Build Strength And Mobility With This Full-Body Yoga Workout

Two men perform upward-facing dog in a living room
Upward-facing dog features in this full-body yoga flow (Image credit: Jessie Casson / Getty Images)

Think you need a stacked weights rack to enjoy a full-blooded full-body workout? Think again. This yoga-inspired bodyweight circuit from Daniel Moheb Choucri, trainer, presenter and assessor for Les Mills, will strengthen your body from head to toe, while delivering bonus benefits of improved flexibility, mobility and joint stability.

The workout is adapted from the global fitness company’s trademark BodyBalance class, harnessing slow tempos, isometric holds and a continuous flow of exercises that can be repeated and tweaked to suit all abilities and experience levels. 

“This full-body flow is simple but incredibly effective,” says Choucri. “It’s a superb way to activate every muscle in the body while developing deep core strength, shoulder stability, spinal flexion and extension and challenging the much-neglected postural muscles of your back.” 

Given the circuit draws on the fundamentals of yoga, matching inhalations and exhalations with precise movements of the joints and muscles, it should help alleviate aches and pains while unlocking areas of tightness as you flow, stretch, breathe and unwind.

How To Do This Full-Body Yoga Workout

There are seven phases that make up this full yoga-inspired workout. Here Choucri has broken down each section, describing how to move into position, how long to hold each pose and how to transition into the next movement. 

“Take your time to not only practice and perform each stage of this sequence, but also feel every stage as well,” he says. “Work smoothly and precisely. The more smoothly the activity is performed, the better the results will be.” 

Once you’re feeling confident with each element, you can then knit the movements together to create one continuous flowing sequence. “Play with the holds and timings of each stage as you get more comfortable, challenging your range of motion, your core strength and your stamina, to keep progressing,” Choucri says.

Les Mills has a BodyBalance tutorial on YouTube which demonstrates the moves below as well as other positions used in the class. 

Choucri says this flow can be performed morning, noon and night to open the mind, invigorate the body, and refresh the senses. Repeat it as many times as your strength, stability and flexibility require. 

1 Extended mountain

Breathe in through your nose. Lift your arms above your head. Press your palms together if shoulder mobility allows. Brace your abdominals gently. Slide your shoulder blades down to release tension in your neck. Keep looking forward. Complete this series of movements just once to initiate the flow.

2 Forward fold

As you exhale, bend your knees and fold your body from the waist, bracing your abs strongly. Place your fingers or palms on the floor, bending your knees as much as required. Breathe through your nose at a steady rate and hold this position for 30-60 seconds.

3 Downward-facing dog

Place your palms on the floor outside your feet and take a big step back with one foot into a lunge position, keeping your front knee over your ankle. Step your opposite foot back and place it so your feet are hip-width apart. Brace your abs and lift your hips to create an upside-down V-shape with your body. Tuck your chin into your chest to protect your neck. Bend your knees slightly, and press your chest towards your thighs to activate the spinal extensors running down your back. Hold this position for 60 seconds.

4 Roll-out into plank and reset into down dog

Maintaining the position of your hands and feet, and keeping your chin tucked into your chest, round your upper back and shift your body forward to finish in a straight-arm plank, with your shoulders over your hands and your body in a straight line from head to heels. Brace your abs strongly and push the floor away powerfully to activate your chest and create space in your upper back. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then lift your hips to reset into the downward-facing dog position. Repeat 10 times in total.

5 Crocodile into triceps press-up into plank 

From the top of the straight-arm plank position, lower your knees to the floor. Brace your abs strongly, tuck your chin into your chest and bend your elbows to slowly lower your body to elbow height. Draw your shoulder blades back and down to maintain scapula stability. Keeping your abs engaged and elbows tucked tight into your ribs throughout, press the floor away to return to the plank position on your knees. Repeat for 10 reps. If your upper-body and core strength allows, perform this move without lowering onto your knees at the start.

6 Baby cobra / upward-facing dog

From the kneeling variation of the crocodile pose, tuck your chin into your chest and lower your body to the floor. Draw your shoulder blades back and down and squeeze your glutes.

Pressing through your hands, slowly lift your chest, bracing your abs strongly. Hold this baby cobra position for 30 seconds, then return to kneeling crocodile pose. Repeat 10 times in total.

If your upper-body and core strength allows, try upward-facing dog instead. From the full crocodile pose, with your knees off the floor, tuck your chin into your chest and lower your body to just above the floor. Go from your toes to pressing the tops of your feet into the floor, one at a time. Press your hands and feet into the floor as you extend your arms and lift your torso, squeezing your glutes, quads, triceps and abs strongly. Your knees and thighs should be just off the floor. Hold this upward-facing dog position for 30 seconds. Return to the starting position of the full crocodile with knees off the floor. Repeat 10 times in total.

7 Reset downward-facing dog into forward fold into extended mountain

From the final rep of the baby cobra or upward-facing dog, lift your hips to return to the downward-facing dog position. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and feet hip-width apart and brace your abs. Hold the downward-facing dog for 30 seconds. Step your feet forward to your hands and bend your knees, finishing in the forward fold position. Hold for 30 seconds. Brace your abs and squeeze your glutes as you gently and slowly roll back up into the mountain pose to reset the whole flow sequence.

Sam Rider

Sam Rider is an experienced freelance journalist, specialising in health, fitness and wellness. For over a decade he's reported on Olympic Games, CrossFit Games and World Cups, and quizzed luminaries of elite sport, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Sam is also a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer, online coach and founder of Your Daily Fix. Sam is also Coach’s designated reviewer of massage guns and fitness mirrors.