Yoga for Athletes

3 Ways to Make Your Yoga Practice More Dynamic

Here, Johnston offers 3 hybrid moves that will get you out of your yoga rut AND give you a metabolic boost. Remember to warm up with Sun Salutations before beginning.

Lisa “Firefly” Johnston, head of teacher training and development for Ahnu® YogaSport™, a hybrid yoga program that combines yoga postures with resistance training and cardio intervals, says the key to making your yoga practice more dynamic is to incorporate different training modalities, such as strength, cardio, and balance. Here, Johnston offers 3 hybrid moves that will get you out of your yoga rut AND give you a metabolic boost. Remember to warm up with Sun Salutations before beginning.

1) Incorporate resistance/strength training into your standing sequences or asanas. 

Adding strength training into your yoga practice helps you to develop more power and endurance, and incorporating a resistance band can help you develop greater alignment and kinesthetic awareness.

Try this: Warrior II Bow and Arrow

Use a resistance band to turn Warrior II into a row for your shoulders, biceps, and upper back. Begin in a Warrior II stance on your right side with your foot on the middle of a resistance band. With an overhand grip, hold both handles with the left hand, and extend your right arm forward in line with your shoulder throughout the entire movement.

Keep your core activated, and pull the left hand back until the upper arm is parallel to the floor. Your gripping hand should face your body. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 10 – 12 times, then do the other side.

2) Add cardio intervals. 

Try doing “yoga burpees” to add a cardio element to your practice. If you’ve ever taken a circuit training or bootcamp class, you are likely familiar with burpees. The yoga version ends in a reverse swan dive to standing instead of a jump. It is a whole-body exercise that will elevate your heart rate in a hurry. Do these as quickly as you can while still maintaining proper alignment. Burpees can be done at the beginning or end of any standing sequence.

Try this: Yoga Burpees

  1. From Mountain Pose, sweep your arms toward the sky.
  2. Forward fold (swan dive toward your legs.)
  3. Press your hands into the ground, bend your knees, and kick your feet back into Plank (option to take a Chaturanga here.)
  4. Jump your feet forward behind your hands (land with bent or straight legs).
  5. Return to standing with your arms extended over your head (reverse “swan dive”).
  6. Repeat steps 2 – 6 for 30-60 seconds.

3) Use a medicine ball to improve balance and work your core.

Combining slow dynamic movement with a medicine ball in Mountain Pose or Tree Pose can improve balance and strengthen your deepest core muscles.

Try this: Yoga Medicine Ball Circles

Start in Mountain Pose, holding a medicine ball (or a kettlebell) in both hands. Bring feet hip-width apart. Engage your core, and bring the ball up toward your right shoulder and circle it around your head. Return the ball to the front to complete one repetition. Keep the ball close to your body. Pay attention to your alignment, making sure to keep your core activated throughout the entire movement. Don’t “lock” your knees. Repeat the ball circles 6-8 times in each direction. Once you have mastered this exercise, you can try it again in Tree Pose for more of a balance/core challenge.


In addition to yoga burpees, another way to add a cardio element to your practice is to flow back and forth between 2-3 poses with the same hip orientation for a set amount of time (for example, five sets), says Johnston. Then, turn up the heat by flowing between a standing pose and a balancing pose. Have fun and get creative!

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