This comprehensive vinyasa flow draws on flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance. It will open your shoulders, expand your chest, explore deep hip opening, and engage your core through strong standing poses. It will also push you a little out of your comfort zone.
What makes the class unique is the creative spin it puts on traditional poses. You might already be familiar with Warrior 3 or Standing Split, but in this sequence, we’ll practice them with our arms clasped behind our backs.
The idea behind these variations is to encourage you to revisit familiar poses from a different perspective, as if you were experiencing them for the first time. As a teacher, I know how easy it is to fall into the routine of performing poses on autopilot, forgetting how they felt when we were beginners. By adding unique approaches to conventional poses, it can be easier to tap into that beginner’s mindset and truly feel each pose, even if you’ve practiced them a thousand times.
A 30-Minute Full-Body Flow
No props are needed for this session, although if you have them at home, keep them close by and reach for them as needed.
Child’s Pose with Prayer Hands
Start in Child’s Pose. You can bring your big toes to touch or as close to one another as is comfortable, keeping your arms extended in front of you. For a deeper shoulder stretch, bring your palms on your mat, bend your elbows, and bring your thumbs toward the back of your neck. Relax your heart toward the floor and connect with the rhythm of your breath. Let go of any thoughts or concerns from your day.
Consider setting an intention for your practice. It could be as simple as a single word that captures how you want to feel or something else that you want to focus on.
Tabletop With Shoulder Activation
Inhale, straighten your arms, and transition to a Tabletop position with your hands under your shoulders and knees beneath your hips. Spread your fingers for stability. Engage your core and draw your navel in. Bring your right palm to the back of your head. As you inhale, lift your right elbow toward the ceiling, and as you exhale, bring it parallel to the mat. Repeat this movement twice more.
Thread the Needle
From Tabletop with your right elbow lifted toward the sky, come into Thread the Needle by reaching your right arm underneath your chest toward the left side of the mat, palm facing up. Rest your right ear on the mat. Find a comfortable position for your left hand, whether you come onto your fingertips or slide your hand forward toward the front of the mat. To intensify the stretch, press your right arm and back of your right hand into the mat and gently turn your chest toward the ceiling.
Return to hands and knees on the mat in Tabletop. Practice one or two rounds of Cat-Cow stretches. Inhale as you lower your belly and exhale as you round and engage your core. Take one more cycle.
Find Tabletop position and repeat the previous two poses on your left side.
Downward-Facing Dog and Spinal Warm-Up
From Tabletop, press into your palms and lift your hips up and back. As you inhale, ripple forward into Plank Pose, keeping your hips low, your head lifted, and your shoulders drawing away from your ears. Bend your knees and return to Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat this flow one more time.
Downward-Facing Dog With Hip Opener
From Downward-Facing Dog, lift your right leg toward the ceiling, bend your right knee, and let your right foot reach behind you to stretch your hip. Focus on opening and stretching your shoulders rather than squaring them toward the mat. Stay still or trace a big circle with your right knee, moving it in both directions.
Pyramid Pose Variation
From Downward Dog, step or inch your right foot toward the front of the mat in a lunge. Transition into a variation of Pyramid Pose by straightening your right leg and folding forward over your thigh. Your back heel may lift off the mat, which is completely fine. Square your hips to the front of the mat, keeping a bend in your front knee if you need.
Low Lunge with Cactus Arms
From the variation of Pyramid, lower your left knee to the mat and come to a Low Lunge. Draw your front ribs toward the spine and keep your tailbone reaching down. Open your arms into a cactus position, squeezing your shoulder blades toward each other. Inhale as you broaden through your chest. Exhale as you lower your fingertips to the floor.
Warrior 2 Pose
From Low Lunge, lift your left knee, spin the outer edge of your left foot down, and lift into Warrior 2. Your back foot will be almost parallel to the short edge of the mat. Reach through your arms, with your palms facing down, and squeeze your front knee a little more toward the wall behind you. Maintain the bend in your front knee.
Extended Triangle Pose With Shoulder Stretch
From Warrior 2, straighten your front leg and angle your back toes in slightly. Lengthen through both sides of your body as you reach your left arm toward the ceiling, bend your left elbow, and reach your left hand behind your back. Take Cow-Face arms by bending your right elbow behind your head and reaching for your opposite fingers or simply hold onto your shirt. Keep your hips reaching backward and your chest reaching forward.
Extended Triangle Pose
Inhale as you release your arms and move into Extended Triangle Pose, reaching your left arm toward the ceiling and rolling your left shoulder back as you place your right hand on your shin or a block. Shift your hips more toward the back of the mat. Then look down to the floor, place your left hand down, and step back to Downward-Facing Dog.
If you like, take a vinyasa here. For the left side, repeat the sequence by raising your left leg, bending your left knee, and opening your hip. Continue with the flow from there.
From Downward-Facing Dog, lower your knees to the mat. Keep your hips aligned over your knees and walk your hands farther forward as you release your chest toward the mat or rest it on a folded blanket or block. Some people prefer to place their forehead on the mat, while others like to rest their chin on the floor. The choice depends on your comfort and any neck considerations. Breathe slowly and steadily, in and out through your nose.
