45-Minute Yoga Flows Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 7

Flow for Strength

45 min - Practice


Dana guides us in a spicy strengthening flow with a focus on chaturanga in preparation for arm balances. We also work with kriyas—combining action with breath-work—to generate heat and focus. You will feel strong and challenged.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block (2)


Read Full Transcript

Hi guys, it's great to meet you again on your mat today. Today we have a strengthening flow practice. Ideally you have two blocks, or I'll give you another option if you do not. And today, in addition to vinyasa, we're going to visit a kriya. Now kriya is an old yoga technique that combines action with breath work, pranayama.

Our breath work is called skull shining breath, kapalapati. And I will describe it when we get to that part in the sequence. For now, let's clean up the chaturanga. Chaturanga is the basis of all our arm balances. Arm to your hands and knees, and place your blocks on their second level, a little angled out, shoulder distance apart, just in front of your hands.

Now looking down at my blocks, they look like two surprised eyebrows. If you do not have the blocks, what you'll do instead is hold your plank at least 30 seconds. Otherwise, with my block set up on a slight angle and right in front of my fingertips, I'm going to bring my shoulders down to the support of the block. The blocks are angled such that they angle onto my collarbone, and not just the ends of my shoulders. Now you'll see that my elbows are squeezed in a right angle, and my arms are already in chaturanga.

Then straighten the legs. Stay here, begin your ujjaya breath. Or if you want that strengthening challenge, float one hand alongside the left thigh, and the right hand alongside the right thigh, and breathe. That little shake is good. That's you building strength.

Whether you're in the supported chaturanga, cleaning up that form, or in the plank, stay with it for one more breath, and one more breath out, and then bring the hands down. Lower the knees, walk it in, and come on upright. Now when you take the chaturangas, I'll be reminding you to not go past that 90 degree angle. You lose strength that way. In this case, form equals strength.

Take the blocks to the side of the mat, and in your hands and knees, flip your hands back or to the side, if that's what you have space for today. And we're going to take a cat-cow, warming up those wrists. Breathing in, breathing out. You can add the toes, tucking the toes for a cow. Breathing onto the tops of the feet for angry cat, drawing low abs in, inhale, cow pose, and keep those toes tucked.

Shake out one hand, shake out the other hand, and on the inhale, extend your left leg out. Exhale, knee to nose, inhale, left leg out, exhale, knee to nose, inhale, left leg out. This time, left knee high to the upper left arm, and bend your elbows if you need to to find that shelf. Inhale, lengthen the left leg out. Same, knee to upper left arm.

This time, push up, leaning towards chaturanga arms, inhale, kick that left leg out. Once more, be bold, go a little lower, inhale, lengthen the arms, kick the left leg back, and put the ball of the left foot down onto the mat with a straight left leg. Breathing down, identify your right knee, take a little cat spine, and draw the right knee up towards your nose, and then if you still have the strength here, you can toggle the right knee left and right, breathing in, and breathing out, breathing in, and breathing out. Lower that knee, and the left knee as well. With toes tucked, second side, inhale, extend your right leg out, exhale, bring the knee to the nose, inhale, right leg out, exhale, knee to nose, inhale, right leg out, exhale, right knee high on the upper right arm, you can bend the elbows, lean a little forward, inhale, extend the right leg out, exhale, knee to upper right arm, take a little more risk looking forward, bending the elbows like push up, inhale, extend that right leg behind you, again, knee to upper right arm, maybe go so far as the right angle, inhale, extend the right leg, and place the right foot down onto the mat with a straight right leg.

Breathe in, breathe out, find your left knee, draw your left knee up rounding your spine, and maybe move that knee a little left and right. We want to find the movement of the legs from the guts today, from the core. This time kick that left leg back to a plank pose, first time lower knees, chest and chin. Inhale, bhujangasana, the cobra pose, and exhale back, downward facing dog. Next down dog, walk it out, breathing in, and breathing out.

