30-Minute Total-Body-Toning Yoga Sequence
If doing more yoga is a goal of yours, but you're a little nervous to take a class, this sequence is designed with you in mind. Dedicated to toning every part of your body, these basic poses may look simple, but they offer an amazing and effective burn, especially in your legs, tush, and arms.
Unroll your mat and complete two Sun Salutation A's and two Sun Salutation B's to warm up. This should take about eight to 10 minutes; take your time moving slowly and holding Down Dog for five full breaths. Then move on to this 20-pose sequence, following through on the right side, then on the left, and end in a well-deserved Savasana. Within 30 minutes you'll feel strong, open, and calm.
- Begin standing at the front of your mat with feet together.
- As you inhale, bend the knees and squat down, raising the arms into the air.
- Exhale to cross your left elbow over to your outer right 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 left hip back slightly, making sure both knees are parallel.
- Stay in Side Fierce for five breaths.
Rotated Side Angle Prayer
- From Side Fierce, keep your arms and torso where they are as you carefully step the left leg back into a lunge position.
- Continue to press your palms together firmly, pushing into your bottom arm to lengthen the spine and increase the twist.
- Gaze over your right shoulder, breathing for five full breaths.
Downward Facing Dog
- From Rotated Side Angle Prayer, release the twist and bring the palms to the floor.
- Step the right leg back coming into plank position.
- Now you're ready to do a vinyasa. Exhale to bend the elbows behind you, lowering the body until your elbows are at 90 degrees, called Chaturanga.
- Inhale as you swoop the chest forward coming into Upward Facing Dog, resting on the feet, and exhale to lift the hips coming into the upside-down V-shape shown above known as Down Dog.
- Try to keep equal weight in the hands and feet as you breathe deeply, enjoying this pose for five breaths.
- 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.
- From Three-Legged Dog, shift your weight forward, bringing your shoulders over the wrists, as you bend the right knee into the chest.
- Hold here in Knee-Up Plank for five breaths.
Arching Three-Legged Dog
- From Knee-Up Plank, shift your weight back, raising the right leg into the air.
- Actively bend the right knee, 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.
- Stay here for five breaths, keeping the core strong.
- From Arching Three-Legged Dog, step the right foot forward between the hands and lift the torso up.
- Open the hips, arms, and chest to the left side of your mat, gazing over the right fingertips.
- Hold here with the right thigh parallel to the floor for five breaths.
- From Warrior 2, straighten the right leg, and turn the toes so both heels are pointing in (photo above shows the front view of the pose).
- Bend your knees coming into a wide squat until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Your knees should be directly over your ankles, so adjust your feet if you need to.
- Lift your arms up, bending your elbows so they are at 90-degree angles, opening the palms away from you.
- Hold here for five deep breaths.
- From Goddess, straighten your legs, and step your right foot to the front of your mat so the feet are together.
- Shift weight into your right foot, and extend your arms overhead. As you lift your left leg behind you, lower your chest so your torso and left leg are parallel to the floor.
- Draw your belly in to protect your lower back. If your lower back hurts, place your hands on your hips.
- Balance in Warrior 3 for five deep breaths.
Burning Low Lunge
- From Warrior 3, release the left foot back, coming into Warrior 2 position. 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 the left hand to the top of the mat.
- Step your right foot back, stacking the legs and heels, balancing on the outside edge of the left foot.
- Extend your right arm above you, keeping the core strong for five breaths.
- From Beginner's Sage, lower both forearms to the mat.
- Either relax your head between your arms or gaze between the hands.
- Hold Quarter Dog for five breaths.
- From Quarter Dog 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.
- From Extended Locust, release the palms to the mat directly underneath the shoulders.
- Press into the palms to lift the chest and legs off the mat, scooping the chest forward, balancing on the hands and the tops of the feet.
- Gaze up toward the ceiling, keeping the thighs strong and the shoulders relaxed.
- Hold like this for five deep breaths.
- From Up Dog, lift the hips, and come into Down Dog.
- Step or hop the feet forward, and 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, 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.
- From Half Wheel, lower your back to the mat.
- Kick your feet overhead and use the momentum to rock yourself up to balance on the butt with the legs out wide. Extend the arms in front of you.
- Keep lifting through the chest, holding for five breaths.
Standing Forward Bend
- From Wide Boat, bend the knees and release the feet to the mat.
- Bring one hand behind you and push into the floor to help rock your weight into your feet. Straighten the legs and fold the torso over the thighs.
- With the feet hip-distance apart, hold the big toes with the first two fingers and thumbs of each hand. Pull the elbows out wide. If you can't reach the toes, hold opposite elbows.
- Actively draw the shoulders away from the ears, using the abs to draw the torso closer to the legs rather than using your upper body strength.
- Stay like this for five deep breaths, nodding the head up and down and side to side to release the neck.
- From Standing Forward Bend, release hold of the big toes, bend the knees, and squat down deeply so the thighs are parallel with the floor.
- Extend the arms in front of you to help you stay balanced.
- Breathe deeply for five breaths.
- If this is your first side, come to stand and start the sequence from the beginning, repeating through on the left side. If this is your second side, move on to the last pose below, Savasana (yay!).
- 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.