With errands to run, family to visit and parties to go to in the coming weeks, in addition to wanting to look your best you’ll need all the oomph you can muster. A great solution? Yoga. Yes, it’s known for its soothing effects, but it can also help tone and energise. Intrigued? Here is how to use the exercise usually known for relaxation for energy instead!
1. Mountain Posture to Upward Salute
Start in a standing position with your feet just hip-width apart. Bring your hands into prayer position in front of your chest, and bring your focus to your breath. Gently inhale and exhale, letting the day’s stresses melt away, and focusing on what you want to get out of your yoga practice.
Once you’re feeling calm and centred raise your hands — still in prayer position — over your head. Think about pressing your biceps against your ears, then tilt your head back slightly and gaze toward the sky. You want to keep your back straight, so don’t let your belly push forward while you’re in this posture. Hold for 10 deep breaths, then transition to the next pose
2. Upward Salute to Forward Bend
Release your hands from prayer position, rotating your palms to face forward, then bring your arms parallel to the floor and swan dive forward, until you are in a full standing forward bend. You can adjust your feet to be slightly further apart if you like. Either place your hands on the floor or grab hold of each elbow, and hang out here for 30 seconds, feeling the stretch in the backs of your legs and your spine.
3. Forward Bend to Plank Pose
Plank pose is basically the top of a pushup. To get there from forward bend, place your palms on the floor and bend your knees. Jump your feet back, so you’re in a pushup position on your toes with a straight back and your hands directly under your shoulders. Use your core strength to keep a straight back, and hold this for 10 deep breaths, if you can. If you can’t, don’t worry! Just hold it for a bit longer each time you practice, and the strength will come.
4. Plank Pose to Downward Dog
To transition into down dog from plank, push with your arms, bringing your bottom into the air and walking your feet forward until you’re comfortably in downward dog. Remember to keep your upper back straight by pulling the shoulder blades together. Stay here and breathe for 30 seconds to a full minute, feeling the stretch in the backs of your legs and your neck.
5. Downward Dog to Upward Dog
This is one of my favorite transitions in yoga. Once you get it down, it’s just such a smooth transition, and it makes you feel like a real pro. Release your bottom back down toward the floor, coming back into that push up position you were in earlier. Then, turn your toes under, so the tops of your feet are on the floor. As you are changing foot positions, also bring your chest up between your hands, arching your spine and tilting your head back toward the sky. Hold for 10 deep breaths, making sure that you keep your shoulders pulling down away from your ears.
6. Upward Dog to Child’s Posture
One of the things that I love about yoga is that you take little rests during even the most strenuous practices. Child’s posture is a resting pose, so relax into it! From upward dog, push back on your hands, bringing your bottom onto your feet, and resting your belly and chest onto your thighs. Let your forehead rest on the floor, and either rest your arms by your sides or extend them out in front of you. Relax here for 30 seconds to a minute.
7. Child’s Posture to Camel Pose
From child’s pose, gently raise your torso so that you’re sitting up on your heels. Take a couple of breaths here, then lift your bottom from your heels, so that your thighs are perpendicular to the floor. Place your hands on your lower back, and lean backward, arching your back, letting your head come backward. This may be as far as you can go, and that is totally fine.
If you want a deeper stretch, release one hand from your back and grab onto your heel, then release the other hand and grab the other heel. Engage those back muscles as you stretch the front of your body, and breathe in this position for 10 breaths.
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