We can all appreciate a beautifully sequenced yoga class – and when we have time for it, it can feel magical to lie in savasana after 60 minutes of moving, twisting and binding to music in a class. But we don’t always have the luxury of time to take a class like that when we need or want it.
Luckily, Ali Brashler, manager at Bare Feet Power Yoga in Chicago’s West Loop, knows that. So when you don’t have the time to make it to class but are in serious need of an energy boost, she’s got you covered with a series of poses that she swears will do more good than a cup of coffee.
These are Ali’s favorite poses to boost energy morning, noon or night – whenever you need that extra umph. And if you want to find more of Ali’s pose ideas and full sequences to do at home, you can find her on the SweatWorking app. Sign up for the athlete waitlist today and be sure to follow SweatWorking on Instagram for coaches and athlete updates.
These nine poses will give you the energy you need to tackle your day:
- Cat and cow pose (5-10 rounds)
- Sun salutations (5 rounds)
- Warrior II (at least once each side, right and left)
- Half moon (at least once each side, right and left)
- Headstand (hold for a minute or less, then come down safely)
- Shakti jumps (10-15 jumps, then take a break or move on)
- Bridge (3-5 rounds)
- Wheel (2-4 rounds)
- Right nostril breathing (10-15 breaths)
This is what you’ll do with them:
Ali ordered these movements in a way that makes sense to get (and keep) your body warm so you can practice these poses safely. But if you want to take more time on some of the movements than others or repeat a few of the poses more than once, you can!
Helpful tips for practicing some of these poses at home:
In your sun salutations, if you miss a part of the sequence, don’t worry! Think more about connecting your breath to your movement to warm up your body.
If you’re newer to headstands, don’t hold the pose for more than one minute at a time, but feel free to take a few attempts after giving your upper body a break. Remember to balance on the top of your head, not the crown of your head, and use your arms to support you so your weight isn’t all on your neck.
Above all, have fun and be creative!
These are the poses broken down:
Cat and Cow pose: Start in table-top position, on all fours with your hips over your knees and shoulders over your wrists. Inhale and drop your belly, tilt you pelvis and tailbone up and look up. Exhale to draw your belly button toward your spine, round your spine and look down. This motion will warm up your body, create mobility through your spine and get you breathing more deeply.
Sun salutations: One sun salutation is a series of poses, and each pose is matched to either an inhale or an exhale. You’ll go through the whole series of poses five times total.
- Start standing with your palms pressed together
- Inhale to reach your arms up and look up
- Exhale to fold forward
- Inhale to lift your chest up, placing your hands on your shins or keeping fingertips on the ground
- Exhale to step back to a high plank and lower your body halfway down to chaturanga (a breakdown of proper chaturanga form is here)
- Inhale to lift your chest to upward facing dog
- Exhale to move back to downward facing dog
- Take one breath to move to the top of your mat, stand all the way back up, and press your palms to your heart
Warrior II: Start with your front leg turned out and in alignment with the arch of your back foot. Bend your front knee, keeping your knee tracking over your middle toes on your front foot. Extend your arms and look over your front fingertips.
Keep your heels grounded down and your pelvis gently tucked to avoid a major sway in your lower back. Externally rotate your front hip to keep you knee in line. Take 5-10 deep breaths with one foot forward, then repeat on the other leg. Repeat each side as needed.
Half moon: With your feet in the same alignment as in Warrior II, start to lean into your front leg, slightly bend your front knee and lift your opposite leg and arm up. Use your bottom hand to support you on the ground.
Flex your lifted foot when it’s in the air and lift your top arm up. To add a challenge, look up for your top hand and take some weight off of your bottom hand.Take 5-10 deep breaths with one foot forward, then repeat on the other leg. Repeat each side as needed.
Headstand: For a classical headstand as Ali is demonstrating, interlace your fingers to create a basket in which you’ll place the top of your head. Bring the top of your head to the ground in your hands and start to walk your feet closer to your face, lifting your hips high as you walk your toes closer to you.
Using your core, begin to lift your feet off the ground. You’ll push down a lot through your elbows to keep weight in your arms and hands and out of your neck. When your feet come to 90 degrees, you can keep them there (it’s a lot of core work to hold that pike position!) or you can extend your legs straight into the air. Hold for 10-15 breaths and slowly exit the pose the way you came into it, with just as much control. Child’s pose is a great resting pose after headstand.
Shakti jumps: Get ready to play! Start in downward facing dog. Walk your feet one step closer to your hands, bend your knees a lot and push your chest back (think like pulling an arrow before releasing it from a bow). When you exhale, jump towards your hands, aiming to lift your hips high in the air. Your feet can go wide, just think about stacking your hips over your shoulders.
When you land, you’ll land back in downward facing dog with bent knees. Continue to set up and jump, stacking hips over shoulders each round for 10-15 tries. Take a break by sitting on your knees or heels and roll your wrists around. Repeat as many times as you’d like.
Bridge pose: In a supine position, plant your feet on the ground and lift your hips up. Shimmy your shoulders underneath you and interlace your hands. Keep squeezing your glutes and tracking your knees forward. Take 5-10 breaths, then lower down slowly. Repeat 3-5 times.
Wheel: Your legs will set up like bridge pose. Bring your hands by your ears, fingertips facing your heels. Push down through your heels to lift your hips up and straighten your arms. Press your chest backwards and your knees forwards. Take 5-10 breaths, then slowly lower down. Repeat 2-4 times.
If this pose doesn’t feel great for your back, repeat bridge pose.
Right nostril breathing: You may have heard of alternate nostril breathing (Hillary Clinton is a big fan of it). For this exercise, you’ll focus primarily on breathing through your right nostril, because according to practices in Kundalini yoga, breathing through the right nostril is associated with your will power, alertness and energy.
Sit in a cross-legged or comfortable seated position. Place one finger over your left nostril and concentrate on breathing deeply through your right nostril. Match the length of your inhale to the length of your exhale. Take 10-15 breaths.
Bonus: Drink coffee and take on the day.
(Disclaimer: This workout is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor is it a replacement for seeking medical treatment or professional nutrition advice. Do not start any nutrition or physical activity program without first consulting your physician.)