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Start your day wide awake and full of life with this backbending sequence.
GO BACK TO17 Poses to Jump-Start Your Day
Come onto your hands and knees, stacking your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Begin to move your spine in a rhythmic motion: With every inhalation, arch your back and lift your sitting bones and chest into Cow; with every exhalation, round your back and tuck your chin and pelvis into Cat.
See alsoCat Pose
See alsoCow Pose
Table Top, variation
From all fours, lift your belly in toward your spine. Extend your right leg and left arm. Bend your right leg and take hold of your foot with your left hand. Kick your foot into your hand as you begin to twist and open your chest into a backbend. Try gazing up. This pose creates heat, challenges your balance, and gently warms up your spine. Repeat on the other side.
See alsoConsciousness in Motion
From Downward-Facing Dog Pose, lift your right leg up high behind you, then round your spine as you draw knee to chest. Keep your pelvis low and round your upper spine toward the sky. Hug your right thigh to your chest and knee to your nose. Keep pressing the floor with your hands. Return to Downward Dog and then repeat with the left leg.
See alsoCore Yoga Poses
From Downward Dog, lift your right leg and arm and pivot on your left foot. Spin your torso and hips open to the ceiling, and lower your right foot down to the inside of your left foot. Reach your right arm toward the wall behind you. Keep your feet parallel to each other, pressing firmly into the floor. Return to Downward Dog and do Flip Dog on the other side.
Side Plank Pose
Un-flip your Dog and roll your heels to the right. Shift your weight into your right hand and the outer edge of your right foot. Stack your left foot on top of your right. Fire up your thigh muscles; press your feet and hand down as you lift your hips. Extend your left arm to the ceiling. (If this is too intense, you can lower your bottom knee to the floor.) Return to Downward Dog and repeat on the left.
See alsoVasisthasana (Side Plank Pose)
Instructions: Practice 5 rounds of the following poses, holding each for 3-5 breaths or 15 seconds. If the pose moves from left to the right side, practice for 15 seconds on each side.
From Downward Dog, lower your hips until your torso is parallel with the floor, shoulders over wrists. Keep your legs and core engaged; press your hands and feet into your mat. Press out through the heels to activate your legs and reach forward with the crown of your head.
See alsoPlank Pose
Four-Limbed Staff Pose
From Plank, shift your weight forward, bend your elbows, and lower halfway down, keeping your elbows by your sides. Press your hands into the floor, push back through your heels, and engage your core. If this is too intense, modify the pose by lowering your knees to the floor.
Upward-Facing Dog Pose
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
From Chaturanga, press your hands and the tops of your feet down, to bring your thigh bones off the floor as you lift your torso. Draw your upper arm bones toward your back to open your heart. Keep your neck long as you gaze up.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Adho Mukha Svanasana
From Upward Dog, roll over the tops of your feet, press into your hands, and lift your hips high. Spread your fingers wide, work to ground through the four corners of each foot, lift your sitting bones to the ceiling, and draw the pit of your belly and low ribs toward your spine.
High Crescent Lunge
From Downward Dog, step your left foot between your hands. Fire up your back leg and soften your pelvis toward the floor, stretching your back hip flexor. Lift the sides of your waist, then lift the front of your pelvis as your tailbone descends. Bring your arms alongside your ears and gaze up. Exhaling, release and switch sides.
See alsoHigh Lunge, Crescent Variation
High Crescent Twist
From High Crescent Lunge with the left foot forward, bring your hands to your heart center and twist your belly and chest to the left. Press your right upper arm into the outside of your outer left thigh. Press your palms together and draw your shoulder blades toward the center of your spine. Turn your gaze upward and smile. Switch sides.
See alsoTwist Poses
Start in a Low Lunge with your right leg forward. Shift your gaze forward and bring your weight onto your fingertips. Squeeze in your low belly for power and lightly hop your left foot forward (shifting your gaze down when it lands), while simultaneously extending the right leg back. Continue this hop-switch action, rapidly alternating legs in a joyful dance that builds your inner fire.
20-24 breaths, 2 minutes
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
From Downward Dog, walk or jump forward and come to sit. Recline on your back and bend your knees with ankles directly under knees. Press the four corners of each foot down and lift your hips as high as you can. Clasp your hands together and press your upper arms down as you lift your chest.
5-6 breaths, 30 seconds; repeat 3 times
Upward Bow Pose
Bring your hands alongside your ears, palms down, fingers facing your feet. Press your hands and feet down as you lift your hips and torso up. Straighten your arms and relax your head down. Breathe into your upper chest, open your heart, and shine! If you’re not comfortable practicing Upward Bow, practice Bridge again.
5-6 breaths; 30 seconds; repeat 3 times
Supta Baddha Konasana
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your thighs to drop toward the floor in a gentle hip opening. Place your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your low belly. Close your eyes and let your belly expand as you inhale; sink as you exhale. Breathe in new life for the day ahead.
20-24 breaths, 2 minutes
Happy Baby Pose
Take hold of the outer edges of your feet and gently draw your knees toward your armpits, trying to keep your ankles stacked over your knees. Release your sacrum onto the floor and rock gently from side to side, playing and experiencing an inner lightness.
20-24 breaths, 2 minutes
Release your feet and extend your legs on the floor, letting them relax. Release your arms by your sides, allowing them to rest on the floor, palms up. Let yourself expand and take up a lot of space in this final resting pose. Release all your muscles and let the power of your practice sink into your body.
Breathe freely, 4 minutes
See alsoSavasana (Corpse Pose)