.
All images courtesy of Louisa Larson Photography.