We'll raise the heels, bend the knees, low belly in, and step or float your feet in between your hands, big toes together, inhale, lengthen your spine, exhale, forward fold. Inhaling lift, bring the arms over your head, ordvahisthasana, exhale, mountain pose, tadasana, with the palms alongside the thighs. Inhale bring the arms up, ordvahisthasana, exhale, uttanasana, forward fold. Inhale, step the left foot back to a low lunge, and exhale, stay. Inhale, lengthen your right leg a little or a lot, and exhale, bend.

Inhaling stretches, inhale, lengthen, exhale, bend, inhale, lengthen. Exhale, bend, inhale, lengthen, exhale, bend, and bring your hands to the inside of the foot, pivoting on the feet into a straddle pose, facing the wide side of your mat. From here spin your left toes out, just enough to bring your left fingertips over towards the left toes, left knee is bent, left thigh is working, and the gaze now will turn forward. This is crouching warrior, draw on the abs, if you feel alright here you can bring the hands to prayer, or extend the arms as if flying. Left arm up, right arm forward, gaze is forward, I often feel like I'm in martial arts, maybe you can get a little lower and have that same sensation, then exhale, walk your way forward into low lunge, inhale, step back, plank pose, now's our opportunity to find the strength in the form, cast off your toes, come only halfway down, if not less, brush those toes back, inhale, pull the heart forward, upward facing dog, exhale, roll over the toes, abs in, and take a downward facing dog, breathing in, and breathing out, inhale, raise heels, bend knees, look, get maybe a little hang time, and bring your feet between your hands, flat back, exhale, forward fold, inhale, rise all the way up to Urdvastasana, mountain pose with the arms at attention alongside the thighs, inhale bring arms up, exhale forward fold, step your right foot back now, warming up the hamstring, inhale lengthen, and exhale bend, inhale lengthen, exhale bend, inhale lengthen, exhale bend, last time lengthen, and bend, walk your hands to your right, spinning towards the long edge of your mat, your feet facing one way, and then spin your right toes out, and bring your hands over towards those right toes, left toes can spin out too, you just want that right leg bent and working, and especially the low right abs to really crawl in here, crouching where the hands can come into prayer, or angling, looking forward, right arm flying up, one more breath, take it into the low lunge, step back plank posture, push off the toes, keep integrity in those arms, inhale upward facing, and exhale downward facing dog, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, and breathing out, today for those journeys forward you can cheat the big toes together and a little closer to the hands, bend the knees, perhaps get a little hang time as you place the feet in between the hands, inhale halfway lift, exhale uttanasana forward fold, next inhale rise, reach, and bring the arms down alongside the thighs, I'm turning so I can face you, and we can revisit a tree pose, bring your right knee in, and take the knee out to the side, and seal the foot around the cup of your calf, or to the inner thigh, what I would love you to focus on here is the pressing of the leg into the foot, so you have a good seal, and maybe you can find the shape later in the arm balances, point the knee forward, and step that foot down, second side, feel free to use your hands drawing in the knee, opening up, the sole of the foot fits nicely to the cup of the shin, or a little higher up, and then press the leg into the foot, as much as you press the foot into the leg, so you have a good seal, hugging to middle, obliques are wrapping in, point the knee forward now, and step the feet hips distance apart, inhale hands to hips, open up, exhale forward fold panangusthasana, bending the knees and holding on to the big toes, inhale come to flat back, and stay, crawl your low belly in, and consider bringing your weight to your right foot enough that you can float the other foot up, the other foot is just off the mat hovering, or you could get curious about bringing the leg out to the side, but make sure the hips don't sit to the side, then place that flying foot down, flat back, low belly in, maybe the other foot hovers, just off the mat, you could play with bringing the leg out to the side, but make sure you don't sit into the hip, keep the hip of the standing leg over the standing ankle, and then bring those feet down, forward fold, take a flat back, and then walk your feet back a little ways on your mat, I'm just turning the face forward, everyone turn those toes out, and bend the knees into full flexion, bring your hips back onto your heels, so you'll see me here in a variation of tiptoe pose, first option is to play with finding the balance with the hands in prayer, or crow posture, lift those knees above the elbows and squeeze in, bring the nose courageously forward, and one foot or both feet will come off the mat, you can work on straightening your arms here, low belly crawling in, and if you want to play with that jump back, you've got to flare those toes like the plume of a crow, draw the low belly in, look forward, think of your chaturanga, chaturanga, take it through your version of vinyasa, whether you took the jump back or not, we're all meeting in the downward facing dog, breathe out, breathe in, and breathe out, inhale lift your right leg up, one time plank, knee to nose, inhale right leg up, and step it forward to the warrior one, right foot to the right thumb and the back heel will spin, inhale rise up to warrior one, and for this sequence