Thursday, September 15, 2011
Yoga is Hard Core!
Most people associate yoga with flexibility and mental relaxation training, but rarely make the connection that Yoga Asana (poses) are great abdominal strength training too!
If you need a break from “crunches”, take a little journey with me as I explore two powerful “hard core” poses from the yoga asana sequence.
Plank Pose and Dolphin Plank are two very powerful strengtheners for both the abdominal core and hip flexors. Plank has the added benefit of strengthening the chest, arms, back and triceps, which traditional sit up don’t do. Keeping your torso strong will help prevent a sore back, and helps you move your limbs with more grace and awareness away from the spinal medium.
The strength training from Plank will also help for more challenging yoga poses like Head and Handstand for the advanced practitioner, and if you are an athlete, a strong core translates in to explosive power and injury prevention and quicker recovery.
Let’s Do This
To begin, find Down Dog on your mat, and make sure your fingers are spread wide and you have a strong connection between the floor and the power moving up your arms, lifting the shoulder blades up your back.
Plank is, moving the shoulders forward from Down Dog, so your shoulders and elbows are in a direct line above your wrists, and your body is straight out behind you like a board.
To prevent “sagging” in the hips, tighten your kneecaps, activate your inner thighs and push “away” from the floor with your feet and hands. Your hips should be about level to shoulders.
Since the breath (prana) in yoga is so very important, as you hold this pose for 5-10 breath cycles, fill out your rib cage with new oxygen like a balloon. This newly oxygenated blood with give you energy and focus to hold the pose.
Dolphin Plank is similar to Plank with your forearms on the floor instead of hands. This is great if you have wrist issues or shoulder injury.
Start on hands and knees, in Cat/Cow, and lay your forearms on the floor, palms facing down, fingers wide, and elbows and wrists as wide as your shoulders. From there push back off the floor to either a Down Dog Dolphin or walk your feet back behind you so you are straight like a board, same as Plank.
For more intensity in both poses, join feet together and lift one foot at a time off the floor and hold up for the 5-breath cycle. Then switch. To strengthen Glute Medias, lift the foot, keep the toes pointing down, and open the leg out an inch or two. SLOWLY!!
To modify, set knees on floor and press belly button actively up toward spine so you won’t sag in belly.
As always, all Yoga Asana and other similar movement disciplines are best under the guidance of a certified instructor or coach.
Please come to one of my SAC classes, and I’ll show you this and a whole lot more!
Monday/Wed. from 6-7pm
You can always email me through my website, if you have more questions about yoga and wellness.
PS…. incase you didn’t know, Tonja is one of the senior yoga instructors at Seattle Athletic Club, conducts classes for the Seattle Sounders, FC and has conducted classes for the Seattle Seahawks, Rat City Roller Girls, and members of the Luna Cycling Teams. She is also a Lululemon Ambassador, and has taught yoga internationally in Thailand, Vietnam and Croatia. She is looking forward to her up coming trip to Oaxaca, Mex. to teach and practice her Spanish skills. She is a certified Thai Yoga practitioner and mixes a wonderful blend of Thai Yoga and passive yoga stretching for a total body feel good tune up, in her private practice. She is ever grateful for the lessons her students teach her daily, and always curious about way to make yoga accessible for all.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, February 28, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Let’s Do the TWIST!!
Matsyendra- Lord of the Fishes
Twist Benefits: DeTox’s liver and kidneys, relief for stiff upper back, neck and shoulders, energizes the spine, stimulates digestive fires, and some relief for sciatic discomfort.
You know that feeling when you stand up and stretch after a long period of sitting? Ahhh…you can almost feel it! That’s what twisting feels like for your back and internal organs. Monday yoga practices at the SAC, I have been dedicating to the concept of detoxing the body from toxins. Twisting is one of the best ways to use your yoga practice as a tool to feel healthy from the inside, out.
Twist it UP! To start, grab a blanket and fold it firmly under your sit bones, there by elevating your hips, and tilting your pelvic bone forward for more flexible ease in the hips.
Bend one knee, then; step the other foot over the top of the “bent knee” leg. If you have supper tight hips, you can modify by stepping the foot near the ankle.
Exhale as you lengthen the spine and twist the torso towards the bent knee-as if you are wringing out a dishtowel. Keep lifting up through the spine and avoid collapsing the chest and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute for max twisting benefits.
Counter twist by lying on your back for Bridge Pose or Happy Baby.
There are many variations of twisting poses in a yoga practice, and as you continue deepening your yoga practice, you'll discover the ones that feel best for you.
I have started adding a little “aside” to this column I am calling “yoga wisdom” that will include advice from a yogic perspective for a variety of common topics. The winter months of rain and lack of sunlight in the Northwest often causes the “winter blues” for lot’s of folks, including myself. One idea is to amp up your practice, by either adding some heat or taking a “hot vinyasa” class, and to focus on twisting, upside down poses and back bends. One piece of advice I’ve been hearing from a few different sources is go to a Tanning Salon! In combination with the oral usage of St. John’s Wort, popular herbal mild anti depressant, and Vita D, the tanning bed provides warmth, UV rays; necessary to “trick” the body into thinking it has had sun. Please use caution, as the wrong tanning and length of time on the bed can ruin your skin. But in small doses, is very beneficial. I’m going tanning this week!!!