High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been trending for the last few years for good reason: There’s strong scientific evidence that it can help you do everything from burn fat and build muscle to improve your metabolism and heart health. Yet as yogis, we don’t always incorporate this kind of cardiovascularly challenging exercise into our regular routines. Enter the following sequence, my blend of asana with a HIIT tempo, which can help you build strength and burn calories while also inspiring you to feel empowered—all in 15 to 20 minutes.
1. Do each move for 1 minute, then transition to the next. With each HIIT-inspired asana, aim for 30 seconds of slow, mindful motion, followed by 20 seconds of a faster pace, and finally 10 seconds of high-intensity movement in which you move as strongly as you can while still maintaining good alignment.
2. Breathe through your mouth whenever needed, and feel free to walk in place for 1 minute between each 1-minute active round as you build your cardiovascular endurance.
1. Mountain Pose
Come to stand at the front of your mat with your feet either together or hip-distance apart and your arms at your sides. Root down evenly through your feet and lift up through the crown of your head as you take a few mindful breaths through your nose or mouth.
Step your feet hip-distance apart. With your feet evenly grounded and toes spreading (not gripping the mat), bend your knees. Reach your arms up to find Utkatasana (Chair Pose) and inhale. On an exhale, straighten your legs and lift your heels off the mat as you bring your fists, facing upward, to your hips. Repeat for 30 seconds, then begin to jump off the mat entirely on your exhales, making sure to land with your hips back, which will take pressure off your knee joints. Repeat for 1 minute.
Come into Chair Pose again. Inhale here, and on your exhale, bring your palms together at your chest and touch your right elbow to the outside of your left knee. (Keep both hips back to protect your knees.) Inhale to return to Chair Pose, or come to stand with your arms reaching up. On your next exhale, twist to the opposite direction (left elbow to right knee). Continue this movement, alternating sides as you pass back through center, for 1 minute.
Face the long edge of your mat and walk your feet much wider than your hips. Bend your knees, and turn your feet out until your toes face the same direction as your kneecaps. As you inhale, reach your arms overhead for Temple Pose. As you exhale, step your left foot to meet your right foot in Chair Pose with palms together at your chest. Inhale and step wide to return to Temple Pose; exhale and step your right foot to meet your left back in Chair Pose facing the other direction, again with your palms together at your chest. Repeat for 1 minute.
From Temple Pose, turn your feet forward, so they’re parallel to the short edges of your mat. Bend your knees and move your spine and arms to the left and right in a flowing, organic movement of your choice. Be sure to draw your low belly and lumbar spine in a little so you don’t “hang” in the lower- back curve.
Come into High Lunge with your left foot forward, right foot back; your feet should be about hip-width apart. As you inhale, straighten your legs and reach your arms overhead. As you exhale, bend your front knee and sweep your hands down to form upturned fists at your hips. Inhale to return to High Lunge. Repeat for 1 minute; then, if needed, rest before switching sides, with your right foot forward. Repeat for 1 more minute.
Come into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), making sure your fingertips and palms are planted strongly and evenly on your mat. On your exhale, lift the heel of your right foot, bend your left knee, and move it toward your left elbow; on your inhale, return to Down Dog. On your next exhale, come onto the ball of your left foot, bring your right knee toward your right elbow, then return to Down Dog on the inhale. Repeat for 30 seconds. If possible, for the final 30 seconds, pick up the pace until you begin to “run” this pose, bringing your knees to your elbows on each exhale. (If “running” is too much, drop to your hands and knees.)
Come into Plank Pose, with your hands shoulder-width apart and fingers strongly grounded into the mat. Focus on lifting your front belly, ribs, and lumbar spine for support. Stay here for a couple of breaths, then, keeping your feet separated (not stacked), begin to sway your heels from side to side, keeping your hips lifted and your body in one long line. Repeat for 1 minute. (If this is too challenging to maintain without losing form, drop to your knees and instead sway your hips from side to side.)
Come to sit on your shins and walk your fingertips back until you feel a shoulder stretch. Gently draw your front low belly in and up for lumbar support. Take a few long, deep breaths to fill your chest. Stay here, breathing deeply, for 1 minute.
Bring your knees mat-distance apart and touch your big toes together. As you exhale, lay your torso down between your thighs and place your hands on the mat alongside your body. Stay here for 1 minute or longer, breathing deeply as you take a well-earned rest.
After your heart rate slows, rest in Savasana (Corpse Pose) for 5–10 minutes to really integrate the physical and mental benefits of this vigorous practice. Then, set an intention to let this empowered state guide you throughout the rest of your day.
About Our Pro
Teacher and model Sadie Nardini is the founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, a biomechanics-based flow style, and she is the lead singer of Salt & Bone. Nardini teaches online and around the world. Learn more at sadienardini.com.