Sometimes core-focused parts of a yoga class feel more like a work out at the gym (which I never loved) than something that feels in place during a vinyasa practice. I know the core work helps strengthen our bodies to relieve us of low back pain, improves posture, and provides the muscle foundation for many other asanas, but it doesn’t mean it’ll ever be my favorite. Because I teach power yoga (“more panting, less chanting”) core work is pretty standard and I’m workshopping new ways of integrating it into a class. This weekend, we moved abs to the start of practice to wake up the muscles and put in the work, before bringing intention, breath and a flow in.
- Roll to your back, take a reverse tabletop. Press hands towards the ceiling, rounding a cat spine into the mat. Hold this navel-to-spine connection for 10 breaths.
- Legs straight up, “Charlie Chaplin” style feet (heel touch, toes out, feet flex). Pick shoulders, head and arms off the mat to a hover, hands are by hips with palms down. Inhale-lower one leg half way to the ground, exhale, pick it back up. Careful not to “kick” but to move with engagement. Repeat other side. 5 reps. Repeat the same, only this time, bringing the leg to a hover, a few inches of the ground. 5 reps. Lower both legs half way, hold 5 breaths. Lower both legs to a hover, hold 5 breaths. Hug knees to chest and take a big sigh of relief!
- Supta Badakonasa. Hands rest at top of thighs to encourage knees to relax down. Close eyes. 3 cleansing breaths. Move into your ujayi breath from there.
- Supine Pigeon-right ankle over left thigh, roll right hip away from you. Thread the needle by grabbing for the right hamstring and relax your shoulders onto the mat. [s]
- Cross legs at the thighs, grab shins or pinkie edges of feet, pull knees in and elbows down. [s]
- Knees to chest, rock up and press back to Down Dog.
- Align DD. Bend elbows, rotate triceps to they wrap back, spread fingers out and hug hands and forearms towards one another. Straighten arms. Lift hips and heels, press thighs backward, then let heels descend down.
- Plank pose, hold 5 breaths. Lower to belly. Cobra, DD.
- Walk hand to back of mat. FF with ragdoll arms or interlace fingers and stretch arms up over head (to get into upper back).
- Release, roll to stand.
- Walk to top of mat.
Sun Salutes, Warrior and Balancing
- Sun As x 4
- DD, DDS, bend knee, open hip, roll ankle, DDS, flex foot and turn toes to right, reach leg to right, K2N, DDS, W1, [v][s]
- Chair [v]
- DD, DDS, bend knee, open hip, DDS, K2N, W1, [v][s]
- Chair, lower slooooooowwwwlllllyyyyyyy to Boat. Hold boat 5 breaths, lower to a hover (Low Boat) hold 5 breaths, roll to back, knees to chest, rock up and press to DD.
- DDS, K2N, W1 [v][s]
- Chair Twist, release to a restorative FF
- Roll up, Tadasana, Tree, W3, HL, HLT, SP, Wild Thing, W2, RW, ESA, Triangle, Goddess, WLFF, pivot to LL, [v][s]
More Hips, Back and Closing
- K2N W3, hold last one, step to Lizard Lunge. Drop back knee and untuck back toes. Twist with a quad stretch option. Lizard (on forearms if able, long hold). Pivot to back of mat lunge, adjust into Half Pigeon (long hold). DDS, Wild Thing, DD. [s] (this section is a mandala–the end of the second side will take you back to the front of your mat).
- Lower over the count of 10
- Locust x 2, Bow x 1
- Roll to back
- Bridge or Wheel
- Plow to Shoulderstand (optional)
- Supine Spinal Twist (long hold) [s]
- [v]=vinyasa of choice
- [s]=repeat sequence on other side
- DD= Downward Facing Dog
- DDS= Downward Facing Dog Split/ 3-Leg Dog
- ESA= Extended Side Angle
- FF= Forward Fold
- HL= High Crescent Lunge
- K2N= Knee to Nose/ Core Plank
- LL= Low Lunge
- RW=Reversed/Radiant Warrior
- SP= Side Plank
- W1= Warrior I
- W2= Warrior II
- W3= Warrior III
- WLFF= Wide Leg Forward Fold