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Posts tagged ‘muscle toning’

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


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.

pose of the week… curling forward bend – uttanasana

curling forward bend - uttanasana

BENEFITS: Increases flexibility in the hips, hamstrings and back. This posture is detoxifying as it massages the internal organs.  Can increase brain power due to extra blood supply to the head.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: If you have any back conditions, or your hamstrings are very tight, but it still feels good to do uttanasana, keep your knees bent throughout the posture and rest your hands on a chair or sideboard. As with all poses of the week, only practice if it feels comfortable…

PRACTICE: Stand in Tadasana – with your heels a little narrower than your hips and directly underneath your sitting bones – the outside edges of your feet parallel to each other.

Breathe in to prepare and then as you breathe out, gently bend your knees and let the head roll forwards and follow the head vertebra by vertebra, rolling down the spine and finally bending at the hips, until you are as far as you can comfortably go.

Don’t try to reach for the ground, just let the upper body give in to gravity and breathe…

If it still feels good, straighten one leg and then bend it again. Do the same with the other leg. Keep doing this a few more times and then if still at ease, straighten both legs.

Breathe and enjoy the lengthening of the whole of the back of the body. Stay here as long as it feels good.

When you are ready to come out, take a breath in as preparation, bend the knees and send the tailbone down, coming up vertebra, by vertebra.

Gently shake out the arms and legs.

You might now feel as though you want to go into child as a counter pose and have a little rest….

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.