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There is just something about fall that feels refreshing and renewing, a time to completely reinvent yourself and create healthier habits. Many use the beginning of fall as a way to buckle down, get organized, and increase productivity in a means to prepare for the holiday season.
But with the start of Fall also comes school, work, and all the other responsibilities that seem to pick up this time of year. Busyness can actually be a good motivator to organize and balance your life, but it can also make things a bit more challenging.
Especially with the holidays right around the corner, it becomes much more difficult to maintain the healthy habits you may have set, whether they are related to health, productivity, or organization.
After practicing yoga for a few years now, I have learned that some poses are extremely beneficial for building strength and balance, both internally and externally.
This 11 pose sequence is perfect for those of you that need that motivation to buckle down and focus on your goals, and is a great routine to practice if you just need to get out of your head for a bit.
The poses require strength, balance, and most of all, patience. Practicing this routine will not only give you a good full body workout, but it will train your mind to get into the present moment and learn better focus.
Here are the poses:
- Downward Facing Dog
- Warrior I
- Reverse Triangle
- Standing Forward Fold
- Side Plank
- Reverse Plank
Go at your own pace for this sequence, make sure to hold each pose for at least 5 slow breaths.
I recommend repeating it 2 times, switching sides to maintain balance, and practicing outside if possible :).
Don’t forget to warm up! Check out this quick and simple seated warm up to do before you start.
This is the pose most often used for meditation, and although it is a seated pose, it actually takes some practice and patience to get it right (+ some pretty open hips!).
How to do Lotus Pose:
- After you’ve warmed up, get into a simple crossed legged position, then place both feet in the crooks of your hips.
- If even after warming up, this is uncomfortable for you, you can do Half Lotus by only placing one foot near the hip, or by staying in Easy Seat.
- Place your hands at your center or on your knees. We are going to stay here for a few more breaths than the other poses in order to find our breath and center ourselves.
- Begin to count to four on your inhales and exhales to maintain a steady pace, and become the observer of your thoughts.
- Stay here for about 10 slow inhales and exhales.
2.Downward Facing Dog
Downward Dog is one of the best poses to wake up your body as it provides a full body stretch and activates multiple muscle groups throughout.
How to do Downward Facing Dog:
- Release your feet from your hips if you were in Full Lotus, and begin to slowly come on to all fours.
- Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders, and that your knees are parallel to each other with your feet tucked.
- On you next inhale, push your hips back and up into the air into Downward Facing Dog.
- Make sure to engage your entire body. Extend through your arms, you spine, and you heels to create balance throughout your body.
- You can pump one leg at a time while straightening the other leg if you have tight hamstrings and loosen yourself up.
- Every time you exhale, extend more through your heels to create a deep stretch and release all the built up tension and to maintain focus.
Modification: Place block under each of your hands to support your wrists or if you find all of your body weight leaning onto your upper body.
Warrior I is an empowering pose and requires a lot of focus to ensure you are in proper alignment, and is also a great gentle chest opener.
How to do Warrior I:
- On your next exhale, lift your right leg up into the air and float it through until it reaches between both hands.
- First ground your front foot completely. Then rotate your back foot on an angle so it is grounded as well.
- Next, use your core to lift up into Warrior I.
- Keep your front leg bent at a 90 degree angle and make sure your knee does not pass your big toe. Rotate your hips so they are evenly facing forward. Extend your arms above your head.
- Keep extending through your back heel and stay grounded as you breathe.
4. Reverse Triangle
Triangle is an excellent pose to practice for balance and focus! This pose feels very different than traditional Triangle as you are rotating the opposite way, challenging your balance.
How to do Reverse Triangle:
- Straighten your front leg, and make sure you feel grounded in your feet and that your back in straight. Then slowly rotate your torso to open to the right as your bring your left hand down towards the ground.
- Bring your left hand to the inside or outside of your right foot, or you can also bring it to your ankle or shin if you’re unable to reach your foot.
- You want to make sure your body is completely linear to the point you would be able to fit between two walls, so make sure you are not hunching your back and lift through your chest.
- After you feel your alignment is correct, lift your left hand up into the sky, forming a straight line of energy with your other shoulder.
Modification: Place a block inside your right foot and place your hand on it instead to help you maintain balance and keep proper alignment.
5. Standing Forward Fold
This sequence is all about focus and balance, but in order to do that we need the space to be able to come back to our “center”, meaning bring awareness back to the body after a couple challenging poses. Standing Forward Fold gives you the ability to rest and reflect on how you feel so far throughout the sequence.
How to do Standing Forward Fold:
- Rotate back to center from Reverse Triangle, then step your lift foot up to meet your right, with feet touching.
- Keeping straight legs and a straight back, fold over your body.
- Reach your fingertips towards the floor, your ankles, or your shins, whatever makes your body feel the best. Or you can also grab opposite elbows here for a nice shoulder stretch and come into Ragdoll pose.
- Take this time to come back to center if your mind has become busy, and refocus on your breath.