we're keeping our arms like strong goalposts as wide as the shoulder, breathing in, then breathing out, breathing in, exhale angle forward to fierce warrior, check me out if you're unsure, I'm in the same angle as the back leg, and I'm not sitting so low that I can sit my hips on the thighs, I'm up where the belly's active, reaching especially through my left fingertips, define those low obliques, hugging in, breathing in, and breathing out, inhale straighten the front leg and turn into star pose, just how it sounds, the arms are long and the toes are out in a star, we're coming into goddess in a moment, but first let me describe the kriya pose, the kriya action, we're going to inhale bring the arms up and on an exhale through the nose and kapalapazi breath, bring the elbows in, next inhale the arms come out and the elbows come out left and right, it's going to look and sound like this, first time 24, listen, observe, and join in as soon as you feel ready, in goddess pose, low and strong, inhale arms up, and we go, eight more, inhale up to your star pose, forward fold into the straddle, breathe in, breathe out, very invigorating, we're going to turn the left toes out of smidge and revisit the crouching warrior, option to bring the arms out and exhale take it forward to low lunge, flatten that left hand, left wrist underneath shoulder and bring the right arm up, side plank, the first of three each side, feel free to bring your right foot halfway back on your mat, stamping the right foot down or stack the feet, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out, inhale right arm comes over your ear towards the front of the mat, look forward, chaturanga, only halfway down, inhale up dog, exhale downward facing dog, breathing in and breathing out, inhale left leg lifts, one time plank, knee to nose, inhale left leg up, exhale warrior one, arms as wide as the shoulders today, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out fierce warrior, from the low low belly scooping up and in, the yogis call this muscular action the flying upward lock, you always need that lock to find the birds, to find the arm balances, to find yourself flying up in yoga, next inhale straighten your front leg and turn into that big star pose, kriya 24 times this side, bring the knees over the ankles, bring the arms up, when you're ready elbows down to begin, straight more, inhale star pose, forward fold, toes spin out just a smidge, bending the right knee, bringing the weight towards that right leg, crouching warrior, wing those arms open if you wish and then take it forward, low lunge, setting up, right wrist underneath the shoulder, bring the left arm up in anticipation of your vashisthasana, side plank, first time maybe left foot comes halfway back, in fact all times you can stay here, be content, build that strength or stack those feet, send the gaze up, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out, next inhale arm over your head, look forward, chaturanga, inhale up dog, down dog and we flow, inhale right leg up, exhale plank, knee to nose, inhale right leg up, exhale warrior one, inhale warrior one, exhale fierce warrior, inhale take it to the star, exhale goddess pose only 16 times, take the kriya, inhale and go, eight more, inhale, exhale fold, take a flat back, left knee bends, crouching warrior, look forward, take it to low lunge, left hand flat, right arm up, side plank, consider bringing the right foot with you and placing the foot anywhere on the inner left leg where you don't have a knee, press the leg into the foot, the foot into the leg, find that contact, inhale right arm comes over your ear, plank, maybe maybe keep the tree, chaturanga with the tree, up dog, normal style, exhale take it back, downward facing dog, breathe in and breathe out, inhale left leg lifts, exhale warrior one, inhale arms up shoulder distance, exhale fierce warrior, inhale spin it to the star, exhale goddess stance, maybe a little lower this time if you've got it in you, inhale bring the arms up 16 times with the kriya, eight more, inhale star pose, exhale forward fold, inhale flat back, bend that back knee, the right knee, draw the belly in and perhaps the hands, option to wing those arms, take it forward low lunge, inhale left arm comes up, side plank, option to take the left foot with you, seal it to the leg, seal the leg to the foot, find that agreement, bring the left arm over the head, take a breath in, plank pose you can keep that tree, chaturanga as well, up dog is traditional, final side, downward facing dog we have one more set each side, keep breathing, make some choices today that are lifting your heart rate no question but you can still breathe through the nose, you're still in your yoga practice, next inhale right leg lifts, exhale plank, knee to nose, inhale right leg up, exhale warrior one, inhale warrior one, exhale fierce warrior, spin off the back heel, option to float it to warrior three, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, float it back, let's meet in warrior one, inhale star pose, final time with a kriya, only eight this time, bring your arms up and begin, inhale star pose and forward fold, inhale flat back, then the left knee bring the hands towards the left toes, option hands to prayer, option to wing open those arms, take a breath in and then this time spin the right toes forward and see if you can find your triangle pose, now it's curious because we usually go high to low in triangle but here we're going low to high, so you have the option of softening your front knee for a moment and playing with finding that right big toe, now normally we wouldn't go for the toe in the triangle and keep the