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Master Baptiste Yoga teacher Leah Cullis, who leads YJ’s upcoming online course Pillars of Power Yoga, created this advanced core-strengthening sequence with Leap Frog hops—the perfect pick-me-up for a blah day.
Inversions can help you get out of your head and into your body, and they’re also really fun and empowering. In this core-strengthening sequence, we’ll build up to Leap Frog hops (sometimes called Donkey Kicks)—a great fix for those days when you’re feeling just a little too serious.
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. Generate ujjayi breath to set the pace for your practice.
Core Warm-Up: Downward-Facing Dog Splits
Come to Downward-Facing Dog and root down through your knuckles to create your foundation. On your inhale, sweep your right leg up and back into a Downward-Facing Dog Split. Align both hipbones toward the ground, and turn all five toes to face the mat. Lengthen from your right wrist through your right heel.
On your exhale, shift forward and touch your right knee to your right tricep. Engage your low belly and lift your knee high up toward your armpit. With your inhale, press your right leg up and back to return to a Downward-Facing Dog Split. As you exhale, shift forward and cross your right knee to your left elbow. Lift your belly and squeeze your obliques. Inhale, extend and press back to a Downward-Facing Dog Split, lifting your right leg high. On your exhalation, draw your knee forward toward your nose, curling your upper back. Inhale, return to a Downward-Facing Dog split, and lower your right foot down. Switch to your left side, and then repeat for a second set on each side.
Boat Pose, modified
Paripurna Navasana, modified
Come to a seat in the middle of your mat with your knees bent and feet on the mat in front of you. Balance on your seat, reach your hands behind your knees, and lift your heels up to knee level. Activate your feet, press the inner arches together, and spread your toes. Draw your upper arm bones back and broaden across your chest. Engage your low belly and lift your heart high. Hold for 5 breaths.
Boat Pose Variation—Leap Frog Legs
Continue to balance on your seat, place your hands on the mat behind your hips, and press up onto your finger pads. Draw your elbows back and hug your shoulder blades toward your spine line. Engage your low belly and lift your chest up and open. Keep the inner arches of your feet pressing together to ignite the energetic line from your feet up into your core, and separate your knees wide to create Crow legs. Draw the pinkie edges of your feet toward your face, press your big toe mounds away, and spread your toes. Stay steady, and hold for 10 breaths.
Continue to generate the heat from your low belly and the lift of your chest and legs, and stay in a tight Boat Pose variation. Now lift your hands off the ground, extend your arms forward, connect your triceps to your knees, and come into seated Crow. Hold for 5 breaths. Use this core activation as we build the same poses on the hands.
Cross your ankles, roll over your feet, plant your hands to the top of your mat and create a short Downward-Facing Dog to prepare for Crow Pose. Bend your elbows, walk your knees up high against the backs of your arms bones, keeping your tail high. Look forward in front of your fingers as you shift your weight into your arms and start to lift your feet. Press the inner arches of your feet together and ignite the power line up to your core. Hold for 5–10 breaths. Shoot back to Chaturanga, then move through Upward-Facing Dog and Downward-Facing Dog, or step back to Downward-Facing Dog.
Leap Frog Hops
Walk halfway up your mat and come into a short Downward-Facing Dog. Step your feet together connecting your inner arches, lift your heels, and separate your knees wide. Keep this connection at your feet to access your core power and total body integration. Lift your your seat high and look forward past your fingers to set your drishti (gaze). With your exhale, hop your hips up over your shoulders. Maintain a water-like quality through your pelvis as you hop, and have fun! Repeat 10 times. Note: To build strength and confidence, you can practice these close to a wall.
Bonus: From your Leap Frog hop, shoot your legs to the back of your mat to land in Chaturanga, then move through Upward-Facing Dog and Downward-Facing Dog.