Yoga HIIT Workout

Photo by David Volkmann Photography / Hair & Makeup: Janeen Jones

Interval training is a fat and calorie scorcher!  It combines exercises that utilize bursts of high intensity moves interspersed with lower intensity rest or recovery periods.  There is quite a bit of room for creativity in Interval Training for any level of fitness and any fitness style.  The benefits of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) not only include burning calories at a higher rate during and after your workout but can improve endurance and the ability for your muscles to consume oxygen (VO2 Max) and is heart healthy.  With so many positives, it seemed only natural that HIIT would find its way onto the yoga mat.

I asked Lisa Mignosa, RYT, Meditation, NASM group trainer, AAFA group trainer, Black Belt in Tae-Kwon-Do, Certified Fitness and Nutrition professional, and yoga instructor at The Yoga Lounge to share a quick and effective HIIT yoga style workout that would help blend the benefits of both worlds!  Mignosa explained that she began to incorporate HITT training to some of her yoga classes and that her students loved the changeup and challenges this brought to their traditional yoga practice.

Mignosa shares this exciting and effective blended HIIT workout and recommends using a timing of 20 seconds on followed by a 10 second isometric/static hold:

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  •         Yoga Burpees:  Begin in Chair Pose with your feet hip distance apart. Jump out or step into a plank (top of a push-up).  Hop or step back to the top of your mat in chair pose. Do this for 20 seconds followed by a 10 second isometric hold in chair position.  Repeat entire cycle three times.

Pro tip:  Be certain that your knees stay aligned over your ankles and tuck your tailbone underneath you to protect your lower back.

  •         Crescent Lunge with a twist (and not the twist you yogis are thinking!):  Start in a Crescent Lunge (Lunge position, bend your front knee to a 90 degree angle, front knee over your ankle, feet hip distance apart, both feet facing forward with your back heel lifted over your toes).  Place yours hands down to each side of your feet, perform two mountain climbers and then rise back up to the Crescent Lunge position.  Rising back on the same leg.  Do two rounds on each leg for 20 seconds.  Hold the Isometric High Lunge for 10 seconds.

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Pro tip:  During the High Lunge lift the heel of your back foot so the ball of that foot is under your ankle and press your palms fully into the floor and pull your belly inwards when performing the Mountain Climbers.

  •         Spiders (aka Forearm Plank to High Plank:  Start in a standard Plank Pose with elbows fully extended.  Lower one arm followed by the other into a Forearm Plank, and then return to the high plan position by pressing on one hand and then the other.   Do this for 20 seconds then hold position in an isometric plank for 10 seconds for three rounds.

Pro tip:  Be sure your palms are aligned beneath your shoulders while in plank position and your hips should be aligned with your shoulder height.  Avoid sagging like a banana by pulling your belly inward and upwards during the moves.  When transitioning to Forearm Plank be you’re your elbows are in line with your shoulders.

  •         Single Leg Yoga Squats:  Begin by standing in Stork Pose (Stand and bring one knee, bent up to hip height, with your knee and ankle aligned), begin to kick the bent leg behind you, as you bend the grounded leg, making the same shape with both legs and return to Stork Pose with your knee lifted at hip height at the beginning of the move.  Do this 2 times on each side, followed by an Isometric Stork hold for 10 seconds.

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Pro tip: In Stork Pose, flex the flying foot, keep your knee in line with your hip and keep your ankle in line with knee.  As you send the leg back, the hips slightly move back as well.  When returning to Stork Pose, be sure you are lifting the grounded leg from the knee cap.

  •         Plié Squat:  Plié Pulses (aka Horse Stance) begin with your toes slightly turned outward and lower yourself down far enough so that your knees are in line with your ankles.  Begin with small pulses with the lowest point of your stance being at your starting position. Do these small pulses for 20 seconds followed by an isometric hold in stance while you lift both heels off the ground and hold for 10 seconds for 3 rounds.

Pro tip: In the lowest stance, tuck your tailbone underneath you, keep your shoulders over your hips, and maintain a nice long spine. Your knees should have an external rotation outward.

  •         Boat Pose Rolls:  Start in Boat Pose (sit on your mat and bring your knees in to align with your hips and knees in line with your ankles, with your arms reaching forward or lightly behind your thighs).  Stay in this shape, roll backwards while maintaining this shape to the back of the mat, then rolling up to the seated start position. Do this for 20 seconds, followed by an isometric hold of Boat Pose for 10 seconds for 3 rounds.

Pro tip:  Your chest stays lifted at the starting position.  Try to stay in the same form just roll back and forth, pausing at the top with your feet still lifted in Boat Pose.  Maintain a firm core, while you are rolling up and while you pause.

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  •         Bridge With a Crunch:   Begin in Bridge Pose with feet hip distance apart, Begin in Bridge Pose with feet hip distance apart, with your feet flat on the ground and toes pointing inwards. Press into your feet to lift hips up off the ground as knees magnify forward.  Lower yourself down and crunch as arms reach forward and knees come in towards your chest.  Do this for 20 seconds, followed by holding the isometric Bridge Pose for 10 seconds.  Repeat for 3 rounds.

Pro tip:  Mix it up by using a yoga block in between your upper thighs.  Press into your feet while lifting in Bridge Pose. While crunching, press lower back into the mat and reach with arms while leaving tailbone down as you crunch up.

This routine with all its benefits will leave you wanting to HIIT the yoga mat regularly!