September 29, 2021
Yoga Workouts: Exercises You Can Do From Home
Want to get a great yoga workout and exercise using simple poses you can do at home? Fantastic! Here’s a quick guide to get you started.
Types of Yoga Workouts
As you may know, there are many different ways to workout through yoga. Here are a few of the most effective and popular styles when it comes to getting a great workout:
- POWER YOGA – A combination of stretching and bodyweight training that involves moving from one position to another while maintaining a focus on the breath.
- VINYASA FLOW – Essentially the same as power yoga, only with more continuous movement.
- IYENGAR – A style of yoga that involves holding single postures for several minutes at a time. In addition to focusing on the breath, this style puts a particular emphasis on alignment.
Can yoga workouts really get me in shape?
Absolutely! Yoga postures offer a uniquely effective way of training both the body and mind. They range in difficulty from simple to extremely challenging, and when sequenced properly, they can help you get in the best shape of your life, both mentally and physically.
That said, let’s take a look at a few basic postures, as well as some ways you can put them together to create the perfect workout for you!
Yoga Workout Exercise #1: Plank-to-Four-Limbed Staff Pose
In yoga, a “plank” is the position you would be in at the top of a pushup. To do it, simply follow these steps:
- Place your hands and knees on the floor with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees.*
- Tuck your toes and extend your legs back, keeping the feet roughly hip distance apart.
- Press powerfully from the shoulders down through the hands, as if you were trying to push yourself away from the ground.
- Strengthen your quadriceps to help support your hips and lower back.
- Make any adjustments you need in order to make sure the wrists and shoulders are comfortable.
- Breathe slowly and deep through the nose.
From your plank, you can lower down to what’s known in yoga as a “four-limbed staff” pose, or “chaturanga” in Sanskrit. Here’s how to do it:
- As you exhale, start to lean your chest forward as you bend your elbows to ninety degrees. Ideally, your chest will hover roughly 6-8 inches away from the ground, and your forearms will be vertical.
- Do your best to keep the shoulder heads rolling away from the ground, and your shoulder blades sliding down your back (as if you were trying to slide them into your back pockets).
- Keep the legs strong to support your hips and lower back.
- Don’t forget to breathe slowly and deeply through the nose!
From your four-limbed staff pose, inhale and press yourself back up to a plank, doing your best to maintain a straight line from the heels through the crown of the head.
*Note: Make sure to warm up your wrists and shoulders before coming into a plank. A few gentle circles of the wrists and shoulders should do the trick, but make sure to listen to your body. If you feel pain at any point, that’s your body telling you something is wrong. Don’t hesitate to come out of the pose if it doesn’t feel right.
Yoga Workout Exercise #2: Boat Pose to Half-Boat Pose
The famous “boat” pose is a great way to strengthen and tone both your abdominals, as well as your hip flexors. Here’s how do to it:
- Start off sitting on your butt with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Begin to breathe slowly and deeply through the nose.
- As you inhale, lengthen your spine, reach your arms forward with your palms facing up and extend your legs up into the air so that your body makes a “V” shape. If you need to extend the legs one at a time, that’s perfectly ok. And if keeping the legs straight is too difficult, you can bend the knees to help take some pressure off the abs and lower back.
- As you continue to breathe slowly and deeply through the nose, try to continue lengthening the spine and straightening the legs as much as possible.
If you’re ready for more of a challenge, you can lower into a “half-boat” pose. Here’s how to do it:
- As you inhale, let your heels and shoulder blades lower until they’re about six inches off the ground.
- Try to keep the legs straight, the spine long and the hands just off the ground. Again, if keeping the legs straight is too difficult, you can bend the knees and/or place the hands on the ground for additional support.
- Continue breathing slowly and deeply through the nose.
As you exhale, lift your legs and torso back up into a boat pose, doing your best to keep the legs strong and the spine long.
Yoga Workout Exercise #3: Downward Dog to Crescent Pose
Among the most famous of yoga poses, “Downward Facing Dog” is a great way to stretch the hamstrings and tone the shoulders and arms. Here’s how to do it:
- From a plank pose, press your hips up and back so that your body makes an upside down “V.”
- As much as possible, try to feel the sit bones lifting and the heels reaching toward the ground. You may find that a slight bend in the knees helps to give you a better stretch through the hamstrings.
- Try to feel the shoulders rotating externally, which will turn your biceps forward.
- Broaden across your upper back and lengthen the spine as much as possible as you breathe slowly and deeply through the nose.
From downward dog, you can add a bit of stretching and strengthening to the hip flexors and core by coming into a “crescent” pose. Here’s how to do it:
- As you exhale, step one foot forward. As much as possible, try to step it all the way between the hands.
- As you inhale, lift your chest and reach your arms up vertically into the air, keeping the knee of the front leg bent to ninety degrees.
- Strengthen the back leg and sink a little deeper into the front knee as you reach the hands a little higher, lifting the rib cage away from the hips and the shoulders away from the ribs.
- Breathe slowly and deeply through the nose.
As you exhale, let the hands come back down to the ground and step back to downward facing dog, then repeat on the other side.
How to combine these exercises to create a great workout regimen
The possibilities for how you can put these movements together to create a complete yoga workout are virtually unlimited. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
POWER YOGA PRACTICE
A great way to build strength and flexibility while also improving mental resilience!
- Start in a plank, hold for three breaths.
- Exhale to four-limbed staff, then inhale back to plank*
- Sit on your butt and come into a boat pose, hold for three breaths.
- Inhale lower to a half boat, exhale lift back up to boat.
- Roll forward and come into downward facing dog, hold for three breaths.
- Exhale step forward, then inhale up to a crescent pose and hold for three breaths.
- As you exhale, release the hands down and step back to downward dog and repeat on the other side.
- Repeat steps a-g 3-5 times, or as desired.
Note: *For more of a challenge, try holding four-limbed staff pose for a full breath before pressing back up to plank.
A great way to get your heart rate up and build a sweat while also improving concentration. (Note: this practice is identical to the “Power Practice” only without holding any of the poses)
- Start in plank, exhale to four-limbed staff, then inhale back to plank.
- As you exhale, transition onto your butt and come into a boat pose.
- Inhale, lower to half-boat, then exhale back up to boat.
- As you inhale, transition to downward facing dog.
- Exhale, step one foot forward, then inhale and come up to crescent pose.
- Exhale, release to downward dog and repeat on the other side.
- Repeat steps a-f 3-5 times, or as desired.
A great way to build strength and flexibility while also developing a deeper understanding of the mechanics of each posture.
- Start in plank, hold for 5-10 breaths
- Lower to four-limbed staff, hold for 5-10 breaths
- Transition to a boat pose, hold for 5-10 breaths
- Lower to half boat, hold for 5-10 breaths
- Transition to downward facing dog, hold for 5-10 breaths
- Step one foot forward and come up to crescent pose, hold for 5-10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
- Repeat steps a-f 3-5 times or as desired.
CREATE YOUR OWN PRACTICE
One of the greatest things about yoga is that you are free to mix and match postures in any way that feels good to you!
Feel free to explore and use your creativity. As much as possible, try to keep an open mind and have fun. And of course, don’t forget to breathe slowly and deeply through your nose!
How much do online yoga workouts cost?
There is a wide range of price options for online yoga workouts. If you’d like to learn more about the exercises mentioned in this post, as well as many others, you can find a variety of classes with expert instructors on Inner Dimension TV.
Good luck, and happy practicing!