Strong body, Strong Mind
Cover Girl Workout - Brooke Stacey
INCLUDING YOGA INTO YOUR EXERCISE REGIME IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF YOUR OVERALL FITNESS, SAYS OXYGEN’S
COVER GIRL BROOKE STACEY.
One of the most important aspects of fitness is having a mind to body connection. When someone is able to activate and feel the strength and power of their own body it is one of the most empowering feelings one can achieve. One way to gain that mind to body connection is through yoga. Yoga has the ability to help strengthen, stretch, tighten and tone the
body. In addition, yoga can help increase circulation, improve balance and core strength, as well as being restorative and helping participants connect their mind to their body.
The word Yoga means “to join or yoke together,” and it brings the body and mind together in one harmonious experience. The whole system of yoga is built on three main structures: exercise, breathing and meditation. Regular daily practice of all three parts can help produce a clear, bright mind and strong, capable body. Try these strengthening yoga moves twice a week to add a different aspect to your weekly resistance training workout. And begin to feel the power of a mind to body connection and the positive benefits it will have on your overall health and well-being.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Nukba Svanasana)
Stretches spine, hamstrings, glutes, calves; strengthens deltoids, triceps
1. Start on all fours with your feet and knees hip-width apart. Position hands about shoulder-width apart and spread your fingers wide.
2. Pressing firmly through your hands, lift knees off the floor and straighten your legs. (If you have tight hamstrings,
a gentle bend in the knees is fine).
3. Walk your hands forward a few inches and walk your feet back a few inches to lengthen the pose. Squeeze thighs as
you press them toward the back wall. Press your heels back and down toward the floor (though they might not reach the mat).
4. Relax the head and neck and let your shoulder blades slide down your back toward your feet. Breathe deeply. Hold for at least one minute.
Beginners: Try bending your knees, coming up onto the balls of your feet, bringing the belly to rest on the thighs and the sit bones up high. Then sink your heels, straightening the legs keeping the high upward rotation of the sit bones. Also try bending the arms slightly out to the side, drawing the chest towards the thighs. Then re-straighten the arms.
Advanced: If you are very flexible, try not to let the rib cage sink towards the floor creating a sinking spine. Draw the ribs in to maintain a flat back. Try holding the pose for five minutes, placing a block under your head for
Why it is good for you: Down-Dog is a top-notch upper bodystrengthener. And as an inversion (meaning your hips are higher than your heart), it increases circulation.
Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)
Strengthens the legs, opens the chest and shoulders
1. From Downward Facing Dog, bring the right foot forward next to the right hand. Pivot on the ball of the left foot and drop the left heel on to the floor with the toes turned out about 45 degrees from the heel.
2. Bend the right knee directly over the right ankle, so that your thigh is parallel to the floor. Draw the right hip back and the left hip forward, so that the hips are squared to the front.
3. Bring the arms out to the side and up. Bring your palms to touch and gaze up toward the thumbs, coming into a slight backbend. Slide the shoulder blades down the back. Repeat on the other side.
Beginners: Step the left foot out toward the left side of the mat a bit to allow more room for the hips to square. Place your hands on your hip bones, so you can feel whether they are squared forward. Draw the right hip back and the left hip forward. When you bring your arms up, keep them shoulder’s distance apart if that is more comfortable.
Advanced: Make sure the right knee stays directly over the right ankle. Ground down the outer edge of the left foot while lifting the inner arch of that foot. Really engage the quadriceps. Hold the pose for ten breaths.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Stretches hips, inner thighs, chest; strengthens quadriceps, abdomen, shoulders
1. From standing, step your feet about 4 feet apart. Turn your right foot so the toes point toward the front of your mat. Turn your left foot in 30 degrees.
2. Raise your arms to shoulder height, parallel with the floor, palms face down. Bend your right knee so your right shin and thigh form a 90-degree angle.
3. Gently tuck your tailbone down as you draw your abdomen in. Hold for 5 deep breaths in and out through the nose.
Straighten the right leg and repeat on the opposite side.
Why it is good for you: This powerful pose will grant you long, lean, toned arms and legs as well as firmer core.
Beginners: Make sure the right knee stays tracked over the middle toe of the right foot. Don’t allow the knee to drift over to the left.
Advanced: Hold the pose for ten breaths.
Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
Strengthens the legs and abdomen, improves balance and core strength
1. From Warrior I, bring the hands onto your hips. Bring your weight forward onto your front foot as you gently kick up your back leg. At the same time, bring the torso forward until it is parallel to the floor.
2. Keep the neck relaxed, as if it's the natural extension of the spine. Keep both hips pointing toward the floor as you bring the back leg in line with your body.
3. Flex the raised foot and keep the muscles of the raised leg actively engaged. Bring the arms back along your sides. Repeat on the other side.
Beginners: Do the pose at the wall. You can either face the wall and bring your arms outstretched in front of you with
your hands on the wall or turn around and bring the lifted back foot onto the wall.
Advanced: Try another arm variation. Bring the arms outstretched in front of you (pictured here) or into reverse
namaste position behind your back.