From Puppy, transition to Forearm Plank by activating your core, placing your palms flat on the floor, tucking your toes under, and lifting your knees and hips off the mat. Push through your heels and reach through the top of your head.
Wild Thing Variation
From Forearm Plank, roll onto your left elbow and come onto your right fingertips. You might want to angle your left forearm in slightly toward the center of the mat. Step your right foot behind you and push your feet into the floor as you reach your right arm overhead. This is a variation of Side Forearm Plank that’s similar to Wild Thing. Return to Forearm Plank and repeat on the other side by shifting over to your right forearm.
From your Wild Thing variation on the second side, transition onto your belly with your feet at least hip-distance apart. Place your forearms on the mat, parallel to each other, with your elbows underneath or slightly in front of your shoulders. Gently lift your chest and head, keeping your lower body grounded. Ensure your elbows align with your shoulders and your forearms support your upper body.
Reset in Tabletop with a few rounds of Cat-Cow.
Tabletop With Backbend
From Tabletop, extend your right leg straight behind you. Bend your right knee and bring your toes toward the ceiling. You can stay in this position or reach back with your left hand, holding onto the ankle and pushing your foot against your palm as if you’re reaching toward the wall behind you. Make sure your right knee faces down rather than out to the side. Slowly release to Tabletop and then transition to the other side. Lift your left heel, reach back with your right hand, and hold the foot into your palm for a stretch. Release.
Humble Warrior 1 Pose
Come into Downward-Facing Dog. Lift your right leg and step your foot forward near the front of the mat. Push into your feet and rise up with your arms alongside your ears in Warrior 1. Interlace your fingers behind your back, roll your shoulders down and away from your ears, and bring your right shoulder and chest alongside your right thigh. You can lift your back heel if you need. Keep the bind with your hands as you lift your chest.
Warrior 3 Variation
With a generous bend in your front knee, find a variation of Warrior 3 that works for you. Try to keep your hips low and keep your knuckles away from your lower back. Sink down a little more by bending your knee again and try to find Standing Split by bringing your chest forward toward your thigh. Keep the bind as you start to straighten your right leg and lift your left leg higher. Reach through your knuckles toward the ceiling. When you’re ready, bring your fingertips down to the mat for stability and fold your chest a little more toward your thigh in Supported Standing Splits.
Release your left foot to the mat alongside your right and transition into Chair Pose with your big toes together and heels apart, sinking your hips down.
Bend your elbows and bring your right arm under the left. Stay here or bring your palms or fingertips to touch in Eagle arms. Cross your right leg over your left once or twice. Sink down a little. Pull your navel in.
Release your arms, exhale, fold forward, and transition to Downward-Facing Dog.
From Down Dog, lift your right leg toward the ceiling and bend your right knee, opening your hip. Transition into Wild Thing by stepping your right leg behind you similar to what you did in Forearm Plank. Keep your left arm straight and reach your right arm up and over. Keep both legs engaged, pushing up and forward.
From Down Dog, either step your right foot forward or first come to Down Dog and then step or inch your right foot forward. Bring your right knee behind your right wrist and straighten your back leg. Square off your pelvis and lift your chest. Stay here or fold forward, remaining here for some good, slow breaths.
Afterward, reset in Downward-Facing Dog. If you prefer, you can take an additional vinyasa at this point. Then, repeat the flow on the second side, starting with Humble Warrior 1.
As we wrap up that second side, you have the option to flow or return to Downward-Facing Dog. Lower yourself down to all fours and then onto your belly, keeping your knees bent and feet flat about hip-width apart. Now, it’s time to find Bridge Pose. Push through your heels, squeeze your glutes, and lift your head. Keep pushing into your big right toe and slowly uncurl, releasing down. You can also widen your feet and gently move them in a windshield-wiper motion, dropping your knees and thighs from side to side.
Reclined Butterfly Pose
Transition into Reclined Butterfly Pose by bringing the soles of your feet together, letting your knees fall open. Your arms can rest in a comfortable position alongside your body or some people prefer to bring their arms overhead for a mild stretch in the chest and upper back. Take a moment here to release fully, and if there are any other adjustments or movements that your body craves, feel free to make them.
Move into Savasana, a time to rest and fully absorb the practice. Let your arms rest by your sides or keep them overhead, whichever is more comfortable for you. Savasana is a powerful practice in which you’ll feel the effects lingering. It’s an opportunity to return to the intention you set at the beginning of the class, allowing it to land in your heart. Stay here as long as you can.
As you awaken, wiggle your fingers and toes, giving your body a big stretch. When you’re ready, use your arms to push into the ground and find a seated position, bringing your hands to your heart, feeling your intention deeply in your heart.
About Our Contributor
Kassandra Reinhardt is an Ottawa-based Yin Yoga and vinyasa yoga instructor whose YouTube channel has grown to 2.2 million subscribers and has more than 230 million views. Kassandra recently released her guided yoga journal, My Yoga Journey: A Guided Journal, her daily affirmation card deck, I Radiate Joy, and her book, Year of Yoga.