Yoga Sequences

Pillars of Power Yoga: A Heat-Building Holiday Detox Sequence

This heat-building sequence with deep squats and advanced variations will turn up your internal temperature and help burn off anything leftover in your system.

In this heat-building sequence, master Baptiste Yoga teacher Leah Cullis, who will lead Yoga Journal’s upcoming online course Pillars of Power Yoga (sign up here to be the first to know when this fitness- and focus-boosting course launches), offers deep squats and advanced variations to turn up your internal temperature and burn off anything leftover in your system.

How to Use this Sequence

Warm Up: Start with 3 rounds each of Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B.
Hold: Stay in each pose for 5 breaths the first time through.
Flow: Once you feel confident with the sequence, try moving through it again at a pace of 1 breath per movement. Repeat this flow 3–5 times to really stoke your inner temp and fuel your detox.
Finish: Take Pigeon Pose on each side, a Seated Forward Bend, and Savasana.

Downward-Facing Dog Pose

Leah Cullis in Downward-Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Ground down through all four corners of your feet and your hands, and root down into the clay of your mat. Downward-Facing Dog opens the shoulders, lengthens the spine, and begins to build heat in the muscles throughout your entire body. Align both feet to point toward 12 o’clock and set your gaze between your ankles as you draw your inner ankles back and root your outer ankles down.

Jump Forward

Leah Cullis advanced Downward-Dog Variation

You can step to the top of your mat or build more heat by practicing the advanced variation, hopping your feet to the outside of your hands. To try it, look forward past your fingertips to see where you are going. Then exhale all your air, bend your knees, and float your hips over your shoulders as you hop feet forward to the outside of your pinkie fingers. Use the lift of your low belly—your abdominal lock—to elevate your hips as you leap forward.

Garland Pose

Leah Cullis in Garland Pose

Malasana

Separate your feet wide enough that both heels are on the ground as you come into Malasana. This may mean lifting your hips high, and that’s OK. Adapt the squat for your body. Then press down into all four corners of your feet to create a solid foundation. Bring your hands to your heart center. Press your triceps into your legs and your legs back into your arms, using the connection to stabilize and soften your tailbone down. Lift your low belly up and in, and reach your chest high to meet your Prayer hands. Use your breath and settle into your seat.

Bear Pose

Leah Cullis in Bear Pose

Press down into the floor as you lift up into your core and elevate your hips in line with your knees. Extend your arms long, away from your hips. Gather your power into your core, lifting your belly up and expanding into your your side ribs and back body. Squeeze your triceps into your ears and press your palms away. Return to Garland Pose on an exhalation.

Mountain Pose variation

Leah Cullis in Mountain Pose

Tadasana

From your squat, keep your feet anchored, power down through your heels and reach your interlaced palms to the sky, as you stand up into a wide-legged Mountain Pose on your inhalation. Hug your thigh muscles to the bones and lift your kneecaps, building heat with your legs. Press your palms up, squeeze your elbows toward your ears, and soften your shoulders. Expand from the inside out.

Modified Crescent Moon to the Right

Leah Cullis in Modified Crescent Moon, lean to the right

On your exhalation, lean your torso to the right. Root your feet down, activate your legs, and lift up into your core. Breathe space into your left side ribs as you lift up out of your hips and lengthen through both sides. Inhale and transition your torso back through center. Anchor down through your feet and expand up through your palms. Lift your low belly. Hug in from skin to muscle to bone.

Modified Crescent Moon to the Left

Leah Cullis in Modified Crescent Moon, lean to the left

Exhale and lean to the left. Zip up your low belly and anchor your tailbone down. Move your upper arm bones back and lift your chest high, as you reach through your palms. Peel open through your right side body as you lengthen.

Mountain Pose variation with Prayer hands

Mountain Pose variation with Prayer hands

Tadasana

Inhale and shift your torso back to center. Press your palms together overhead. Extend the line of energy from your feet up through your fingertips as you lift from the earth to the sky. Hug from the ground up into your core as you breathe in and shine out.

Draw your hands through your heart center and ride your exhale down to the ground, coming back into Garland Pose. Repeat the sequence again, moving into Bear Pose next. Or to build even more heat, move through a vinyasa: plant hands, exhale, and jump or step back to Chaturanga, then move through Upward-Facing Dog and Downward-Facing Dog, before continuing.