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Ashtanga Meets Power Yoga in This Invigorating ELXR Yoga Sequence

You can have an ELXR experience wherever you are, without any added heat, because the practice uses vigorous movement to raise your internal body temperature.

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ELXR classes follow a systematic structure that warms the body while elevating the heart rate. In the Fayetteville, Arkansas, studio, classes are held in a 98-degree room. But you can have an ELXR experience wherever you are, without any added heat, because the practice uses vigorous movement to raise your internal body temperature. Meditate for a few minutes in Balasana (Child’s Pose) or Sukhasana (Easy Pose), then move through some Cat-Cows, Down Dogs, or forward folds to warm up. Then, move through this invigorating practice. After this sequence, transition to the mat to lower your heart rate and rest. Move through some hip openers, seated forward folds, reclining twists, and Happy Baby. Finish by spending at least 5 minutes in Savasana (Corpse Pose).

Nicole Calhoun in a garland variation
Photo: Brien Hollowell

Malasana, Variation (Garland Pose)

Stand with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart. Turn your heels in and your toes out slightly. Bend your knees and lower your hips toward your heels. Elongate your torso and engage your core. Relax your shoulders and bring your palms together in prayer position at your heart center. On a strong inhalation, press your heels into the floor and jump into the air. Softly land on an exhalation, bending your knees to return to Malasana. Do 10 hops to get your heart rate up. Take a vinyasa.

Nicole Calhoun in Warrior I
Photo: Brien Hollowell

Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I)

Move into Down Dog. Inhale to lift your left leg up into Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog Pose. Step your left foot between your hands. Pivot on your right toes to bring the heel of that foot flat. Inhale, lifting both arms overhead. Hold for 5 breaths.

Nicole Calhoun in Warrior II pose
Photo: Brien Hollowell

Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II)

From Warrior Pose I, exhale, and turn your hips and shoulders toward the long side of your mat. Widen your stance. Raise your arms to shoulder height, parallel to the floor, palms down. Gaze over your front fingertips. Take 5 breaths. Take a vinyasa. Repeat Warrior I and Warrior II on the other side. Take a vinyasa. End in Down Dog.

Nicole Calhoun moving through a plank pose variation
Photo: Brien Hollowell

Plank Pose, Variation

From Down Dog, shift your body forward into Plank Pose. Engage your quads and core while pressing the mat away with strong, straight arms for 5 breaths. Move your right hand directly underneath your face. Open your body to face the left side of your mat, lifting your left arm straight into the air as you come to the pinky-toe edge of your right foot. Your hips and torso now face the left side of the room in Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose). Exhale, and return to Plank. Hold Plank or bend your elbows and lower your body into a Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose) pushup. Keep your elbows hugged in toward your ribcage. Press back up into Plank. Repeat on the right side. This is one round. Do 4 more rounds, then take a vinyasa.

Nicole Calhoun in Chair Pose with heels lifted
Photo: Brien Hollowell

Utkatasana, Variation (Chair Pose)

Move into Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and inhale. Exhale to bend your knees and lower your hips as if sitting down. Inhale, and sweep both arms overhead. Exhale again, keeping your chest lifted. Shift your weight into the balls of your feet and ground your toes. Lift your heels. Balance by engaging your core, squeezing your inner thighs together, and gazing forward. Hold for 8 breaths. Take a vinyasa.

Nicole Calhoun in Crow Pose
Photo: Brien Hollowell

Kakasana (Crow Pose)

Return to Chair Pose. Separate your knees to hip-width apart. Fold forward, bringing your palms to the mat. Bend your elbows 90 degrees, hugging them in toward the rib cage. Gaze forward. Firmly squeeze your outer triceps with your inner knees. Shift your weight forward and lift your toes away from the mat. Hug your heels close to your rear end. Hold for 8 breaths. Exit by stepping or jumping back to Chaturanga. Take a vinyasa.

Nicole Calhoun in Warrior III
Photo: Brien Hollowell

Virabhadrasana III (Warrior Pose III)

From Down Dog, step your left foot forward into a High Lunge, lift your torso, and press your palms together at heart center. Inhale, and shift your torso forward. Press into your left foot to stand on your left leg as your right leg floats up behind you. Bring your chest and lifted leg parallel to the mat. Level your hips and engage your core to support your low back. Find balance, then reach both arms forward. Hold for 3 breaths. Exit the pose by stepping back into High Lunge. Take a vinyasa. Repeat on the other side.

Nicole Calhoun moving through a Boat Pose variation
Photo: Brien Hollowell

Paripurna Navasana, Variation (Full Boat Pose)

Begin seated in Sukhasana (Easy Pose). Uncross your ankles, place your hands next to your hips, and extend your legs. Lean back, lifting your feet high off the floor to bring your body to a V shape. Strongly engage your quads and sweep your arms up to frame your face. Keep your chest lifted and your shoulders relaxed as you take 5 breaths. Exhale, and lower your legs and back into Low Boat Pose, hovering your heels and shoulders 2 inches above the mat. Gaze at your toes. Take 5 breaths. Stay here and inhale to extend both arms overhead, pressing your low back into the mat as you look toward the ceiling. Take 5 breaths. Repeat this series 3 times. Take a vinyasa.

Nicole Calhoun in a handstand
Photo: Brien Hollowell

Adho Mukha Vrksasana, Variation (Handstand)

From Down Dog, step your left foot forward and come into Warrior Pose I. On an exhalation, bring both palms down to the mat, framing your left foot. Shift your shoulders forward over your wrists and gaze slightly beyond your thumbs. With strong, straight arms, inhale, and hop off your left foot into a handstand. Use your core strength to maintain control. Exhale as you softly land. Repeat 3 times, then switch sides and repeat with the right foot forward. Take a vinyasa.

Nicole Calhoun in Sugarcane variation of Half Moon Pose
Photo: Brien Hollowell

Ardha Chandra Chapasana (Sugarcane Variation of Half Moon Pose)

From Down Dog, step your right foot forward and come into Warrior Pose II. Exhale, and hinge at the hip to bring your right fingertips to the mat in front of your right foot. Press into the right foot, and lift your left leg straight up until it is parallel to the floor. Keep your toes, hips, and torso facing the left side of the mat. Bend your left knee, and clasp your left foot with your left hand, stretching your quad. Take 8 breaths as you gaze toward the ceiling. Return to Warrior Pose II. Repeat on the other side. Take a vinyasa.

Nicole Calhoun in Wheel Pose
Photo: Brien Hollowell

Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose)

From Down Dog, lower your knees to the floor, and find a seat. Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the mat, your heels close to your rear end. Reach back to bring your palms on the mat on either side of your ears with your elbows pointing toward the ceiling. Ground your heels down, and lift your hips, ribs, shoulders, and head off of the mat, pressing into your hands and elongating your arms. Hold for 3 breaths. Tuck your chin in slightly. Lower down to the mat, and take a full breath as rest. Repeat 2 more times.


Nicole Calhoun is the founder of ELXR Yoga in Fayetteville, Arkansas. A former Division 1 scholarship hurdler at Texas Tech University, she holds a doctorate in molecular biology and is a mom of three. She began her yoga practice in 2009. Find her at elxryogalounge.com. For more practices with Nicole Calhoun, go to yogajournal.com/ELXR.