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Master Baptiste Yoga teacher Leah Cullis, who leads YJ’s online course Pillars of Power Yoga, demonstrates the following “Twist and Flow” sequence, which will fire up your core and unlock your inner power.
The core is the power center within the body, and core strength impacts every pose. Powerful abdominal muscles help to create more ease and efficiency in your movements and transitions both on and off the mat. This twisting flow sequence will help you get deep into your core to unlock power, strength, and lightness. Bonus: Twisting poses also rinse the body and vital organs of toxins and excess.
Generate ujjayi breath to set the rhythm for your twisting flow. I recommend holding each pose for five breaths the first time through as you explore each pose. To build even more heat and flow, move through the sequence two or three more times at one breath per movement. Before you begin this sequence, warm up with at least 3 rounds of Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B. After you complete the sequence, I recommend finishing with 10 breaths in Half Pigeon on each side, a Seated Forward Bend, and a supine twist on each side.
Three-Legged Dog Pose
Start in Downward-Facing Dog, and on your inhale, lift your right leg up and back. Move from your core strength, and firm your leg muscles to the bone so your leg is high, straight, and strong. Align both hip bones toward the ground, flex your lifted foot, and turn all five toes to face the mat. Lengthen from your right wrist through your right heel.
Ride your exhale forward into a Plank variation, touching your right knee to your left tricep. Engage your low belly and lift your knee high as you connect to your left arm.
Side Plank with Extended Leg
Root down through your right hand and spin your left heel and inner arch to the mat. Inhale, lift your left arm toward the sky, keeping your core engaged and right leg lifted. Press your tailbone toward your heels, and hug the pit of your belly up and in. Kick your right heel straight out from your hip and spread your toes. To modify, you can either keep your right knee bent or place the pinkie edge of your right foot on the ground. With an exhale, plant your left hand to the top of your mat, bend your right knee and hug it into your chest to recenter in Side Plank variation.
Side Plank with Tree Legs
Ground down through your left hand, and turn the outer edge of your left foot to the mat. Inhale, open your right arm up to the sky, and press your right foot to your inner left thigh, creating Tree legs. Flex both feet, press down into your mat, and arc your hips high.
Exhale, plant your right hand to the top of your mat, bend your right knee into your nose, and lift your low belly.
From your core strength, step your right foot to your right thumb. Root down through all four corners of your right foot, and hug your outer shins in toward your centerline. Inhale, lift your chest and arms high into Crescent Lunge. Stack your left heel over the ball of your back foot and firm your leg muscles to the bones. Hug your inner thighs toward one another, square both hips to the front of the mat, and draw in toward your centerline.
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Unite your hands at heart center. Exhale and twist, hooking your opposite left arm or elbow over your right thigh. Continue to ride your breath, lengthening as you inhale, twisting as you exhale. Press your outer shins in to stabilize your foundation.
Inhale, return to Crescent Lunge and recenter. Anchor your tailbone down and lift the pit of your belly in and up. From the floor to your core, lift up, and from your core to the floor, ground down.
Mountain Pose variation
Root down through your right standing foot and lift your low belly. On your exhale, lift your left knee up toward your chest (arms are lifted overhead). Squeeze your inner thighs toward your centerline and flex your lifted foot.
Note: As you move one breath per movement, you’ll use your exhale to catch your left foot to prepare for the next pose.
Twisting Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Catch the pinkie edge of your left foot with your right hand. Stabilize your center and pull your belly button in and up. Inhale, extend your left heel forward and your left arm toward the back of your mat, and twist. Draw your upper arm bones onto your back and broaden across your chest. Lift up through your crown as you expand out in all directions.
Move from your core strength, release your lifted leg and on your exhale, step your left foot to the back of your mat. Plant both hands at the top of your mat and stabilize, hug your outer shins in and scissor your inner thighs. With your inhale, lift your right arm high to twist. Exhale, place your right hand to the mat, and return to Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat the whole sequence on the left side.
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