Advancing Your Yoga Sequence
You may have been practicing yoga for a while now, and it's become a wonderful part of your routine. You've mastered the basics and feel in a regular rhythm with your yoga workout plan.
So, what's next in your yoga journey? How do you take what you've learned and mastered and advance to the next level of Vinyasa flow or Hatha heaven?
Let's start with some intermediate movements -- these are perfect daily poses to loosen your muscles and ease a busy mind every day. if you're not yet incorporating these into your sequence, give them a try:
10 Intermediate Yoga Poses you could do every day
1. Side Plank (Vasisthasana)
An effective arm and wrist strengthener, the Side Plank takes your standard plank to the next level, as a powerful arm balance.
- Shift onto the outside edge of your foot and stack your other foot on top. Bring your right hand onto your right hip, turn your torso out to the side, and support the weight of your body.
- Straighten your arm and tighten your triceps and press your palm firmly against the floor.
- Align your entire body into one long diagonal line from the heels to the crown.
- Try to stretch your top arm toward the ceiling, parallel to the line of the shoulders. Keep the head in a neutral position or turn it to gaze up at the top hand.
2. Eagle (Garudasana)
A balancing pose that brings strength, flexibility, and endurance. It's an all-over stretch for the upper body, whilst strengthening quadriceps, calves, and lower back muscles.
- Stand tall. Bend your knees slightly, lift one foot and, whilst balancing on your other foot, and cross your thigh over the over. Point your toes toward the floor, press the foot back, and then hook the top of the foot behind the lower calf. Continue to balance on one foot.
- Cross your arms in front of your torso and bend your elbows. Raise your forearms so they are vertical to the floor.
- Press your twisted palms together. Lift your elbows and stretch your fingers toward the ceiling.
3. Half Moon
This pose builds leg and ankle strength as you build stability and extension within its balance.
- Start in a standing position. Bend to one side, pressing your hand and heel firmly into the floor, and straighten your right leg, simultaneously lifting the other leg parallel to the floor.
- Tighten the muscles in the lifted leg and hold it straight.
- Bear most of your weight on your standing leg. Use your lower hand on the floor to support your balance.
4. Half Split (Ardha Hanumanasana)
The half split is a great starting pose before front splits, helping to open the hips and lengthen the hamstrings.
- Start in a lunge with one foot forward and your back knee on the ground. Shift your hips back to stack over your left knee and straighten your front leg to a place where you feel a stretch, but not pain.
- Flex your right toes toward your face so that the sole of your foot is off the mat. Place your hands directly under your shoulders, use blocks if you need.
- Keep your right kneecap pointed directly up, with a small bend behind your knee.
- Press down through your fingertips and engage your core muscles.
- Try to walk your hands toward your feet, bringing your chest towards your front leg. You'll feel the stretch in your quads and hamstrings.
5. Warrior 2 (Virabhadra)
This Warrior variation will help you work on your balance, stamina, and stability. It's a soothing pose to hold and focus your mind.
- Stand tall with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor, palms down.
- Twist your torso and turn one foot out to the side whilst your other foot remains facing forward. Turn your leg outward so that your kneecap is in line with your ankle.
- Bend your front knee slightly over the ankle and strengthening the back leg by pressing the back heel firmly to the floor.
- Turn your head to look out over your front fingers.
6. Warrior 3
A natural next step from a high lunge, this pose strengthens your legs, improves balance, and builds core strength.
- Start in a high lunge position. Lean slightly forward and lay your torso towards your front leg.
- Stretch your arms forward, parallel to the floor, palms facing each other.
- Press your front heel into the floor, straightening the front leg and lifting the back leg at the same time.
- Shift your weight onto your front foot, pressing the heel into the floor, stabilizing your position. The arms, torso, and raised leg should be positioned relatively parallel to the floor.
- Bring your head up slightly and look forward.
7. Reverse Warrior (Viparita Virabhadrasana)
Think of this as a side bend done in a lunge position. It's great for strengthening the legs, opening your sides, and improving spinal mobility and balance.
- Start in Warrior 2 position. Bring your hand down to rest on your back leg. Bring your front arm up towards the ceiling.
