20-minute workout, yoga

20-Minute Workout: Yin Yoga

This series from Pure Yoga’s Kate Kuss focuses on fascia.

While you can carve a tantalizingly toned body in less than a half hour, we’re here to tell you what you already know: To reap the rewards—increased calorie burn, strength, power, blissful endorphin high—truncated workouts must be insanely intense. So we asked a team of Equinox trainers and group fitness instructors what they would do if they were given just 20 minutes to have at it. Here is the latest in the series:

The Pro: Kate Kuss, yoga instructor, Pure Yoga New York City

The Workout: Yin Yoga is a practice that targets connective tissue and fascia in the body. This style of yoga tends to hold seated poses anywhere between 2 to 6 minutes in order to feel a long, slow and deep sensation in the body. “It’s a great practice for anyone who feels tight from working out, sitting at desk, or from the stress caused by everyday life,” says Kuss.

Here is a 20-minute practice that will get some fresh blood into your tissues and release that unnecessary tightness and tension. Try to breathe all the way down into the belly and remember to breathe deep.

Neck stretch: Find a comfortable seat and let your legs be heavy so they are moving towards the ground. Relax shoulders and bring hands to the floor right next to your hips. Drop your right ear towards the right shoulder. Take deep inhales and deep exhales. The left side of your neck is getting a great stretch. Hold for 2 minutes and then switch sides.

Butterfly: From a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together and then slide your feet away from you. Allowing your back to round, fold forward, lightly resting your hands on your feet or on the ground. Allow your head to hang down toward your heels. Find the right intensity by drawing the heels closer or further away from your body. Hold for 3 minutes.

Toe Stretch: Start by sitting on your heels with your feet together. Tuck your toes under (even the pinky toes) and stay on the balls of the feet. If the pressure is too intense, bring forearms onto the ground. If you can handle a deeper stretch, bring your hands behind you on the floor. Hold for 1 minute.

Ankle Stretch: Coming out of Toe Stretch, come onto the tops of your feet. Walk hands back and gently lean body back as if trying to lift the shins and/or knees off the ground. Feel a stretch on the tops of the feet/ankles. Keep chin in towards chest. Hold for 1 minute.

Square: This pose is sometimes called double pigeon. Take your time getting into this pose. You will feel a lengthening sensation in the outer hips. Start in a seated posture with legs crossed. Bring the left ankle on top of the right knee and try to move your feet forward until your shins are parallel. If this is too much, just straighten the bottom leg. Fold forward and breathe. If this bothers your knees at all, lay on your back and do the pose known as threading the needle. Hold for 3 minutes.

When finished, come up slowly, shake out legs and then bring the right ankle on top of left knee. Set yourself up the same way you did on the other side. Hold for 3 minutes. 

Pentacle: Similar to Savasana or corpse pose, lay on your back. Put your body in the shape of an X so arms above the head and out to the side. Bring your legs as wide apart as comfortable. Close your eyes and feel any shifts of energy happening in your body. As you lay in Pentacle, become the observer of your breath and energy that is traveling through you. Once you feel comfortable, bring your breath down to the belly and take deep breaths in the belly. Let the belly rise on an inhale and let the belly fall on the exhale. Set your timer for 5 minutes and just relax.