It can be hard to know what poses to include in your yoga practice to advance from beginner to intermediate. We’ve put together a great, full-body routine that will have you feeling the burn and looking forward to future advancement.
With this routine, you’ll be able to move through the individual yoga sequences with ease to create an unimpeded flow that will help keep your heart rate up and your muscles engaged. Then, we close things out with a deep hip stretch that will quickly become a go-to release pose for relieving the aches and pains of sitting or standing all day.
Awkward Chair Pose
We’ll start with a simple but powerful pose, Utkatasana or awkward chair pose. This pose will help to strengthen the full range of muscles in your legs as well as your ankles while also stretching your shoulders and side body. As with the majority of standing poses, awkward chair should also help you improve your balance.
- Start in a mountain pose, standing tall at the top of your mat with your hands at your sides, palms facing forward.
- Keep your arms extended as you raise them overhead and inhale bringing your biceps next to your ears.
- As you exhale, slowly start to bend your knees and sink your hips back and down until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Release your arms down and straighten your legs to come back to the starting position.
Next, we’ll move into a slightly more challenging standing pose, the eagle pose, also called Garudasana. This pose requires focus as well as balance as you must be aware of your whole body to maintain the proper posture. When done correctly, eagle pose stretches your upper back and shoulders as well as your thighs while also strengthening your legs, ankles, and core.
- From your finishing mountain pose in the last yoga sequence, begin to sink into the ground until both of your knees are bent.
- Shift your weight into your left foot as you lift your right foot up and wrap it over and behind your left leg so that your right thigh is over top of your left one and your right foot is hooked around your calf.
- Bring your arms out in front of you and wind your left hand around your right arm bringing your palms together if you can, if not you can hold at the wrist or place the backs of your hands together.
- Lift your chest and bring your hands up so that your elbows are at shoulder height and press your hands together to feel the stretch in your back and shoulders.
- Take deep breaths as you hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Release your arms first then lower your right leg back to the ground and come back to a mountain pose.
- Repeat the pose with the opposite arm and leg on top.
Extended Side Angle Pose
While you technically do the next two poses standing, they aren’t standing poses in the same way the first two were. With extended side angle pose, or Utthita Parsvakonasana, will help you create length in your side body while also improving balance and posture as well as boosting energy.
- From the finishing mountain pose of your last yoga sequence, bring your left leg straight back behind you so that your feet are nearly as wide as your mat and turn to face the long edge.
- Bring your arms out to the sides level with your shoulders, palms facing down, and reach through your fingers in both directions.
- Turn your left foot so that your toes are pointing to the top of the mat while keeping your back foot pointing forward.
- Bend your left knee and sink into the lunge as you let your right ankle extend to keep your right foot flat on the floor.
- Hinge from your hips as you drop your left hand towards the floor and pivot your right hand toward the ceiling and then further to align your bicep with your ear as you rotate your chest up and let your gaze follow your right hand. Feel free to use a block if you cannot reach your hand all the way to the floor safely.
- Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds
- Slowly reverse the motion and bring yourself back upright before shifting your feet back to the long edge of your mat.
- Repeat the pose in the opposite direction.
With the pyramid pose, also called Parsvottanasana, you’ll get a good stretch in the full length of your spine as well as your shoulders, hips, hamstrings, and even your wrists while strengthening your legs and helping to improve your posture.
- Return to a mountain pose but stand close to the middle of your yoga mat.
- Place your hands on your hips to feel that your hips are staying square and level as you step your right foot back so that your toes are a few inches behind your other heel with your back foot at a 30 to 45-degree angle.
- Inhale and bring your arms up and out to the sides.
- Exhale and sweep your forearms back and down so that you end up clasping your forearms or elbows with your hands behind your back.
- Inhale again and lengthen through your spine as you grow tall through your crown.
- As you exhale, hinge from your hips and fold forward toward your left leg and release your forehead towards your shin.
- Let your arms lift away from your torso as your pull your elbows towards your head and stretch through the shoulders and the collarbone.
- Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Inhale and press down through your legs as you lift your torso back up then release your arms and step your feet back to mountain pose.
- Repeat the pose with the opposite leg forward.
Cow Face Pose
For the final yoga sequence of this intermediate yoga routine, we’ll be taking things down to the floor with Gomukhasana or the cow face pose. After all of the work you’ve just put your legs through, this hip opening stretch pose will help to release some of the tension in your legs, lower back, and shoulders.
- Make your way to the floor and find a staff pose by sitting on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Bring your right leg up and over your left leg with your right knee bent over your left thigh so that your right foot is next to your hips.
- Bend your left knee and bring your left foot back towards your hips as well so that your knees are stacked over each other as much as you can.
- Bring your left hand out to the side then rotate your hand behind your back to place the back of your hand along your spine.
- Bring your right hand out to the side and up as you bend your elbow to place the palm of your right hand on your spine just below your neck.
- If you are able, reach your hands towards each other until you can grab hold of your fingers or your palms are flat against each other.
- You may already feel a large amount of tension here, if so take a few breaths here as you focus on connecting your sit bones to the floor and squaring your hips.
- Take a deep breath in as you lengthen through your spine and grow tall through your crown.
- Hinge from your hips and start to fold forward as you exhale using your hands in front of you on the mat to brace yourself and maintain a straight spine.
- Continue to lengthen through your spine with each inhale and fold further with each exhale until you can go no further.
- Hold at the bottom of your fold for an additional 10 to 30 seconds.
- Release your arms and bring them to the mat to support you as you lift your torso back up and then lean back to untangle your legs.
- If you feel any discomfort in your knees, let your legs fall side to side like windshield wipers to neutralize the knees.
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