I absolutely love Yoga. Not only is it a great way to strengthen and sculpt my body, but it also leaves me feeling calm, relaxed and rejuvenated. We all know finding the time (and motivation) to get to the gym can be hard, as recently happened to me, so being able to practice it at home does help! And let’s be honest, if Jennifer Aniston can look like that, we all can, right? So roll out your yoga mat, clear a space and get that body you’ve always wanted! Namaste.
Preparing For Yoga
Some poses can be quite intense so it’s best to do this workout on an empty stomach and in a warm room, as the temperature will help loosen up your muscles. Practice yoga barefoot and use an exercise mat for cushioning.
Concentrate on taking deep breaths and clearing your mind while doing the movements. You should never breathe while doing the poses as steady breathing is a key part of the workout.
Arms: Downward Facing Dog
One of the core poses that everyone has heard of, nevertheless it’s one of the most important.
Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees underneath your hips. Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into an upside down “V” shape called Downward Facing Dog.
Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Your heels should be slightly wider than your toes, so the outside edges of your feet are parallel with the outside edges of your mat. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Work on holding for 5 breaths.
Tummy: Camel Pose
Start by sitting on your heels with your knees close together and your calves parallel with each other.
Come up onto your knees. Keeping your hands on your hips start looking up all the while stretching your torso and leaning back, opening your chest. Slowly release your hands one hand at a time and grasp your heels. Pull your hips forward, arching your back so that they are in line with your knees and not falling behind.
Drop your head backward, opening your throat. You should feel your chest and abdomen muscles stretching and keep the weight on your arms. Hold for 5-10 even natural breaths. Release the pose by scooping your belly inwards to support your lower back as you lift back to upright, then fold forward and rest your forehead on the matt for a few seconds (known as the Child Pose).
Beginners tip: you can use blocks on either side of your heels if you can’t reach.
Legs: Reclining Leg Stretch
Do this pose using a yoga strap (or belt or old necktie). Lie down on your back and bend your knees with the strap hooked on to the bottom of one foot. Inhale as you extend that leg to stretch and tone the hamstring muscles, alternating between legs and repeating 5 times for each side.
Tummy: Full Boat
As tummies are one of our biggest problem areas, we recommend the Full Boat to also help tighten and tone. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out and your hands on the floor behind your buttocks. Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight.
Bend your knees and lift your feet off the ground until your thighs are at a 45-degree angle from the floor. Straighten your legs as much as possible, then raise your arms to meet your legs so your arms are parallel to the ground. If this is too difficult, wrap your hands around your thighs for support.
Hold the pose at least 10 seconds – with practice, work your way to a full minute.
Butt – Bridge Pose
When you’re setting up the pose, lay a strong foundation. Lie down on the floor with your face facing upward. Take a few deep breaths to get grounded and relaxed. Bend your knees, plant your feet flat on the floor, and make sure the knees are hips-distance apart.
Align it right – as you push your pelvis up and forward, your knees should be directly over your heels. If you want to make sure you have the right distance between your shoulders and your feet, here’s a great rule of thumb: when you reach for your heels, your fingertips should just graze the back of your feet. Keep your arms extended on either side of your body with palms facing down. When you’re coming out of the pose, release your clasped hands and slowly bring your body back to the mat. Also, be sure keep your head facing forward until you’re all the way down.
After Bridge, I love to bring my knees in toward my chest for a squeeze and then roll my knees slowly from side to side for a mini-massage. It’s the perfect counter-pose to give your lower back some love.
End with the relaxation pose by lying on your back with legs lifted directly against a wall for 10 to 20 seconds. Once done, be sure to drink large amount of water, it is super important to rehydrate your body as you will find you tend to work up a sweat during the workout!
swiish tip: Try doing lunges with dumbbells, or complete a short walk-run interval before the workout for some added calorie burn.