front leg bent but today because we're leading towards taking this foot with us in a variation of vishista you might play with that and see that you can find that handle, that hook of your big toe even if the hamstring is not complying we're coming entirely straight, take another breath in and bring your hand down to the earth, spin off the back heel, you already have that right big toe, you do not need to straighten your leg the first time you try it, roll to the outer seam and maybe keep that big toe with the bent leg, over time when you straighten the leg you straighten it up guys, nice and high, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out, right arm over your ear, vinyasa, final time, final side, bring the left leg up, plank knee to nose, inhale left leg up, warrior one, inhale warrior one, exhale fierce warrior where you can stay and breathe or spin that back heel off the mat, warrior three, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, soften the standing knee and find your warrior one, inhale straighten your left leg, star pose, final time goddess stance, get those knees over the ankles, get low, inhale bring your arms up eight times, inhale star, exhale forward fold, inhale flat back, exhale bend your right knee, the back leg and find that crouching warrior, the belly's in, it's from that center strength that we move these limbs, take it forward, low lunge and now let's play with this concept of going from low to high in the triangle, you're gonna grab that big toe and bring the back heel in and just for kicks, finding that shape of the triangle and that front leg need not straighten today, just for this exercise, seeing if you can open up, hold on to the big toe, riding that shape of a triangle with the toe lock into the body and now let's find it in the balance, setting the right wrist right underneath the shoulder, drawing your little belly in, breathing in, side plank, you need not straighten that leg when you're learning this pose, you're here, you're getting stronger, you're breathing, you're still in your practice, when it straightens, it doesn't straighten to the side, ideally it goes up, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out, float that left arm over your head, vinyasa everybody, and rest, child's pose, ideally draw those knees together, if the knees are okay with it and bring your arms down alongside the body in a traditional ballasana, in this cave of the child's pose, we're pressing into the belly and we're directing the flow of the breath into the low back, where so many of us that are drawn to strength work tend to carry our stress, when we're stressed, the blood, some would say the energy move into our extremities, we begin to live in our extremities, to find strength without force we want to move from the center out, breathing in, and breathing out, breathing in, and breathing out, bring your hands close to your knees, and come on up to sit, I hope you're feeling that strength work, I'm definitely feeling it in the studio here, now let's work on the ekapada kundayasana, ekka means one, pada means foot, and the kundayas part is named for a sage, we're going to come to hands and knees, separate your knees, hips distance apart and tuck your toes, okay, how about you cheat your hands a little forward so this is going to get us into this shape, and I'm going to start with my left leg so you can see me here, I'm rounding like an angry cat and bringing that knee high, and I'm cutting my right elbow in to use it as a shelf, I tip forward, it's a plank and a seesaw, the worst that happens I'll show is that the head comes down to the ground, otherwise, head is up, take it back, I'll turn, so you can see the other side, looking to the side helps, it takes out that natural trepidation about bringing your face close to the earth, come into hands and knees, and note that you're going to need your toes tucked, you're going to need to cast off that back foot, inhale the right leg comes up, maybe a little longer in the stance, bring the knee to the upper right arm, bend the elbows, cut in that left elbow, tip forward, and bring the head down, the worst that happens is the head comes down, the body is otherwise just in a plank, otherwise lift up, and take it back, very nice guys, now the only reason we can go so far like a seesaw is because we're using our elbows like leverage, and the back leg comes up, otherwise, it's just a plank, a plank on that ballast, I'll show once more, hopefully you'll try once more, the right leg comes out, the knee comes in, I'm using my second elbow and casting forward, okay, from there you might even take it back chaturanga, let's come to hands and knees, and I'll turn and we'll look at second side, traditionally you don't use both elbows, but it won't hurt you to use both elbows if that's the way you learn, hands and knees, you might take a little wider stance, this time it's the left leg up, left knee to upper left arm, bend those elbows in, use that right elbow and come forward, casting off the back foot, you might look forward and find a chaturanga, very nice, child's pose, bring your elbows down and just circle your wrists, breathing in and breathing out, bring one hand in front of you and paw that hand with your other hand, gently tractioning your wrists, and release, second side, the other hand comes down, literally give yourself a hand and draw the arms away, coming back to sit on your heels or on a block, just for a moment, hands come to prayer, eyes dim or close and just feel that energy moving through you, strength work can uplift our prana, our energy in yoga, start to contemplate, what do I want to use this strength for this week?

