Yoga is known for its relaxing and mind-calming properties, but it can also be a great and challenging workout that will tone your muscles, strengthen your core, and definitely make you break a sweat.
There are plenty of different yoga styles you can try out these days, but they’re all based on two main aspects: the dynamic and the static. Together, they make an intense power yoga class with flowy, vinyasa elements. And that’s going to take your experience to a whole new level. Here are some of our favorite yoga moves to make your practice more powerful.
This dynamic movement will challenge your core muscles and have your abs burn with every repetition. And just because it’s called knee-to-nose, you don’t necessarily have to connect your knee to your nose, it’s the general goal you’re aiming towards but the movement stays the same.
Start in a downward-facing dog, legs extended, spine straight, and you’re pushing your entire body away from the floor by digging your palms into the floor and reaching back with your heels. On your inhale, lift your right leg up and on your exhale, bend your knee and bring it in towards your nose, curling your spine and trying to get the knee up as high as possible.
Inhale your leg back up and this time, once you bring your knee forward, try to touch your right triceps, still keeping the knee as high as possible. Inhale back up and this time when you bring it forward, try to connect your knee to your left triceps, adding a twist so your obliques get some work too. Inhale back up and exhale to down dog. Repeat on the other side.
Another dynamic pose that can be accessed from down dog, wild thing is a wonderful and challenging backbend that you can easily modify to fit your body’s flexibility.
Start in a down dog, making sure your foundation is solid. Inhale your right leg back and on your exhale, drop the leg behind you, staying high on the ball of your foot. Push the toes into the ground and use it as leverage to lift your hips up as high as your body allows. Your left foot is on the outside edge and your right arm is reaching towards the sky or over your head, adding into the backbend and opening your heart. Let your head fall back naturally and feel the stretch all the way from your foot to your neck.
Stay here for a few inhales and exhales, feeling the stretch. On your last exhale, slowly bring your right hand back to the floor and swivel your hips around. Inhale your right leg back up to square your hips and lower back to downward dog. Repeat with the other leg.
You might notice that one side of your body is more open than the other and that’s ok, just make sure to listen to your body and don’t go over your limits.
Best yoga strap to deepen your stretch.
Lunges in yoga are great for stretching the muscles in your legs, but they can also be a powerful tool for helping you build strength and balance.
Start in a low lunge position, your front foot in between your palms, your back leg extended and your heel high up. Push the ground away from you through your palms and the ball of the back foot, and extend your spine. Activate your core muscles and feel the space in between your shoulder blades expand. Set up a good foundation and on your next inhale, lift your hands off the floor, dig your front heel into the floor, and in a swiping motion, bring your arms over your head.
You can leave them separated and parallel, facing each other, or you can clasp your palms together and intensify the stretch in your shoulders. Send your shoulders away from your ears to create space for your neck and make sure your back leg is active and extended. With every inhale, try to grow a bit taller and stretch your spine, and with every exhale try to sit a bit lower into your lunge. Pay attention to your core and don’t allow it to soften up, even if your legs start to shake.
Stay for at least three long breath cycles and on your last exhale, bring your hands back down to the floor so you’re in your low lunge again. Step with your front leg back to meet the other and switch legs.
A true balance challenge, this dynamic move will work your entire body, from your standing foot to the edges of your fingertips.
Start in a Warrior 1, hips facing forward, front leg bent to 90 degrees, and your arms stretched over your head. Your back foot is at a 45-degree angle and it’s firmly pressed into the ground, even the outer edge. Brace your core, and on your inhale, lift your back leg off the floor, slightly bend your front knee, and hinge at the hips, bringing your torso parallel to the floor.
You can bring your arms by your sides, clasp them in front of your heart, or further challenge yourself and bring them over your head, stretching from your toes to your fingertips. Focus on your hips and make sure they’re aligned and that the hip of your lifted leg isn’t opening up. Your standing leg is straight and strong, knee cap lifted, and quadriceps activated.
Find a focal point to look at and keep your core tight, working on your balance every inhale and exhale. Stay for at least three to five breath cycles and on your last exhale, bend the front leg and slowly place the back leg down. Inhale your arms back to warrior 1 and step forward to bring both feet together. Reset and switch legs.
A great exercise that will work on your upper body strength is a dynamic transition from high to low plank and back. Also called chaturanga push-ups, this exercise helps you build strong shoulders and chest so you can perform all other exercises in a much better and more stable way.
Start in a high push-up position, hands right under shoulders and heels elevated, pushing through the balls of your feet. Firmly press your palms into the floor and slightly curve your upper body so you separate your shoulder blades. This protects your low back from sinking.
Ensure your hips are neutral and avoid piking or dropping them low. Activate your core and on your inhale, move the body forward and slowly drop down to a low push-up position, bending your elbows and keeping them close to your body.
On your exhale, push back up, extending your arms, and find yourself in a high push-up again. On your next inhale repeat the process. Do five to eight push-ups if you can and go slow, really focusing on control rather than speed.
Add these powerful yoga moves to your next workout and feel your muscles burn and get stronger. If you’re new to yoga and unfamiliar with some of these moves, check out our step-by-step guide to all the basic yoga moves.