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Three Poses to Create Strength and Tone the Body

June 14, 2016 by Lucinda McKimm - Melbourne Loves Yoga

While yoga is so much more than obtaining a tight behind, and the mental benefits of a daily practice should not go unknown, the physical benefits are a welcome by-product of feeling better in our bodies and minds.

From reducing stress and depression, to toning our abs and our butts, creating mindfulness with movement is a great way to keep our bodies healthy.

Here, we share three poses that build heat and aid in creating a stronger, leaner body.

Warrior 3 with eagle arms (Virabhadrasana 3 with Garudasana arms)

Inhale to reach the arms up towards the sky

Exhale to bring your right elbow over the left elbow, wrapping the arms and bring the palms to touch, or as close to touching as is comfortable.

Begin to reach your torso forward and energetically lift your right leg up and behind you, flexing the toes toward the shin and keeping the leg active.

Think about squaring the hips, keeping the right leg active and lifted, and keeping a slight lift in the chest.

Hold for three to five breaths.

To exit, slowly roll up to standing, hug the right knee in towards the chest, and release the foot to the ground.

Repeat on the other side.

Modifications

  • If the eagle arms variation is too strong, bring the palms to the heart’s centre

Downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana)

Downward facing dog is an energising pose that works the whole body, strengthening the legs, shoulders, and core. The base for many vinyasa sequences, downward dog is a wonderfully grounding pose.

Ground down through both hands at shoulder width, and plug knuckles into the mat to avoid bearing all the weight in the wrist.

Lengthen through the spine and the arms and pull the chest through as though you are taking it towards your thighs.

While the balls of the feet are planted down at about hip width, it does not matter if the whole foot is grounded down. Pull the belly button towards the spine and bring your awareness to activating the core and keeping it strong.

Instead of worrying about the feet, think about creating a nice, long spine.

In a warm up, it is nice to peddle through the feet, bending one knee and then the other to create space and mobility.

Your body should almost look like an upside down V shape on the mat.

Modifications

  • If the spine is rounded, bend into the knees as much as you need to create length

Low Plank (Chaturanga Dandasana)

From Plank Pose, align your shoulders slightly ahead of the wrists and come onto the balls of your feet, pressing the soles of your feet back, as if into a wall behind you.

Simultaneously push back through the heels to engage the quadriceps and bring the lower body to life, and reach your sternum forward, creating a straight, taut line of energy from the crown of your head through your feet.

On an inhalation, draw the heads of the shoulders and the tops of the thighs up and away from the floor, pull your lower body up and in, and release the tailbone toward the floor.

On an exhalation, bend your elbows, keeping them over your wrists and drawn in against your sides. Slowly lower yourself toward the floor, keeping your body as straight as a plank of wood, neither letting your centre sag nor sticking your buttocks up in the air.

Bring your gaze to the floor, and continue to lower until your shoulders are at the same height as your elbows.

Continue to reach through the heels, sternum, and crown of the head as you breathe.

To come out of the pose, exhale and lower down to your belly or push back up to Plank Pose.

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