- Bring your gaze up to your front fingertips.
- Keep the front knee bent, pressing your feet into the ground. Sink the hips toward the floor and relax the shoulders.
8. Extended side angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
This delicious stretch will help you find length in your side body, from your feet to your hands.
- Stand tall with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, in a high lunge position. Raise your arms parallel to the floor, palms down.Turn one foot in slightly to the right and your other foot out 90 degrees. Turn your leg outward, so that the center of the kneecap is in line with the center of your ankle.
- Bend your front knee over the ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor.
- Extend your arm straight up toward the ceiling, then turn the palm to face toward your head. Feel the stretch as you lengthen the entire side of your body. Turn your head to look up at your lifted hand.
- Press your other palm on the floor just outside of your front foot. Actively push the right knee back against your inner arm.
9. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Camel can be an intense physical movement, but forms a great backbend, stretching out the spine in an oh-so-satisfying way.
- Kneel at the front of the mat, knees hip-width apart with the tops of your feet on the mat. Sit up tall in the spine, tucking your tailbone slightly under you.
- Place your palms supporting your lower back with your hands. Look up and back, slowly leaning backward, lifting your gaze.
- Push your glutes forward and reach for your heels. Feel the stretch in your back and along the front of your thighs as you begin to reach for one heel and then the other.
10. Lord of the Dance (Natarajasana)
This advanced pose increases the flexibility of our spine, extends the chest, and provides a lovely stretch for your legs. It also helps support healthy breathing.
- Stand tall, shift your weight onto one foot, and lift your other heel toward your glutes as you bend the knee. Keep your standing leg straight and strong.
- Try to keep your torso upright. Reach back with your hand and grasp the outside of your back foot. Squeeze your core or stability.
- Begin to lift your back foot up and back, away from your torso. Feel the stretch as you pull the leg away. If comfortable, stretch one arm forward, parallel to the floor.
Sometimes, all you need is a little inspiration. If you're working from home regularly, you may find yourself seated for long hours or regularly needing a break from your computer screen, One of our Yoga Guides, Lex has taken the time to create this list of mixed ability yoga poses that you can do whilst working from home to help keep you focused, assured and in-tune with your overlapping work/life balance.
Mix up your 7-day Yoga Plan
We all need a way to destress each day -- whether it's a morning flow to warm up the body and help kickstart your day or a relaxing evening routine to help relax your posture and unwind from the day. Having a regular yoga practice in your routine can make all the difference in your wellbeing.
You could also look at adapting your regular routine and switch up your sequence once or twice a week for something a little more advanced -- slowly building them more into your routine at a pace that's comfortable for you.
Ultimately, repetition is the best way to progress. Simply starting and continuing the habit will help you advance your yoga skills better than anything else. A daily routine, whether it be 5 minutes, 30 minutes or longer, is often the best method.
Every time you progress in your yoga, you're learning new movements and new sequences, which means:
- Your body is getting stronger
- Your balance is improving
- Your flexibility is increasing
- Your mind is calming
- Your heart is opening
Advanced and Intermediate Yoga Flows - Listen to Your body
As with any yoga practice, it's key to always listen to your body. Your body may feel at times uncomfortable as you try something new, or gently push its limits, but it should never feel painful.
Every pose can also be modified if you're not quite reaching whether you need to, or you can grab your strap, block or blanket as needed. If you feel any twinges or pain, pull back the pose slightly and focus on a lesser, gentler stretch. You'll still be mastering the pose, and as you practice, you may find you can go deeper into the stretch over time.
Yoga is to be enjoyed, it's a journey of personal development, enlightenment, and progression. The variety is endless so you will never stop learning -- which is what makes it such a powerful part of your workout routine. Our bodies are all individual and we all progress and develop in different ways, at different paces. That is why the journey should be enjoyed just as much as your achievements along the way.
Intermediate Yoga classes
You may already regularly practice as part of a class or perhaps you've learned independently. As you're now looking to take the next step in your yoga, it may be worth exploring teacher-led intermediate yoga classes. You can learn new movements and sequences, with an expert there to guide you into the correct positions, safely and effectively. Plus, sometimes it's nice to share in your successes when you achieve something new...
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