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Archive for the ‘muscle toning’ Category

pose of the week… cobra – bhujangasana…

cobra – bhujangasana

BENEFITS:  Strengthens the back muscles. May be beneficial for sciatica. Can be good for rounded shoulders as it encourages opening in front of the collarbones. Increases flexibility in the whole of the spine.  Is said to sometimes help stomach aches…

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Obviously pregnancy puts some restraints on practicing this posture!  Mother’s to be who normally practice this posture will find up until 12 weeks comfortable to do – but listen to your body – and don’t do it if it feels like an effort. We are all unique and different, so only practice if it feels good to do…

PRACTICE: Lie prone with the hands either side of the chest to begin with. The more comfortable the posture becomes – the further down the body your hands can go when preparing for the pose. Keep your eyes looking towards the ground. (You can shut them if you want to…)

Take a journey around your body and see if there is anything still holding. If there is then imagine you are breathing into it. Visualise the area softening and releasing.

Relax and breathe freely and easily…

Notice your hands and the contact they have with the ground…

Feel your spine moving as you breathe…

When you are ready, next time you breathe out engage your thigh muscles. Allow the legs to become heavier and lengthen the tailbone away.

As the upper body becomes lighter, ground the hands and allow  your arms to push you up.

Keep the elbows a little bent – so the arms don’t lock and become stiff . Keeping the arms bent will have the added benefit of helping them to strengthen.

Be aware of keeping the front of the chest and shoulders, wide and free.

Keep length at the back of your neck by allowing the chin be lower (rather than higher).

Enjoy your long spine, strong, (but not locked) arms and broad open shoulders. Breathe and stay for as long as it feels good to do…

Come down gently and then rest in child for a few breaths…

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pose of the week… angry cat – bidalasana…

BENEFITS: Increases flexibility of the spine. Tones and strengthens the abdominal and back muscles.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: If you have weak wrists or carpal tunnel syndrome, you might like to rest your forearms on some cushions or a low chair.  As with all poses of the week – if something doesn’t feel comfortable – don’t do it.

PRACTICE: Be on all fours making sure that the knees are directly underneath the hips and the hands are underneath the shoulders…. Spread the fingers wide with the thumbs reaching in towards each other. Take a moment to bring awareness to your breathing… The next time you breathe out imagine you are bringing your navel towards your spine and arch up. Then when you breathe in allow the belly to drop creating a downward arch. Be aware of keeping space at the back of the neck and not lifting the head too high.

Carry on arching up on the out breath and arching down on the in breath as long as it feels good for you to do…Finish on an upward arch breathing out….

Come to kneeling and rotate the wrists both ways. Then relax in Child’s posture for a few breaths…

pose of the week… little bridge – setu bandhasana

BENEFITS:  Lengthens the spine – especially in the lower back. Can help ease lower back ache.  Helps to open the front of the shoulders. Tones the abdominal muscles. Very relaxing and can relieve stress.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Most mother’s to be will find lying on the back, uncomfortable to do towards the end of pregnancy – anytime from 30 – 40 weeks. You will know when it isn’t beneficial for you and your baby, as you will feel very breathless and ‘have’ to roll over onto your side. As with all poses of the week, only practice if it feels good to do…

PRACTICE: Lying on your back, gently hug the knees towards you. This will give you a nice long spine.

Take a moment to breathe…

When you feel ready – the next time you breathe out,  place your feet on the ground about hip width apart, fairly close to your pelvis. Take a moment to establish the feeling of your feet on the ground…

On an exhalation emphasize your footprints – This will lighten the pelvis and bring the back of your waist to the floor.

When you breathe in – relax everything.

The next time you breathe out, push your feet into the ground a little more so that your pelvis begins to rise up with some of the lower spine. When you breathe in, come down vertebra, by vertebra until the pelvis is back down on the floor again and relax completely.

Carry on with these movements of pushing the feet into the ground as you breathe out and releasing everything as you breathe in.

To get even more space in the lower spine visualize the tailbone being pulled away as your pelvis rises up. Keep this image of the tailbone being pulled away as the hips come down as well.

Only go as high with the pelvis as feels comfortable and stop when you have had enough…

When you are finished, gently hug your knees towards you and take a gentle rock from side to side. Take a moment to breathe…

pose of the week – sphinx

sphinx

pose of the week… dog – adho mukha svanasana…

dog pose - adho mukha svanasana

BENEFITS: Lengthens hamstrings and increases strength in the wrists, shoulders and arms. This posture is great for the circulation and can give you extra energy.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: If you have high or low blood pressure, only stay in the posture for a short while – say one breath to start with. Any back condition, keep the knees a little bent to soften the pose. As with all postures of the week, only practice if it feels comfortable and good to do…

PRACTICE: Begin on all fours… spread the fingers and thumbs wide. Then find a relaxation in the hands and just let them be heavy on the ground.

Tuck the toes under and breathe in to prepare…

As you breathe out, bring the pelvis up into the air.

Relax the head and keep the knees bent to begin with.

Notice how your body feels and then begin to move in. Whatever feel good for your body to do. Bending and straightening the legs if that feels okay… Bending each elbow (dogs have four legs!), Maybe coming right onto the toes. Moving the pelvis from side to side…Have a little play…

At some point you could find some stillness in dog. Imagine a string attached to the back of the pelvis gently pulling you upwards…

Breathe and feel the body long, strong and lengthening…

Enjoy the strength and lightness of your body.

When you feel you’ve had enough, rest in child (kneeling with the upper body folded over the knees) and breathe…

* The above photo is of me doing a rather ‘short’ dog. To make the posture longer, simple walk the hands a little further away from the feet.

Ways in which yoga can bring practical benefits (some of this is abit silly!)

One of the benefits of doing yoga...

I have a theory (not scientifically tested yet…) that the more flexible you are the more comfortable you feel lying on the ground.

So, with lots of yoga practice… sleeping in a tent and a good night’s sleep could actually go together.

Studies have shown that yoga – due to the many weight-bearing postures – can make bones stronger and guard against osteoporosis. Yoga officially keeps bodies younger – one scientific way of calculating ageing is to measure hip flexibility which will always be good if you regularly practice yoga.

Climbing gets easier the stronger and more flexible you are. (If you are not afraid of heights!)

The longer you have been practicing yoga the more able you are to scratch your back in just the right places.

Balancing on one leg, putting on a sock or shoe shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

If you are having sex and happen to find your feet next to your head – you will not be in pain and could still be enjoying yourself.

If you are on your own, doing up a top with buttons on the back can actually be possible.

Should you ever find yourself on a static trapeze(!?) you should be able to make some nice shapes.

pose of the week… tadasana…

tadasana

Tadasana is one of the basic standing postures in yoga.

BENEFITS: Good for lengthening and realigning the spine.  May ease backache. Can improve leg and abdominal tone.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Tadasana seems to be one of the safest postures to do – but as with all the poses of the week – only practice if you feel well and if the position feels comfortable for you to do.

PRACTICE: Stand with your heels directly underneath your sitting bones – a little narrower than your hips. Have the outside edges of your feet comfortably parallel. Take a moment to breath and then allow the lower half of your body to become heavier, so that the feet can really imprint themselves in the ground. In contrast to the earthing of the pelvis, feet and legs, the upper half of the body becomes lighter and is very much attracted upwards. Breathe easily and freely and enjoy the feeling of length and solidity…