Tag Archives: sun salutations

Balance in Your Home Yoga Practice

Easy Pose

Easy Pose

 

Balance In Your Home Yoga Practice
by Trina
 

We tend to do more of what we like and less of what we don’t like. This practice also bleeds over into our home exercise practices, but we must learn to balance even when our instructor isn’t around to remind us or to choreograph our routine. 

Yoga teaches that balance is extremely vital to the practice and our bodies. When we inhale, our exhale should be the length of our inhale. When we work our right side, we must work the left side. Every muscle that we contract, we must lengthen or stretch. In Yoga, each pose has a counter pose to create the necessary balance. 

I want to emphasize the importance of balance in your home routine, specifically when you work your abdominal (abs) muscles. Everyone wants great abs, so people tend to do extensive abdominal exercises, especially at home, where people are enamored with sit ups and crunches. But as you strengthen your abs, you must also stretch out the ab muscle that you worked AND strengthen and loosen your lower back. The abs and the lower back work together to provide strength and stability and to support vital organs and stabilize the skeleton. 

Have you ever seen those body builders whose arms are so huge and thick that their shoulders round over? That is an example of imbalance. We are inclined to develop the muscles and body parts that we can see, the front of our body, often neglecting what we don’t see, the back of our body. 

In your home practice, I encourage you to do more than crunches and sit ups. Try some of the poses listed below that not only work your abs, but they also work your Core. When you work your abs, include poses that loosen, stretch, and strengthen your lower back too. Essentially, you want to make sure that when you work or contract a muscle, you also lengthen and stretch it, for example, after Bridge Pose (contracting the back and stretching the abs) do Plow Pose (stretching the back and contracting the abs). 

Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

 

       *After Bridge Pose, do Plow Pose 

Plow Pose

Plow Pose

 

Camel Pose prepares the body for more difficult Backbend Poses. It makes the lower back flexible, while limbering the shoulders and opening the chest. Child’s Pose is an excellent counter pose to Camel

Locust Pose

Locust Pose

 

 Locust Pose strengthens the lower back muscles, while opening the chest, and encouraging good breathing. A good counter pose to Locust is to lie on your back and hug your knees to your chest. 

 Bow Pose  induces flexibility in the spine, tones the abdominal muscles, and also helps to relieve backaches. Child’s Pose is a good counter pose. 

Balancing Poses, such as Tree Pose and Chair Pose, also strengthen your abs and your lower back. 

Upward Facing Dog

Upward Facing Dog

 

The Sun Salutations series contracts the abs when you are in forward bends, such as Standing Forward Bend, and it lengthens the abs in back bends, such as Upward Facing Dog

Here are Core Poses that loosen, stretch, and strengthen your Core muscles

Full Boat Pose
The Hundred
Dolphin
Plank
Bridge Pose

Staff Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Upward Plank Pose 

Resources:
The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown
The Yoga Journal
About.com
Althea Lawton-Thompson of Aerobics Yoga & More 

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. Make sure that you have adequate instructions about how to do these poses before you do them. Leisure Living, it’s contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries. 

© 2009 KaTrina Love

Yoga Break 4 Writers: Get Energized Right at Your Computer

I’ve been here writing for a while now. The last time I got up and moved around was three hours ago. I know…not good. I need to wake up and get some energy, but I don’t want to get fidgety. Here are some exercises that I do to awaken the muscles in my spine and get blood flowing through my body.

 Position #1 is a simple, seated Twist: Plant your feet on the floor. Sit up straight, lengthening your spine and opening your chest.100_2801 Put your left hand on your right knee. Inhale, lifting your chest and rib cage, while your right hand holds on to the back of your chair, exhale as you turn to the right as far as you can and attempt to look over your right shoulder. Keep your shoulders down and back. You want to remain erect. Remember to breath. Do the same thing on the other side. Not only does this move help your shoulders, but it also massages your internal organs, helping digestion, and it massages and stretches your spine. With each exhale, deepen the twist.

Position #2: Put your hands in prayer position at heart level. Inhale through your nose and raise your arms above your head, lifting your face to the ceiling. Open your arms wide to the ceiling, effectively pressing your chest and rib cage out. Press your palms back into prayer position, exhale through your nose, and bring your palms back down to heart level with your chin to your chest. This is an energizing move. The speed is dictated by your breath. When your face is up towards the ceiling or in motion towards the ceiling, Inhale. When your face is in a down motion or your chin is to your chest, Exhale. Repeat this motion up to ten times, inhaling through your nose when your face is to the ceiling and exhaling through your nose when your chin is to your chest.

100_2802

100_2804

100_2803

 Position #3 is a Sun Salutation series: You can do Sun Salutations on your knees or standing. The important thing is to match your breathing to each position. A previous post has specific instructions for each pose.

Yoga: Sun Salutations Part 2

Yoga01Sun Salutations Part 2

By Trina Love Abram

 Lastweek in Sun Salutations Part 1, I gave you a Sun Salutation series that contained base Yoga Poses. There are a variety of ways that you can customize Sun Salutation, and this week, I’m giving you a harder variation.