Strength without direction is just force, find a direction and intention, make it positive in the present tense, something along the lines of I am strong for my family, I am strong for my principles, I am strong for my love, and once you found your intention, let's take it into more strength work, bring your hands down, the elbows will be shoulder distance apart, we're off those wrists for now, and I'm using my fingers to measure out how far elbow distance is, how far shoulder distance is, it's about that far, now for this first one dolphin practices, you'll lace your fingers together and tuck your toes, straighten your legs like down dog legs and at first push in a sense into the mat to thread your head through, so this first gesture is really a stretch, and then we'll play with the trust exercise of the dolphin flow, you'll inhale bring your body weight forward and bring your nose over your thumbs, exhale press your way back, inhale come forward and exhale back, if this is working out for you bring your big toes together and lift your left leg up and take a little more risk and get yourself out of it, inhale forward and back, if you're with me on the legs it's the second leg, the right leg comes up, inhale come forward and back, inhale forward and back, lower the right foot, lower the knees and sit back on your heels, placing the hands together in prayer, chasing, following anyway that breath, coming back to your intention I'm strong for, I'm strong at, I'm strong with, and for this second set you're going to choose to stay with those dolphin pulses or you can join me in a forearm pulse instead, the setup for both our groups is the same, the elbows are shoulder distance apart and I'm more or less in the middle of my mat, the hands come forward and the palms come down, the forearms look like skis really they're parallel or the thumbs might touch that's okay it's a Dharma Mitra variation it just depends on what your shoulders like, now the first part whether your hands are in the dolphin lacing or they're in the forearm setup is to find that stretch in the shoulders, bringing the weight back, breathing in and breathing out, breathing in and breathing out, inhale bring your weight forward and the nose hovers over the thumbs, exhale press your way back, once more coming forward and back, if this works out you can bring your big toes together and lift your left leg up, you need not come all the way forward guys just maybe halfway you're looking right between your forearms and then you're taking it back, should you wish to hop you can swing that leg up and bring the right heel in and then take it back, not too goal oriented just feeling it out can I come forward and push into my hands and come out, that's it for this side come down to child's pose or sitting back on your heels, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out, I am strong for, find that intention and setting it up second side, elbow shoulder distance apart, fingers laced for secure dolphin in which case you would not bring your legs up or setting up those arms for forearm stand with the palms like skis, the forearms like skis parallel or perhaps the thumbs are in the palms are flat, you'll tuck the toes and lift up we'll skip the stretch for now and just play with coming forward and seeing that we can get ourselves out of trouble, press into the hands as if saying no to a stranger and bringing the weight back, to take the forearm plank should you choose to do so you bring the weight just a little forward until you're gazing in between your forearms and now bring your right leg up just bopping a little back and forth or lifting that right leg and the left leg to left heel towards the seat and place the left foot down, I love to keep this back like that because it gives you just such a good exit strategy, the floor is right there if you need to come out, if you find your balance stay, move towards center if you go too far forward remember you can always push into those hands to bring yourself back, breathing in and breathing out, final expression the legs will come up straight, it's up to you, just save a little bit of control and focus to bring your way back down, child's pose, hands to prayer, getting small, introspective, focusing in that strength work like a diamond, I am strong for, walk your way upright and flip on your back, let's place the heels close to the hips, ground the low back for a moment even bring one hand to your belly, feel the solidity of the earth underneath you after all that high energy work, then preparing for the bridge pose by bringing your hands close to your heels, if your shoulders are tight you can always hold on to the outside of your mat, set to bandhasana, bringing the hips up and walking your shoulders underneath you, either prying the mat apart as if to tear it into two sides or if you prefer you can lace the fingers and take an extra shoulder stretch, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out, breathing in and come on down, move your knees a little left and right, you can stay with bridge by all means, if you have a wheel practice or working on one you're with me, bringing the hands alongside the ears and the elbows point up, take a breath in, press down to lift up, dig into the heels and bring your heart through your arms, just one wheel today so perhaps rising to the balls of the feet and bringing the heels in even closer, you can make a mantra out of your intention, inhale I am strong, exhale finish that statement twice more, wheelers tuck that chin, slowly make your way down, all of us will bring our low backs on the mat, home at last, place your hands on the thighs, traction your spine, pushing legs away, maybe bringing the feet as wide as your mat and knocking your knees in, just allowing the spine to neutralize after that back extension and then happy baby holding on to the outside of the feet, grounding the low back, first final twist, hug your right knee in and let your left leg slow down long, you'll shift the hips to the side and drop the knee to the other side, great day to take your legs into eagle legs, just to rinse out the low back and a longer twist here, then moving through center, second side, left knee comes in, right leg long, shift your hips to the side and drop your knee to the other side, by all means you can lace those legs together in eagle legs, opening up left arm, letting that left arm fall off and finding a nice stretch across the chest, coming to center, final bit of effort, it's really so we can relax, hugging in the knees, even crossing the shins, toning up the toes, curling up the fingers, drawing in the pelvic floor, even making a face, inhale, inhale, inhale, big sigh, let it go, shavasana, and as I can't let your intention stay in the back of your head, I am strong, for, for you. Sadhana. True name. True name. True name. Wherever I work, wherever I strive, wherever I pray, wherever I love, wherever I laugh, I laugh. True name. Wherever I dream, wherever I sing, wherever I dance, wherever I play, wherever I love, I love my true name. My true name.

