At Home Yoga Workout with Sarai Harvey-Smith

Practising yoga since her teens, Sarai Harvey-Smith has been teaching yoga in London for over 10 years. A Senior Teacher with Yoga Alliance (UK), she is known for her known for her focus on breath, alignment and technique within her dynamic yoga classes, and currently teaches at Triyoga, Yogaloft, and privately.

To help us on our way to a fitter, healthier 2015, Sarai has created for StyleNest a sequence of key yoga poses, simple enough for us to practise at home. Promising us that it would get us feeling “strong, healthy and energised after the festive season’s indulgence, this sequence will also tone and strengthen the legs, hips, back muscles and abdominals, as well as opening up the chest, shoulders, hips and hamstrings. The seated pose at the end also has a simple breathing technique which will soothe and calm the nervous system.”

Sarai has designed the sequence to be done in just 15 minutes, but it can be increased to a more challenging 30 minutes if postures are repeated and held for longer.

1. Triangle Pose

Strengthens the legs, increases flexibility in legs and hips, relieves backache and develops openness in the chest

  • Stand in the middle of your mat, step feet 2-3 feet apart and turn your left foot and leg in 30 degrees and the right foot and leg out 90 degrees.
  • Spread your toes, lift up through your knee caps and thighs, keep the right leg outwardly rotating
  • Spread arms wide and tilt the pelvis to the right, lengthen through the waist and take your right hand to right shin. Lift left arm straight up
  • Keep moving left shoulder back and turn chest towards the ceiling
  • Keep the tailbone moving into the body and thighs pressing back
  • Hold for 8 -15 breaths
  • Come up, step the feet back together, and repeat on the left side

Triangle 2. Warrior 2 Pose

Strengthens the legs, arms and back, opens the hips and tones the abdominal organs

  • Stand with feet together in the middle of your mat. Step feet 2-3 feet apart and turn left foot and leg in 30 degrees and the right foot and leg out 90 degrees
  • Stretch arms out at shoulder height, release shoulders down and lift the chest
  • Bend right knee, outwardly rotating thigh bone till knee is over ankle.       Work towards having thigh parallel to the floor and at a right angle to the shin
  • Look to the right hand
  • Hold for 8-15 breaths
  • Step the feet back together, and repeat on left side

Warrior3. Low Lunge Pose

Tones and increases flexibility in the legs and hips, opens shoulders and chest and helps deepen breathing

  • Stand at the front of your mat with feet together. Step left foot back and lower knee to the ground
  • Place hands on hips and lift the chest
  • Press tailbone down and lift pubic abdomen and rib cage up
  • Reach arms up, keeping arms straight (hands apart if stiff in the shoulders)
  • Hold for 8 – 15 breaths, then repeat on left side

Low lunge4. Boat Pose

Strengthens abdominals, back muscles, and legs, cultivates balance and concentration

  • Sit with knees bent, hands holding backs of thighs, and straighten spine
  • Lean back still holding backs of thighs and keeping spine straight and chest open
  • Lift feet off mat, keeping spine straight, and keep knees bent – this is stage 1
  • Straighten legs, keeping spine straight, chest open – stage 2
  • Straighten arms, keeping them parallel to the floor – final stage
  • Hold for 8 – 15 breaths
  • Repeat 5 times, resting with crossed legs in between

Boat5. Both Big Toes Pose

Strengthens abdominals, back muscles, and legs. Cultivates balance and flexibility, and relieves backache

  • Sit with knees bent and straight spine
  • Firmly grip big toes with first two fingers, making rest of fingers into a fist
  • Lean back, balance on buttocks and let feet come off the floor, keeping the grip on the toes
  • Straighten spine, lift chest
  • Slowly straighten legs
  • Take shoulders back and down
  • When balanced, look upwards
  • Hold for 8- 15 breaths, rest, then repeat

Both big toe pose6. Lotus Pose

The abdominals, hips and spine are toned. The back becomes erect which cultivates a calm and focussed mind. Builds flexibility in the hips.

  • For beginners, do this pose as simple crossed legs: put feet on the floor and cross at the shin bones
  • Sit tall and roll the shoulders back, pressing the shoulder blades into the ribs to keep the chest open
  • Soften the eyes and look downwards, keeping the neck long
  • Take long, deep breaths, longer than usual and as deep as you can.
  • Breathe into and expand the rib cage with your breath, as well as breathing into the base of the lungs
  • Lengthen the exhalations – this will calm the nervous system.
  • Breathe like this for 10 – 25 breaths, taking normal breaths in between elongated ones if needed
  • Relaxation: lie on back with eyes closed and body relaxed for 5 – 10 minutes to finish

Lotus eyes closed

To find out more about Sarai and Directions In Yoga, including her London classes and yoga retreats, go to

To see Sarai practising these poses and more, head to


You can also follow Sarai on Facebook and Twitter

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