Sun Salutation is a Salute to the Sun. We are advised to perform this vinyasa just as the sun is rising. The Sun Salutation series is an invigorating, body warming, flow of poses that improve strength and flexibility. Do Sun Salutations right after you warm up to prepare your body for the remaining poses in your Yoga practice. The base poses in the series are: Mountain Pose, Forward Fold, Plank, Four-Limbed Staff Pose, Upward Facing Dog, and Downward Facing Dog. In Sun Salutations Part 1, we added a lunge to the base poses. The lunge is either a low lunge (gentler Yoga), which occurs with one knee on the mat, or it can be a high lunge with your knee off of the mat.

Today, we add Warrior I Pose and Chair Pose to our Sun Salutation series.

100_2491

Warrior I

 

Warrior I is a powerful pose that strengthens the thighs and the calves and stretches and opens the back muscles, the chest, and the shoulders. It builds, shapes, and tones the entire lower body. It tones the abdominal section and helps to prevent, reduce, and eliminate back pain. Because we are moving the entire upper body, Warrior I increases the respiratory system’s capacity. It can reduce fat around the hips and tone the ankles and knees.

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. Injuries can occur if you do not  have a licensed instructor present when you do these poses, especially for the first time. Leisure Living, it’s contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries. Remember to always listen to your body. Yoga isn’t about straining or pain. Also, match your breath with the poses to get the maximum effect.

 

Chair Pose

Chair Pose

 

Chair Pose works the muscles of the thighs and reduces flat feet. It also strengthens the spine, ankles, and calves. When correctly in this pose, you stretch your shoulders and chest. Chair pose also stimulates the abdominal organs.

 

To do Sun Salutation with Chair & Warrior Poses:

  1. Stand in Mountain Pose: Legs strong, spine straight, tail bone tucked,
    torso lifted, hands to your side, regal head.

    Mountain

    Mountain

  2. Inhale into Chair Pose: Bend your knees and stick your tail out as if you are sitting in a chair, attempting to make your thighs parallel with the floor. Lift your chest and torso. Make sure that your knees do not pass your toes. Most of your weight is on the heels of your feet. Engage your abdominal muscles to assist your thighs.
  3. Exhale into Forward Fold Pose: Lead with your chest as you fold toward the mat, as you straighten your legs, and sweep your arms down in an arc to rest on the back of your calves. Gaze at your toes.

    Plank Pose

    Plank Pose

  4. Inhale and then Exhale into Plank Pose: Jump or step your feet back to stretch your body out. Your feet are tucked under, abdominal and glutal muscles are contracted, and arms straight and strong. Alternately, you can stay on your knees.
  5. Lower into Four-Limbed Staff Pose: As if doing a push up, lower down to the map keeping your elbows close into your sides, and hover just above the mat. 
  6. Inhale into Upward Facing Dog: Straighten your arms, and using teh strength of your arms, pull your chest forward and up. Nothing on your body touches the mat except your palms and the front side of your feet. Press your pelvis to the map without touching the mat. Keep your legs active, and tuck your tailbone under. Keep your shoulders down and back away from your ears. Look slightly upward.   
  7. Exhale into Downward Facing Dog: Tuck your toes under, push your tailbone up and back. Press your chest toward your
    4 Limbed Staff

    4 Limbed Staff

    thighs, hang your head between strong arms, and gaze between your knees.

  8. Inhale and pull your right foot up between your arms into Warrior I: Pivot your left foot at a slight angle or lift on the ball of your left foot (which ever is comfortable). Lunge forward on your right leg, your knee must not go past your toes (if it does, pull your right foot up). Your eventual goal is to have your thigh parallel to the floor. After you are balanced, pull your arms up towards the ceiling, lifting your ribcage away from your pelvis, shoulders down and back. Lift your chest. Look striaght ahead. Feel powerful.
  9. Exhale back into Plank Pose: Place your hands on either side of your right foot, and pull the right foot back into Plank Pose.

    Upward Facing Dog

    Up Dog

  10. Inhale into Upward Facing Dog.
  11. Exhale into Downward Facing Dog.
  12. Inhale and pull your left foot up between your arms into Warrior I:
    Pivot your right foot at a slight angle or lift on the ball of

    your right foot (which ever is comfortable). Lunge forward on your left leg, your knee must not go past your toes (if it does, pull your right foot up). Your eventual goal is to have your thigh parallel to the floor. After you are balanced, pull your arms up towards the ceiling, lifting your ribcage away from your pelvis, shoulders down and back. Lift your chest. Look striaght ahead. Feel powerful.
  13. Exhale into Plank Pose.
  14. Inhale into Upward Facing Dog.

    Down Dog

    Down Dog

  15. Exhale into Downward Facing Dog.
  16. Inhale and walk or jump your feet to the front of the mat just behind your hands. Your knees can be slightly bent.
  17. Exhale into Chair Pose.
  18. Inhale into Mountain Pose.

Namaste,
Trina

*Disclaimer: As with any exercise regimen, consult your doctor or physician before you start. The Leisure Living Blog, its contributors, or listed resources are not responsible for any injuries.

© 2009 KaTrina Love Abram