Feeling Chilly? Do This Quickie Beginner Yoga Sequence
For an active yoga practice that brings the heat, this step-by-step sequence will fit the bill for a beginner or more seasoned yoga-lover. It's the perfect combination of postures to loosen up your body and kick off the day. Perform the entire sequence on your right side before moving on to the left. End with a sweet Savasana, and get ready to take on the day.
Downward Facing Dog
Start off the sequence with deep, full breaths in Downward Facing Dog:
- Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees should be underneath your hips.
- Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into an 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. Hold for five breaths.
- Traditionally this pose is done during Sun Salutation A, so you can also come into it from Upward Facing Dog.
Not sure you're doing it correctly? Here's what not to do in Downward Facing Dog.
Three-Legged Dog stretches your hips and preps your legs for all their hard work to follow:
- Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Step both feet together so your big toes are touching.
- Shift your weight onto your hands and your left foot equally, and raise your right leg into the air. Try to keep your shoulders parallel with the ground, and gaze at your left thigh or up toward your belly to help you stay balanced.
- Stay here for five breaths.
Warrior 1 Pose
Focus on making a right angle with your front leg in Warrior 1:
- From Three-Legged Dog, step your right foot forward between your hands. Turn your left heel in, press into your feet, and lift your torso up.
- Lift your arms up, and press your palms together. Draw your shoulder blades down toward your hips, and gaze up at your hands.
- Stay here for five breaths.
Learn more about correct hip alignment when doing Warrior 1.
Warrior 2 Pose
Roll back your shoulders and engage your arms in Warrior 2:
- After Warrior 1, extend your arms out in T position as you rotate your torso to the left, coming into Warrior 2.
- Ideally your front thigh should be parallel to the ground and your right knee directly over your right ankle. Make sure your shoulders are stacked directly above your pelvis.
- Gaze past your right fingertips, holding for five breaths.
Here are more tips on how to do Warrior 2.
After Warrior 2, it's time to open up and give your side body a big stretch in Reverse Warrior:
- Gently arch your back and rest your left hand on the back of your left leg. Raise your right arm overhead, feeling the stretch through the right side of the body. Make sure you continue to lower your hips and press your front knee forward so it's directly over your right ankle.
- Remain here for five breaths before lifting your torso back upright to Warrior 2.
Check out these details on Reverse Warrior.
Half Moon Pose
The first balancing pose of the sequence will help open your side body and bring the heat:
- From Warrior 2, place your left hand on your left hip and stretch your right arm straight out, creating length through the right side of your body. Shift weight onto your right foot, and lift your left foot up.
- 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.
Find more details on this balancing pose here.
Pigeon Pose is the ultimate hip opener. Stick with it, even if it feels tough:
- After Half Moon Pose, come back to Downward Facing Dog. From Downward Facing Dog, step both feet together and bring your right knee forward between your hands so your outer right leg is resting on the mat.
- If your hips are more open, inch your right foot away from you. Make sure your left hip is always pointing down toward the mat.
- Stay here with your hands resting on your hips or your right leg, or walk your hands out in front of you, allowing your torso to rest over your right knee.
- Hold here, breathing into any areas of tightness and tension for at least 10 breaths. Once you're ready, plant your hands on the floor and push your right leg to the sky for a quick Three-Legged Dog to give your hips a little release. Then come back to Downward Facing Dog.
Bow Pose will help increase flexibility in your strong spine:
- From Downward Facing Dog, bring your knees to the mat and come to lie on your belly. Bend your knees, and hold onto the outside edge of your right ankle and then your left.
- Once you have a firm hold of each ankle, try to keep your toes together, either pointing or flexing your feet. Lift your feet up as high as you can, and shift your weight forward so you're resting on your navel instead of on your pubic bone.
- Hold for five deep breaths, and then slowly release.
If you need more details, check out how to do Bow Pose here.
Side Plank Pose
End on a strong note with Side Plank Pose:
- From Bow Pose, plant your hands on the mat, and push back into Downward Facing Dog. Step both feet together so your big toes are touching. Now move your left hand over to the left about six inches, so it's at the upper center of your mat.
- Step your left foot forward two inches, and plant the sole of your left foot firmly on the mat so your toes are pointing to the right.
- Then roll over to your left side and lift your right hand off the mat, coming into a Side Plank. Lift your right leg up, and stay here balancing. Try to keep your shoulders, spine, and hips in one straight line. If it feels comfortable, look up toward the ceiling.
- Engage your right fingertips to take some pressure off of your wrists. Stay here for at least five deep breaths, trying to keep your core strong and the pose steady.
Try these three tips on building a stronger Side Plank.
After you've finished the sequence on both your right and left side, enjoy Savasana:
- From Side Plank, shift your weight back into Plank with both your hands planted on the ground. Drop your knees to the mat, and slowly shift onto 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 the palms facing up. Put about 15 to 20 inches between your heels, allowing your feet to fall open with the toes pointing out. Actively shrug your shoulder blades down toward your hips. Lengthen through the spine as much as possible, relaxing your lower back toward the floor.
- After you've found a comfortable position, stay here for as long as you want, around 10 minutes or more, if your schedule allows for it. If you're short on time, remain in Savasana at least until your heart rate slows down and your breath returns to its natural soothing rhythm.
Having trouble relaxing? Here are four tips for sinking into Corpse Pose.