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Yoga Sequences

20-Minute Sequence To Keep You Young In Body + Mind

In order to stay agile as you age, make forward bends, backbends, and twists a regular part of your practice. Start here.

In order to stay agile as you age, make forward bends, backbends, and twists a regular part of your practice. Start here.

Practice Tips

Begin and end by chanting Om, and keep the sound of it going mentally with each pose. Warm up your spine by moving it forward, backward, sideways, and into twists, synching up your breath with the movement. With the sequence, modify until your body feels ready for deep backbends. Practice slides 2–9 twice, switching legs for the second round.

See also Backbend Fearlessly with the Dharma Yoga Wheel

Mountain Pose to Wide-Legged Raised-Arm Mountain Pose

standing at attention pose, samisthiti

Tadasana to Hasta Prasarita Tadasana

1 minute, 8–10 breaths

Build heat with jumping jacks. Start in Mountain Pose, with your arms by your sides and your palms resting against the outsides of your legs. Inhale to swing the arms up and clap the palms overhead while jumping the feet out wide. Exhale to move back to Mountain Pose. Continue, breathing exclusively through the nose.

See also Work It: Mountain Pose

Tadasana, variation

mountain pose with chest expansion, tadasana

Mountain Pose, variation

30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each time

From Mountain Pose, interlace your fingers behind your back. Squeeze your buttocks, shoulder blades, and forearms together. Push your pelvis and hands away from each other and bring your chin toward your chest. Gaze up while holding the pose and try to let the breath find its own natural rhythm. Inhale to come back to Tadasana, but keep your fingers interlaced.

See also Kathryn Budig Challenge Pose: Dropbacks

Toppling Tree Pose

toppling tree pose

Pattan Vrksasana

30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each side

Bend forward until your belly touches your left thigh. Try to maintain a backbend. Then slowly raise your right leg, both arms, and your head. Point your right toes, gaze at the ground about four feet ahead of the left toes, and concentrate on finding stillness.

See also Find Your Roots in Tree Pose

Monkey Pose, variation

half hanumanasana pose

Kapyasana, variation

30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each side.

From Toppling Tree Pose, bend your left knee and gently lower your right foot and knee to the floor, coming into a Low Lunge. Exhale to release your hands. Reach your left arm out to the side then bend your elbow until your left hand is between your shoulder blades, with the palm facing out. Raise your right arm overhead and bend the elbow. Reach down and hook the left fingers with the right, pressing the back of the head against the right arm. Stay still, gaze up, and stretch.

See also Moving Toward Monkey Pose

Revolved Side Angle Pose, variation

revolved crescent lunge, parivrtta anjaneyasana

Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, variation

1 minute, 8–10 breaths, each side

Release your arms and bring them parallel to the ground. Shift your hips back and move your left foot in so your left shin, left thigh, right thigh, and the floor create a square. Place your right upper arm against the outer left thigh. Push your palms together and twist from the base of the spine through the crown of the head. Turn your face up and stay still. Exhale to release the twist. If ending here, return to Mountain Pose after the first round.

See also Twist into Revolved Side Angle Pose (Parivrtta Parsvakonasana)

Lizard Pose

lizard pose, uthann pristhasana

Utthan Pristhasana

1 minute, 8–10 breaths, each side

After you unwind from Revolved Side Angle Pose, variation, move your left foot forward, keeping your lower left leg perpendicular to the floor. Bring your elbows and forearms to the floor on the inside of your left foot and let the left thigh relax. If you are more flexible, you can take your elbows wider and work to bring your chest and chin to the ground. The top of your right thigh should face the ground throughout. Gaze forward while you hold the pose.

See also Kathryn Budig Challenge Pose: Flying Lizard

Upward-Facing Dog Pose

upward facing dog pose, urdhva mukha svasana

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana 

30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each time

Tuck your right toes under and move your left foot back into Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose). Then lead with your head, pressing your hands into the ground, as you backbend into Upward-Facing Dog. You can be on your toes or the tops of your feet. Your thighs should be close to the floor, but your legs shouldn’t touch it. Bring your gaze straight ahead or back to incorporate the upper spine into the backbend. Avoid crunching the lower back.

See also Watch + Learn: Upward-Facing Dog Pose

Downward-Facing Dog Pose

downward facing dog pose, adho mukha svasana

Adho Mukha Svanasana

30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each time

On an exhalation, take your hips up and move the top of your head near or onto the floor. Your feet should be 3–5 inches apart, with the heels down. Keep pushing your shoulder region down toward the ground. (In many schools of yoga, Downward-Facing Dog is used mainly to stretch and open the hamstrings. In Dharma Yoga, it is used mainly to open the chest and shoulders, and to prepare the arms to move back for advanced poses like Eka Pada Rajakapotasana [One-Legged King Pigeon Pose].)

See also Watch + Learn: Downward-Facing Dog Pose

Standing Forward Bend

forward fold pose, uttanasana

Uttanasana

30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each time

Bring your gaze between your hands. Exhale to jump or step your feet between your hands. Remain here with your chest and thighs together. You can bend your knees to find this connection. If possible, press your forehead gently against your shins to feel a stretch along the length of the spine. After holding, bring the palms together and raise your torso and arms all the way to vertical and then into a standing backbend. Inhale and return to a vertical position, bringing the arms down to your sides in Mountain Pose.

See also VIDEO: Standing Forward Bend 

Rabbit Pose

camel pose, ustrasana

30 seconds, 4–5 breaths, each time

Kneel, tuck your toes under, and bring your hands to your lower back. Arch your back and use your right hand to grab your right ankle, and then the left hand to grab your left ankle. Lift your chest and push your arms toward each other. Drop your head back. Stay absolutely still. After holding, straighten up a little and bring your right and then left hand to your lower back. Place the tops of your feet on the ground, sit back on the heels, and bow forward until your forehead rests on the ground in Balasana (Child’s Pose).

See also 3 Ways to Modify Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Plow Pose

plough pose, halasana

Halasana

3 minutes, 24–30 breaths

Sit up, turn around, and shift your hips over to one side. Swing your legs forward and lie on your back. Stretch your arms on the ground, alongside your head, with your palms facing up. In one long, fluid motion, raise your legs together off the floor, and then your back, until your toes or the tops of your feet rest on the floor beyond your head and arms. Rest in the pose and concentrate on the space between your eyebrows. After holding, bring your arms back alongside your hips, with the palms facing down. Raise your legs up and slowly roll out, returning the back and legs to the ground.

End here with 4 minutes in Savasana
OR, HAVE 10 MORE MINUTES? EXTEND YOUR SEQUENCE WITH THE NEXT 5 POSES