Many athletes see yoga as a way to stretch and increase mobility, but yoga can also be a challenging, full-body workout.
These 11 poses are part of a group of functional yoga postures, meaning postures that best increase athletic performance. These postures below will challenge your single leg balance, core stability, muscular strength and cardiovascular stamina.
The goal of this sequence is to stay tight and fluid as you transition from pose to pose. Once you make your way to the push-ups and core work, your focus should be on maintaining the best alignment possible, while challenging your strength.
The sequence should be performed on the right side all the way through, and then on the left. Then repeat the sequence on both sides one more time.
After you complete this sequence, you will have accumulated 20 pushups, 20 lunges and six minutes of core work. Beyond that, you will stretch your hamstrings and shoulders, find more movement in your spine, increase your balance, test your strength and better your mind and body connection.
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Downward Dog1 of 12
Start at the top of a push-up with your hands shoulder-distance apart and your feet hip-distance apart. Press through your palms as you shift your hips back into Downward Facing Dog. Widen your upper back as you pull your front ribs in. Press your chest to your toes and drive your heel down toward the floor.
Hold this position for five slow breaths, in and out through your nose.
High Lunge2 of 12
From Downward Facing Dog, lift your right leg up and then step your right foot forward between your hands and come into a high lunge. Pull your front ribs in as you lower your tailbone. Drive your back heel behind you as you sink your hips down. Relax your shoulders as you extend through your fingertips.
Hold this pose for five slow breaths, in and out through your nose.
High Lunge to Low Lunge3 of 12
From the high lunge pose, drop your back knee slowly down toward the floor into a low lunge. Then return back to high lunge.
Continue moving back and forth between these poses for 5 cycles.
Warrior III4 of 12
After the five High Lunge to Low Lunge cycles, transition into Warrior III by pushing off of your back foot and lifting your back leg to the same height as your torso. Square your hips down toward the floor and reach through your fingertips and back heel.
Hold this position for five slow breaths. To modify, extend your arms out like a "T."
Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose5 of 12
From Warrior III, swing your back leg through and forward. Extend it straight out in front with your arms overhead. Draw your front ribs in and lift your left shin up toward your face.
Hold for five slow breaths.
Standing Split6 of 12
Transition from the previous pose to Standing Split by swinging your left leg back behind you and reaching your hands down toward your right ankle. Lift your left leg as high as possible while balancing on your right foot.
Hold for five slow breaths.
Easy Twist7 of 12
With your left leg lifted in Standing Split, step your left foot back and come into a Runner's Lunge with your hands on either side of your front foot. Extend your left heel back and the crown of your head forward. Keep your left palm on the floor as you lift your right arm up to twist to the right. Stay long through your spine as you roll your right ribs back.
Hold this pose for five slow breaths.
Side Plank8 of 12
After the Easy Twist hold, place more pressure into your left palm and step your right foot to meet your left and come into Side Plank. Press down through your left palm as you extend your right fingertips up. Squeeze your inner thighs together.
Hold this position for 30 seconds as you breath through your nose.
Push-ups9 of 12
Bring both palms to the floor from Side Plank. Pull your front ribs in, tighten your legs and squeeze your butt. Lower your torso all the way down to the floor, then press back up to the top of the push-up.
Cycle through for five reps. To modify, keep your knees off the floor on the way down and use them only enough to get you back up to plank. Once you complete five reps, rest in Child's Pose.
Plank-ups10 of 12
From the top of a push-up, bring your right forearm down, then your left and come into a forearm plank. Then, place your right palm down and then your left to lift up to plank. Move between forearm plank and full plank for 30 seconds.
Alternate which arms and palm are placed on the floor first while trying to keep your hips level to the floor. Rest in Child's Pose when you are finished.
Bird-Dog11 of 12
Start back at the top of a push-up. Lift and reach your right arm forward. Pick up your left foot while trying to keep your hips level to the floor. Hold for a quick second, then switch. Bring your left arm up and right foot up.
Alternate between these two positions for 30 seconds then rest in Child's Pose.