Consider the Forearm Scorpion pose: It requires shoulder and arm strength, spinal mobility, and stability—but it also helps you strengthen the mind-body connection that you hope to achieve during a flow. “It forces you to find stillness because if your mind wavers for even a second, you’ll fall out of it,” says April Falcon, group fitness instructor at Equinox locations in Chicago who teaches yoga.
The below flow, devised by Falcon, will help you master Forearm Scorpion, in part by strengthening the upper body and hamstrings. It will also open the chest, which is increasingly important as people spend more time hunched over devices. Speaking of poor posture, all the poses in this sequence bolster the muscles needed to improve it.
Falcon’s flow is progressive; the poses increase in difficulty from beginning to end. That said, it’s meant for yogis of all levels.
If you need to stop short of Forearm Scorpion, hold as many poses as you can and close your flow with Child’s Pose or Savasana. (If you're a beginner, consider working on the advanced poses under the supervision of a certified yoga teacher.)
First, warm up with 10 full breaths in Cat/Cow, 5 to 7 in Low Cobra, and 5 in Downward Dog. Finish with 5 Sun Salutations, then start the sequence below. Complete deep, mindful breaths throughout, Falcon says.
Do it 2 to 3 times per week; every few weeks, try to add the next pose until you’ve mastered all nine. Since this flow includes several stimulating backbends, it's best done in the morning or mid-afternoon, but not before bed.
Note: The breath and rep recommendations below are the minimum you should perform, but you are welcome to hold for longer or to complete more reps.
Start in a half-kneeling position with the left leg forward, foot planted, and the right leg back, knee down. Shift the right knee back so your hips drop. Hold here for 3 to 5 breaths. Then, bend the right knee, grab the right foot with your left hand, and pull the foot toward your glutes. (If needed, plant your right hand on the mat for support.) You should feel a stretch in the right quad. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, then switch sides and repeat.
From Low Lunge, lie facedown with elbows bent by your sides and palms firmly planted under your shoulders. Extend your arms to lift your upper body. Press the tops of your feet into the mat and raise your legs off the mat. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, then assume Child’s pose or Downward Dog to re-lengthen your spine. Complete 5 rounds.
From Upward-Facing Dog, lie facedown with arms by your sides, palms down, and legs extended and pressed together. Simultaneously lift your chest, arms, and legs off the mat, keeping arms parallel to the floor. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, then release. Complete 3 reps.
From Locust, lie facedown and assume Low Cobra pose, resting on your forearms with chest lifted and legs extended. Bend the left knee and press your left foot into your left glute with your left hand. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, then switch sides and repeat. Complete 3 rounds. Maintain a forward gaze and neutral neck throughout.
From Half Frog, get on all fours with shoulders stacked over wrists and hips over knees. Without shifting your hips, slowly walk your hands forward to lower your arms, chin, and chest to the mat. Hold for 5 breaths.
From Puppy Dog, lie faceup on your mat with legs bent and feet planted on the floor at hip-width. Place your palms on the mat on either side of your head, with elbows up and fingers pointing toward your feet. Press through both palms to assume Wheel, then lower onto your forearms with your head hovering above the mat. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, then release. Complete 3 reps.
From Forearm Wheel, flip over and hold a plank with shoulders stacked over elbows, maintaining a straight line from head to feet. Hold for 10 breaths.
From Forearm Plank, rest your palms on the mat and lift your hips so your body forms an inverted V. Slowly walk your feet as close to your elbows as you can while maintaining a straight line from head to hips and from hips to feet. Shift your weight forward slightly and lift the right leg as high as you can without bending at the knee, keeping foot flexed. Hold here for 5 breaths, then switch sides and repeat. Complete 3 reps.
From Single-Leg Dolphin, push off the ball of the planted foot in a controlled manner until your body forms a straight line from elbows to feet. Point your toes, squeeze your legs together, engage your core, and gaze at the mat to center you. (If needed, do this pose with the front of your body close to a wall for added support.) Hold for as long as possible, then lower and rest in Child’s pose until you feel recovered. Complete 3 to 5 reps.
From Forearm Balance, press firmly into the mat with your forearms, bend the knees, and slowly reach your toes towards your head. Hold for as long as possible, then release and rest in Child’s pose until you feel recovered. Complete 2 to 3 reps.
Photography by Mohamed Sadek