Anielka Azarian (AKA Pretzel Girl) is an Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga instructor who, like you, thought yoga was all relaxed poses and stretching. Today she’s here to show prove that theory wrong with some heart pumping poses. Follow along as she shares her favorite calorie-buring yoga moves in our July collection.
One of the many reasons I love yoga is because it exercises my mind and keeps my body healthy and strong. You will not only live a more relaxed life, but your favorite pair of jeans will also look really good on you. (I swear!)
These five poses will have you panting in no time, but before you start, I encourage you to warm up with at least three Sun Salutations A and three Sun Salutations B—these sequences will awaken and stretch all your body’s muscles.
1. Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
From Warrior II, place your right forearm on your right thigh and reach up and forward with your left arm. Creating a long line from left ankle to left fingers. Draw your ribs in, lengthen your spine and keep reaching forward. Gaze follows your left fingers.
If you want a deeper stretch bring your right hand down to the floor outside of your right foot. Hold for five deep breaths. Return to Warrior II and repeat on your left side.
2. Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
Step to the top of your mat and find your Tadasana (standing) pose. Inhale and shift your weight to your right foot. With your exhale, bend/squat down with your right leg and bring your left leg across your right thigh. Left toes point down and top of the toes hook behind your right lower calf.
Bring your left arm above your right arm and bend both elbows. Both hands are parallel to your face. If possible, press both palms together. Breathe in, lift your elbows up and bring your chest up to get rid of the curve in your spine. Sit lower with each breath out. Gaze up to tip of thumbs. Hold for 5-10 deep breaths. Unwind the legs and arms and repeat on the other side.
3. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
From Warrior I, press your weight into your right foot. Keep both arms up above your head, palms facing each other. Shoulders down and relaxed. Keeping a long spine, lower your torso down and lift your left leg up behind you. Lengthen your full body forming a long line from left toes to fingertips.
Keep both hips and chest parallel to the mat. Legs are actively engaged and Uddiyana Bandha (contraction of the abdomen into the rib cage) locked. Gaze at the floor in front of your mat.
Hold the pose for 10 calm and steady breaths. On your last exhale, lower your back foot back to the mat and mindfully release the pose. Repeat on the other side.
4. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Stand in Tadasana pose with your toes together and heels slightly apart. With an inhale reach both hands over head. Put palms together if possible. If not, separate them and bring the pinkies in. Tilt your gaze to your hands. With a breath out, bend your knees to a squat pretending there’s a chair to sit on behind you. “Sit on the chair” with your back upright, externally rotate the shoulders, draw your tailbone down to the floor, tuck your pelvis in and keep your lower back long. I know it’s a lot going on but don’t forget to engage your Mula and Uddiyana Bandhas!
Stay in the pose for 10 smooth breaths or one minute. With each inhale, lift your heart and bring the hips lower one breath out at the time.
5. Boat Pose (Navasana)
Sit on the floor with legs in front of you. Place your hands behind your back with the fingers facing forward to support your back. Bend your knees and place your feet closer to your hips.
Keeping a long spine, take a deep breath in and lean back, balancing on your sacrum. Exhale and raise your legs off the floor. If accessible, slowly straighten your knees to a 45-degree angle. Arms reach out towards your feet. If this doesn’t feel right and you are curving your back, keep your hands down behind your back or hold the back of your thighs. Send your heart up with each inhalation and raise your legs higher with your exhalation. Keep your gaze to your toes in front of you.
Stay for 10 deep and calm breaths. To release the pose, exhale as you lower your legs and hands to the floor.
Make sure you close your practice with a restorative posture (legs up the wall, Supta Baddha Konasana or Child’s Pose) to help you calm and reset your mind and body. Don’t forget to reward yourself with at least a ten minute Savasana (corpse pose).
If you have further questions or want to say hi please follow me on Instagram @pretzel.girl or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Life is beautiful and so are you. Namaste friends!