Monday, April 21, 2014

Yoga Pt 2

In this second part of my yoga trio blog I'm going to go into some more challenging poses. They will work on stretching your side and front body, balance, and strengthening multiple muscles. Remember, yoga is about breathing, stretching, and going into the pose so that you get the most out of it. It is not about who can do what, I do yoga for myself and my health, I hope you all do too. Even the most simple of poses is great for you.

Disclaimer: I am not a yoga instructor, all of the poses and descriptions that I have are from learning during my practice and through the help of trained yoga instructors at Zanti Power Yoga. For you paddlers out there, check out Anna Leveque's (owner of Girls at Play) Yoga for Kayaking series which is online, you can find them here:
Extended side angle
From Warrior 2, "tic toc" your torso over your bent leg keeping your torso engaged and as long as you can. Bring you lower hand to a block, your knee, your foot, or to the ground. Extended side angle is known to help with sciatica, infertility, constipation (by stimulating the abdominal organs), and lower backaches. Your back leg is staying very strong and rooted to the ground, using your torso to support weight and strengthen your side body while getting a very strong stretch in your legs.
Concentrating for a full bind. 
The next two poses are advanced and do not attempt them until you are comfortable with extended side angle. Keeping your torso engaged, place your upper hand behind your back, by your bum. The lower hand clasps with your upper hand between your legs behind your back. Get it? Me neither. :-)
Bird of Paradise
When you get your shoulders strong and flexible enough to clasp behind your back, go even further and fly into a "Bird of Paradise"! Bring your back foot forward (with arms still clasped behind you) balance yourself and open your chest to the world while standing on your rooted leg. This pose, not only is a balance pose, but it stretches and strengthens your arms core and leg. I also find it a mentally challenging pose because you are like a flamingo with one leg, breathing (and smiling) always helps me through this pose. 
For crescent pose, start in the low lunge position and use your core to lift you up so your arms are straight up. Keep your back leg as engaged as you can. This pose will stretch the quad of your back leg, strengthen your glutes and thighs. It is also a great way to help sciatica. 
Revolved side angle with prayer hands. 
From Crescent, place your hands in front of your heart in the prayer position. Keep your torso as long as you can and lower your torso over your bent leg. You should feel this stretch in your side body and your back leg the most. Make sure to remember to keep your back leg as engaged as you can by lifting up on your knee cap. Use your lower elbow to push your chest more open and deepen the stretch. Just like extended side angle this pose is great for constipation, sciatica, infertility, and even osteoporosis.
Side plank (with raised right leg)
From Revolved Side Angle, place your bottom hand on the ground next to your foot front foot, move your front foot from the bent position to stacked on top of your left foot, balancing on the side of your left foot and your left hand. To deepen this strengthening pose raise your top foot from your bottom foot. I love this pose so much because it is hard to stay in for an extended period of time. With your top foot raised from the ground, every muscle in your body is contracting and in turn, getting stronger. 
Engage your top hand by extending all the way to the ceiling, engage your core by being sure your hips are not dipping towards the floor. At the same time, you are stretching your abs, legs, and arms while building strength in your lumbar and thoracic spine. Side plank is also great for making your balance better. Remember to breathe!!
Wild Thing
Using your core, drop your top foot to the floor behind you and open up your body to the sky bringing your eyes to the wall behind you. Wild thing relieves mild depression and fatigue. The whole front of your body is also being stretched within this pose, including opening up your pelvic girdle and lungs, chest and shoulders. Your bottom (supporting) arm is also getting strong and stabilizing your shoulder joint.  
Upward Plank
For one last chest opener, upward plank is great. From a seated position with your legs straight out in front of you, place your hands behind your butt, with your fingers facing your feet. From here, lift using your torso and core strength. This pose opens your chest as well as gives strength to the shoulders and wrists. Also, it is a great posture for relieving mild fatigue. 
Ahh.... Savasana (corpse pose)
After a hard class at Zanti, we all end in Savasana. This pose is about restoring your body and thanking your body for being as beautiful and amazing as it is. It is also about clearing your mind and taking a moment for just yourself, letting all of the tension of life go and 100% relaxation. Sometimes, if I am really tired after class, I will fall asleep in this pose, maybe that's why I like it so much!!

Extra information: I practice hot power yoga. These classes are generally 1 hour long and are hot, sweaty, and sometimes challenging. I have burnt 800-1000 calories every class. There are many types of yoga in the world, find a class that looks good for what you want/need and try it out. Most classes in the area give you introductory times of a week or two to see if you really like the studio or the type of classes. I know Zanti does their first class FREE, just come with water, a towel, and a positive attitude. 

See you on your mat!! Until next time. 


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