Modification: Use blocks under your hands to resist the urge to curve your spine to make your fingertips reach the ground. Proper alignment is much more important than how deep into the pose you go!
Crow pose may seem a bit daunting for those of you who have not mastered it yet, but all it takes is practice, focus, and patience. Once you get it for the first time, you will feel and extreme sense of accomplishment and it will make you realize just how much you are capable of!
How to do Crow:
- From Standing Forward Fold, bend your legs and place your hands flat on the floor, about shoulder distance apart with your fingers spread wide and grounded like suctions cups.
- Keep your hands and feet where they are, and begin to lift your hips as high as you can in the air, until you are on only the balls of your feet.
- Begin to shift the weight into your hands as you start to lift one foot off the ground at a time. You can bend your elbows here or keep them straight to challenge yourself into Crane pose.
- Squeeze your arms with your legs and engage your core to help you lift away from the ground. Keep your gaze between your hands to maintain balance.
- This may take you a few tries, but don’t give up! This is a great pose to help you build confidence and truly teaches you patience. The benefits are so worth the effort.
Modification: Place block in front of your head as well as under your feet to help you with balance and eliminate the fear of falling. Check out our full tutorial on how to practice Crow pose for more assistance prior to trying it out.
7. Side Plank
Side plank is another great balancing pose that also, like many balancing pose, provides a great core strengthening workout.
How to do Side Plank:
- From Crow, first come into a quick traditional plank for a transition by floating or stepping your legs back behind you.
- Make sure your body is in proper alignment before you shift your weight onto the left side of your body, and open up to the right side of the room as you lift your arm up overhead.
- Lift through your hips as much as your can and engage your core throughout the entire pose. Stack your legs so only the outer edge of your left foot is touching the ground. Reach your arm towards the front of the room over your head to get a great side stretch and challenge your balance.
Modification: If you have trouble balancing, bring one knee down to the ground to help you balance, or come onto your forearm instead.
8. Reverse Plank
Reverse Plank is a great way to open your chest and bring awareness to your breath while practicing a somewhat challenging pose.
How to do Reverse Plank:
- From Side Plank, instead of coming back into regular plank, flip your body upside down so your chest is facing towards the ceiling.
- Your alignment should be just like it would be in regular plank, just flipped. Hands should be directly under shoulders, engage your core, and extend through the legs. Make sure your hands are facing towards your feet, not away from them like in regular plank.
- Lift through your chest throughout this pose and let your gaze fall up overhead.
Modification: If this is too deep of a chest opener for you, come into Reverse Tabletop instead.
Powering up the core with yoga poses like Boat is a great way to wake up your body and promote focus. I guarantee when practicing this you will only be thinking about one thing! 😉
How to do Boat:
- Slowly lower yourself down to the ground from Reverse Plank until you are seated.
- Keep your legs stretched out in front of you, and come up to a straight back. Place your feet on the floor in front of you with your legs together.
- Keeping a straight back, start to lean back slightly until you are on your sits bone and feel your core start to engage.
- Start to lift one leg up at a time while you find balance until they are completely off the ground.
- Bring your arms straight out in front of you with thumbs facing towards the ceiling. Point your toes.
- Keep extending through your legs, lifting through your chest, and engaging your core throughout the durations of the pose.
Modification: Feel free to bend your legs if full Boat is not accessible to you! You can also use a yoga strap around your feet to help you balance and maintaining good alignment in this pose.
An inversion like Shoulderstand is a great way to promote blood flow to the head and improve your focus.
How to do Shoulderstand:
- From Boat, lower your legs back onto the ground. Now use your core to slowly roll onto your back, one vertebrae at a time.
- Bring your legs into your chest, then start to straighten them into the air as you place your hands on your lower back for support.
- You can keep you hands on your back for support or straighten them on the mat below you for a shoulder stretch.
- Keep your chin tucked in towards you chest and keep extending through your legs. Let your gaze stay on your toes.
Modification: Keep your hands on your lower back for support. You can also place a block or bolster underneath your sacrum to come into supported shoulderstand instead and to create a more restorative posture.
Plow pose is a great way to end this sequence by providing a great relaxing stretch in the spine and hamstrings.
How to do Plow:
- The transition from shoulderstand is actually very simple, but still requires focus on to maintain proper alignment and to resist the urge to bend your legs.
- From Shoulderstand, simply start to lower your feet over your head.
- Make sure to keep your legs and back straight. You don’t need to lower them all the way if you can’t do that yet.
Modification: Practice this pose by a wall and walk your feet down the wall for more support.
As your final pose, come into Savasana, the most important pose of all! Do NOT skip this step! Give your body the chance to relax and reflect on the strengthening and challenging practice you just endured!
You should feel rejuvenated, focused, and centered after repeating this sequence!
I hope you enjoy this routine and it encourages you to get outside and practice in the crisp, autumn air before it gets too chilly! Enjoy!
Want to remember this sequence for later? Pin it!