Vinyasa in Review: Highlights From the 21-Day Yoga Challenge

Revisit the lessons from the Wanderlust 21-Day Challenge.

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For 21 days, yogis all over the world joined us for an intimate exploration of vinyasa-style yoga. Under the guidance of Wanderlust co-founder Schuyler Grant, we developed the necessary tools for proper alignment, explored new and creative uses of yoga props, dismantled common yoga myths, and nurtured a foundation for a lifelong yoga practice. But just because the challenge is over doesn't mean that the work stops. A yoga practice goes with you throughout your life. Your mat is your best friend. Each day is a new opportunity to further understand your practice, and therefore, yourself. In other words, the end of a challenge means the beginning of something else. It means reflecting on what you've learned in order to keep those tools permanent. Below we've listed some of the key points from each lesson of the challenge so that you can continue to absorb these pertinent lessons. Follow along with the videos (now available for purchase!) for the ultimate restoration.

Week 1 

Week 1 is all about nourishing the spine and building proper core support. Lessons include a focus on in healthy twisting, forward, and back bending. Loosen up and love every second of it. Day 1: Establish long term success for your practice by learning about one of the most crucial body parts in yoga—your spine. In this class Schuyler teaches you how to backbend safely, followed by three practical applications, and ending with a soothing restorative posture. Body awareness never felt so good. Day 2: Day 2 applies what you learned in Day 1 to play with classic backbends and steady transitions. Explore Cobra (Bhujangasana), Locust (Salabhasana), and Camel (Ustrasana), finishing off with Bridge (Setu Bandhasana) and spine-clearing twists. Take it slow and build strength! Day 3: Dive into Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) and Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana). Regardless of your flexibility, Day 3 designed to help you to safely find length through the entire back chain of your body. Breathe to elongate and notice the details of your folds. Day 4: Use what you learned in Day 3 to stretch the hamstrings and backbody safely and effectively. Bring attention to your spine in Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) and Intense Side Stretch (Parsvottanasana), before working on Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Padangusthasana) with a strap. Finish in a supported backbend to counter your diligent forward folding. Day 5: Investigate the mechanics of twists, one of Schuyler's personal challenges. Practice active (bicycles and core work, for example) and passive twists, as well as standing, seated, and supine. Finish class by massaging the base of the skull for a juicy release. Day 6: Transform the lessons from Day 5 into a series of playful asana. Begin with by establishing your base, and then focus on twisting variations in Chair Pose (Utkatasana) and Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana), with a peak in Revolved Half Moon (Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana). End with a hip-opening twist to ground down, and a supported Bound Angle Pose (Badha Konasana) to counter. Day 7: Apply everything you've learned so far in this well-rounded sequence of twists, folds, and heart openers. Some points to remember: Lengthen the spine out of the pelvis before back bending, focus your twists toward the thoracic spine (the middle twelve vertebrae—not your neck or lower back), and discover the essence of a back bend in every forward fold.

Week 2

Week 2 focuses on the shoulder, arms, and wrists. Create space and strength in your upper appendages for longterm physical health. Day 8: Learn the fundamentals of good shoulder health—including what's your scapula and what it does—in this arm-focused class. Begin by warming the shoulders and opening the front of the chest, followed by exercises to strengthen and align the wrists. Combine these efforts as you workshop Plank and supported Chaturunga Dandasana. End with self-bodywork to release the front of the shoulders. Day 9: Explore shoulder spaciousness. On Day 9,  you wake up the wrists, then move through variations of Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana) with Cactus Arms before building to Side Plank (Vasisthasana). Counter those actions with Eagle Arms for a deep stretch across the upper back and some seated twisting. Day 10: Get the arms up and those shoulder blades sliding! Start with a shoulder warmup as Schuyler teaches proper alignment when lifting the arms overhead. Then get into side body strengthening and a visit to Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Finish with some handstand playtime at the wall and a savory chest opener. Day 11: Upward reaching provides a great opportunity for opening the side body. Begin on your feet with gentle side stretches and bound forward folds. Then build heat in earnest with Chair Pose (Utkatasana), a variety of lunges, Standing Split, and Locust (Shalabasana), followed by handstand hops. This shoulder flow is a full-body experience. Day 12: Strengthen and open the triceps to deepen your understanding of the upper arms. Your challenge poses for Day 12 are Forearm Plank, Dolphin Pose, and Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana)—and of course Child's Pose is always an option! Creative propwork helps you access these asana in new and interesting ways. Day 13: Ready for your forearms to be your best friends? This flow plays with dropped prayer variations, Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) arms, and, of course, Forearm Plank and Side Plank. Expect some back-bending Pigeons and flowing Cobras in there as well. End on your back with a solid Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) to close out this sweet and intense practice. Day 14: Apply everything you've learned so far in a sequence of  shoulder opening and strengthening. Some points to remember: Bring weight into the thumb and index finger knuckles of the hand and firm the shoulderblades onto the back whenever you are weight bearing on the arms.

Week 3

It's time to work those hips, legs, and feet. These body parts literally carry you through life—and need all the attention they can get! Day 15: Say hello to the hamstrings and inner thighs! Begin with hamstring curls and stretching and followed by inner thigh strengthening. Use your lacrosse or tennis balls for a bit of foot massage and follow with an exploration of alignment in Tree Pose (Vrksasana) and an emphasis on hip stability in standing poses. Day 16: Bring the stability lessons from Day 15 into a hip-opening flow. Inner thigh length is the name of the game with Warrior 2 and Tree Pose (Vrksasana) variations leading to Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose (Utthita Hasta Padangustasana B). End practice with a prop-assisted release in Reclining Hero Pose (Supta Virasana). Day 17: This session pairs glute-strengthening with hip-opening counterposes such as Figure 4. You might have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this type of asana, so go easy or go strong as feels right to you. Practice ends with a glute release on a ball—generally a crowd pleaser! Day 18: Actively open the hips with fluid motion. Work through moving variation of Pigeon Prep, transitioning into Side Angle Pose (Parsvakonasana), and Triangle Pose (Trikonasana). Peak with Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana) and maybe a quick flight into Flying Pigeon (Galavasana). Day 19: Psoas who? Psoas what? The psoas is a powerful muscle connecting your upper body to your lower body, from the spine to the thigh. In this lab, Schuyler helps you better understand this deep core mover, including hip-flexing drills with a sliding blanket and a series of lunges leading to Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1). And lest we forget our favorite core strengthener: Boat Pose (Navasana). Day 20: Feel the legs work in this fabulous flow. Lunging hip-openers gradually build in intensity to a series of strong standing balances, plank variations, and, of course, Boat Pose (Navasana). End class with constructive rest, allowing gravity to do its work and provide restoration for the entire lower body. Day 21: Apply everything you've learned so far in a well-rounded sequence of seated, standing, and lunging hip mobilizers. Some points to remember: In poses like Pigeon and Figure 4, flex the foot to protect the knee, and when those long hip openers have you crying (just a little) inside, remember to breathe—and smile. It helps. Remember: The end of a challenge is the beginning of something new. Revisit your practice like you would a partner and enter the relationship with love, dedication, and humility. Ready for more? Practice again with Schuyler in her series "The FIXX" on Wanderlust TV.