Category Archives: Pose Of The Week

Got plank?

This evening Kathy was up for a challenge to test her strength and stamina and also to explore plank deeply to find her best plank.  Here is what she found:

“When I pressed back into my heels and down on my fingers it eased some of the strain in my arms.   It also helped if I kept my elbows from locking.  Pressing back in the heels made it easier to keep my core muscles engaged.”

Plank
Plank

TIPS: Hips staying in line helps keep the core muscles firing too. Soften the elbows if your elbow joints feel strain and press into the fingers and thumbs.

She held that plank for two full minutes!

How about you?  Got plank?

Power Core Flow – Just in Time for Summer

Exhale into half boat
Beginning in savasana, Exhale up into half boat
Half Boat
Hold half boat as you exhale keeping legs parallel to your mat.
Inhale down into boat (navasana) keeping toes together if you wish, but not your legs.
Inhale down into boat (navasana) keeping toes together if you wish, but not your legs.
Exhale back up into half boat

Exhale back up into half boat

Lower down with control, aiming to bring legs and head down at the same rate.  This is not easy!
Lower down with control, aiming to bring legs and head down at the same rate. This is not easy!
Relax for a breath and repeat, building up to 10-12 repetitions.  Be mindful of your lower back.  This flow should strengthen the total core.  Enjoy!
Relax for a breath and repeat, building up to 10-12 repetitions. Be mindful of your lower back. This flow should strengthen the total core. Enjoy!

 

Plank for core strength

Plank
Plank

Try this plank with knee drop to tone and strengthen your core.  From all fours, move into a plank with hands splayed and fingers pressing into the mat.  Press back through your heels to distribute weight more evenly between arms and legs.  Without dropping your hips, lower your knees to the floor and then straighten your knees again.  Exhaling as you lower the knees and inhale as you straighten.  Repeat this until you feel the deep work happening in your core.

Plank - lower knees

Matsayasana – Lord of the Fishes

Matsayasana
Matsayasana

This pose is the counter-pose for, setu bandhasana, the bridge pose. In Bridge we squeeze the throat in a deep forward bend, massaging the thyroid and lengthening the neck muscles. In Fish the throat and thyroid are opened along with the chest in a nice back-bending pose.

To achieve this pose: Lie on your back with legs together and enough muscle activity to keep the knees pointing up. Place your hands, palms down, under your body with wrists together and elbows straight. On an inhalation, press your elbows down into the mat and lift your body off the floor. You can bring your head back and rest on the crown or the back- whichever is best for your neck. Hold for 5-8 breaths or half the time you held the bridge. Rest in savasana (relaxation on your back) pose before moving on.

It may take a few tries to get off the ground but the benefits of this pose are well worth the effort. Enjoy!

Bridge Pose – Setu Bandhasana

Setu Bandhasana
Setu Bandhasana

Bridge pose is therapeutic in several areas of the body. It is a supported back-bending pose, an extreme forward fold to lengthen the neck and massage the thyroid as well as a shoulder opener. It especially tones the back body and thighs.
Lying on your back bring your feet in close to your body. Tighten your abdominal muscles to draw the tailbone off the floor. Press your heels down into the floor and slowly peel your spine up off the floor. You’ll feel the gluteal muscles and hamstrings engaging as you lift and hold. Stay 5-8 breaths and slowly lower down letting each back bone touch the mat as you uncurl. Repeat and rest in flat on your back in savasana or other relaxation pose.

Setu Bandhasana - supported
Setu Bandhasana – supported

Sage’s Twist

Sage's Twist
Sage’s Twist

Sage’s Twist is a lovely way to unwind the spine, wring out tension, breathe in length and correct imbalances in the back. Sit on your knees, padding under you ankles if needed for comfort. Slide over to one side. Inhale to lengthen the spine, exhale and use the core and abdominal muscles to move you into the twist. Then support with one hand on your knee and the other arm like a second spine behind you. Inhale to settle into the pose and exhale the head and eyes around to continue the twist if comfortable. To deepen the twist in a healthy back try pressing the front knee away from your body as you exhale.

Tricky cat: Leg lifts with and without arm extension

Tricky Cat
Tricky Cat

From all fours exhale firmly, lifting the belly up towards your spine. Draw one knee in toward your chest and then, with the lower leg relaxed, extend your leg behind you. Hold the leg out or keep moving it in and out with your breath. You should feel muscle activity in your gluteal and upper thigh. To challenge your balance, add the opposite arm, lifting it as your leg extends. This can help balance and strengthen the muscles in your back. Try 8 repetitions on each side and then rest in child’s pose.

Tricky Cat Modification
Tricky Cat Modification

Balasana or Child’s Pose

Balasana
Balasana – Child’s Pose

This feel-good pose is wonderful for relaxation, lower back release, digestive massage and surrender. Widen legs apart if it feels tight. Inhale kneeling to lengthen your spine and fold forward. Rest on your forehead or hairline if your nose smashes. Breathe deeply and soften as you exhale. Focus on the movement of your breath as it gently presses your belly into your thighs. Allow yourself time to become restful.

Modified Balasana
Modified Balasana

If the variation above is uncomfortable try stacking blankets or a firm pillow.  Open the knees a bit and place the bolster or blankets between your knees.  Inhale kneeling to lengthen your spine and fold forward.  Soften as you exhale and enjoy your rest.