You can reap the mind-body benefits of this practice from a single move.

By Mary Anderson
January 06, 2020

Energize the body as you center the mind. That’s the formula behind this squat-lunge sequence from Will Torres, fitness expert and founder of Willspace Movement studio in New York City, that draws on capoeira, a Brazilian martial art.

“It’s designed to really reinvigorate you because the lower body is the foundation,” says Torres. “If the lower body is weak, the rest of the system will be weak.”

You’ll start in a low squat (called a Malasana squat in yoga) and extend one leg out to the side—big toe lightly touching the floor—as you reach both arms diagonally up to the opposite side. “I call it testing the water,” he says. You’ll stay low to drop into a side squat and transition into a dragon squat.

“The dragon is not a speed skater or a curtsy lunge,” he says: Both feet basically toe the same line. (Watch the video or read below to fully grasp the awesome flow.)

The rep ends with a 180-degree twist back into a low squat. “You are unwinding yourself from the highest point of tension,” says Torres. “The mental effect is that you come to a place where you feel a reset.”

Sound tricky? That's intentional; Because your mind forces you to focus through the multiplanar movement patterns, it has to stay present. Think of it like yoga, as a moving meditation.

Capoeira Step-Behind Squat-Lunge Sequence

How it works: "Start by doing four to eight reps on each side, and build up to 10 to 20,” says Torres.

You'll need: No equipment, just some space to move

A. Start in a deep squat, heels on the floor, toes slightly turned out, and hips as low as possible between thighs.

B. Shift weight onto the left leg, and extend the right leg out to the side, lightly tapping toes to the floor. Lean torso to the left, and reach left hand diagonally toward the floor while the right arm swings across in front of left shoulder. ("Test the water with as much control as possible and without plopping your foot on the floor," says Torres.)

C. Lower the right heel to the floor, right toes pointing forward, keeping right leg straight. Sit hips back and pivot chest to face front in a deep side squat (or lateral lunge). Reach arms forward in front of shoulders.

D. Shift weight into the right foot to step the left foot behind the right leg so the left foot is horizontally in line with the right foot. Lower into a deep squat in this cross-legged position, called the dragon. The right arm is extended to the side and the left hand crosses over in front of the right shoulder.

E. Spin over the left shoulder to unravel, returning to start in a deep squat, but facing the opposite wall. Repeat on the other side.