Saryama, saryama, saryama, saryama, saryama, saryama, saryama, saryama, saryama, saryama, saryama, true name. Go ahead, start your journey up right. Thumb. Thumb. Clothing in, Om.

Hands to prayer once more. See that intention to yourself. Om. Sat Naam. Stay true. Namaste.


Peter M
It's certainly hits the triceps feeling it the next day certainly a strength class
Dana Slamp
Peter Good deal. 👍💪🏾Keep practicing, Dana
Jenny S
2 people like this.
Holy triceps Batman! 🌶🌶🌶
Dana Slamp
Jenny you’re hilarious! Of course you know you can skip some of those vinyasa & side planks whenever you prefer. Happy practicing! Warmly, Dana
Angela R
2 people like this.
Very nice
Gabriel W
Awesome practise. Really exciting. Thank you
Gabriel W
practice! sorry

Dana Slamp
Aw, so glad it served you Gabiriel. Have a safe and healthy day!
Elfo R
Soo awesome Dana!!Ilove all your classes, this one was also very good:the pace, the variations and all the clear explanations that led me through the more difficult exercices, helping me out of the fear of them. Thank you!
Dana Slamp
Dear Elfo - What great feedback, thank you! Thanks for practicing with me and for trusting the process when it comes to those more challenging shapes.  Wishing you health and safety!
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