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Have you ever lost track of time while practicing yoga? Stepping onto our mats, even for a short 10-minute yoga flow, can sometimes allow us to become so present with our bodies that the constant chattering in our heads can finally quiet. It can almost feel like stepping through a portal into a different dimension.
One of my motivations for enrolling in a 200-hour yoga teacher training was to understand how I could experience this feeling more often. I wanted to learn how to access this sense of moving my body as self-expression while being safe but without being super structured or relying on guidance from an instructor.
During my training, I learned about pratyahara, the fifth limb of yoga according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. This term is often translated as “withdrawal of the senses.” My interpretation of pratyahara is when we take away the instructors and their verbal cues, we empower ourselves to delve even deeper into our own experience. Flowing without the constraints of guidance or instruction, we heighten our perception of what’s happening for us internally. We allow ourselves to be guided by our own inner compass and find a fluidity in our movement that comes intuitively. We become cartographers, exploring and charting our own inner worlds.
After graduating from YTT, I began to experiment with my own style of asana. I started to free flow within the realm of familiar movement and in a manner that was entirely unscripted. I found that my body knew where it was going next before my brain had a chance to catch up, and it taught me so much about the pleasure of transitions.
This approach allows you to link poses in creative, dynamic ways that feel intuitive instead of following the typical class structure of building methodically to a peak posture. When I find a sequence of poses that feels right, I like to flow through it again and again, not unlike Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutation A). When I approach my practice in this fashion, I tend to lose track of time as I find myself.
Creating the following 10-minute yoga flow taught me so much about building self trust and an awareness of your body through safe and intuitive movement. The focus of the flow is on discovering that sweet spot between strength and mobility: think lots of rotation to work your deep transverse muscles within flowy movement patterns. Save it for days you’ve got a lot in the tank since it will have you feeling like you’re dancing on the mat!
A 10-minute yoga practice to help you find your flow
This sequence is designed for free-flowing movement. It’s not about getting it “right.” It’s about making it your own. Feel free to add more Sun Salutations or funky transitions, take out poses that feel inaccessible, and vary the poses whenever you need.
I like to prep for any intuitive flow with a short warm-up that includes a few Cat and Cows, hamstring stretches such as Down Dog and Half Splits, hip openers like Lizard and Lizard Twist (sometimes called Crooked Monkey), and maybe some Sun Salutations.
From Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), step your right foot in between your hands, then root down through your right heel to rise into your High Lunge while reaching tall through your fingertips. Your entire body should be active—lift the arch of your back foot, squeeze your glutes, and draw your front ribs toward your spine rather than letting them flare out.
Revolved High Lunge
From High Lunge, keep your legs as they are and twist to the right as you reach your arms straight out from your shoulders. Your lower body is still lighting up with activation here. Keep your back knee lifted if you can.
From High Lunge Twist, stay stable in your lower body while you lift your chest and land your right hand on your back (left) thigh. Reach your left hand up and overhead, working thoracic mobility in a slight backbend. If you can, try and gaze toward your back hand.
Low Lunge Twist
From leaning back in High Lunge, keep your legs as they are and lean forward to plant your left hand on the floor beneath your left shoulder. Twist to the right as you reach your right hand toward the ceiling. Think of creating one long line from your left wrist to your right fingertips. Your lower body is still lighting up with activation here. Keep your back knee lifted if you can.
Vasisthasana (Side Plank)
From Low Lunge Twist, transition into Side Plank by rolling onto the outer edge of your left foot, sweeping your right foot back, and either stacking it on top of your left foot or keeping your right leg lifted. Press down through your left hand and reach your right hand straight toward the ceiling. Feel free to drop your left knee to the mat for more support.
Camatkarasana (Wild Thing)
From Side Plank, bend your right knee and step your right foot behind you, landing lightly on the ball of your foot. Keep your left leg straight as you reach your right arm back alongside your head with your palm up. Lift your chest and arch your back in Wild Thing.
Skandasana (Side Lunge)
From Wild Thing, shift your weight back to your left foot and come back onto the outer edge. Use that stability to draw your right knee into your chest and sweep your right arm around as you step your right foot to the top of the mat in Low Lunge. Pivot to face the left long side of the mat in Skandasana by coming onto the heel of your left foot while keeping your left leg straight. Your right knee remains bent while your hands come together in Anjali Mudra at your chest or rest on the floor for support or you can reach your left arm alonside your ear.
From Skandasana, turn to face the front of the mat and place your hands on either side of your front foot in a lunge. Sweep your right leg up as if you were using it like a paintbrush on the ceiling as you come into Three-Legged Dog. Be certain to squeeze your right glute.
Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose)
From Three-Legged Dog, quietly land your right foot back at the top of the mat. Keep a microbend in your right knee as you angle your back foot out about 45 degrees, pushing into the back edge of your left foot. Keep your spine long and hinge forward from your hips (instead of rounding the spine to force your forehead to your shin) in Pyramid Pose.
From Pyramid, come onto the ball of your left foot and sweep your right leg back up for Three-Legged Down Dog.
From Three-Legged Dog, move through a vinyasa by lowering your right foot to the mat and coming into Plank, lowering yourself to Chaturanga, and then pulling your chest forward and up into Cobra or Upward-Facing Dog, and then finding your way back to Downward-Facing Dog.
Repeat the sequence, varying it however and wherever you like, on the other side. Practice the flow slowly as many times as you need to feel comfortable with it. Then, once you’ve got the hang of it, let your body take over! Rinse and repeat as many times as you like.
About our contributor
After burnout led to an autoimmune diagnosis, Bianca Butler found her purpose: bringing wellness to the workplace. You can find her balancing her day job with her life’s work—speaking about corporate well-being, teaching yoga, and surfing anywhere the water’s warm.