Plank Pose to Downward Facing Dog Pose — Phalakasana to Adho Mukha Svanasana
Plank position to downward facing dog (slightly longer than your normal dog.) This sequence is perfect for establishing a strong core to the front and back body, and to provide strength in the arms and wrists and shoulders; whilst stretching the calves and hamstrings in downward facing dog.
Start on all fours. Extend one leg back and tuck your toes under. Keeping your hips level extend the other leg back. Keep feet slightly apart. Push the hands into the floor and push your shoulders away from the earth. There should be a perfect line between your shoulders and your heels so don’t stick your bottom up too high. Imagine squeezing a book between your thighs. Tuck your navel in. This will help you stay up longer, and protect your lower back. Feel strong and light. Hold for up to 2 to 3 minutes for upper body strength and a strong core. Then move dynamically between plank and downward facing dog simply by lifting the tail up into downward facing dog and pushing into your heels, and pushing your chest towards your thighs. Then bring the weight forwards so the shoulders are over the wrists into plank. Repeat 10 times.
Boat Pose, Navasana
Boat pose Navasana. Sit on to your bottom. Bend your knees and scoot your heels towards your bottom. When you feel balanced start to lift your toes and feet higher and higher. You can keep your knees bent or extend your legs completely. Keep the heart lifted and the spine long. Extend your arms ahead of you keeping the arms and hands parallel. Take five breaths and work up to 5 rounds.
The benefits of boat pose are: It strengthens the core, particularly the abdominal muscles, stretches and strengthens the hip flexors, and quads; it tones the neck, opens the chest and increases lung capacity.
Reclining Eagle Pose Crunches — Eagle Sit ups /Crunches
I call theses, ‘Evil’ sit ups! Lie onto your back. Then bend your knees and lift your knees above your hips, feet off the floor.
Wrap the right upper leg (hamstring) over your left upper thigh (left quad) and try and hook your right foot under your left calf. Then place the left arm on top of the right arm and cross them at the elbows, then bend the elbows and move your hands towards your face and allow the palms to meet. Legs and arms on now bound. Tap the fingertips on the floor behind your head and the feet to the floor as you exhale, and as you inhale crunch bringing the elbows to the knees. Repeat up to 10 times on this side and then repeat on the other side. If you inhale as you crunch you will bring more heat into the body and burn more fat, and increase your digestive fire.
A wonderful stretch not just for your hips and shoulders but a great core and flatter stomach workout.
Slow yogic cycling. On your back gently place your fingertips behind your head. Then bend your knees, lift your feet from the floor and bring your knees above your hips. As you breathe in lift your head and shoulders from the floor and extend the right leg as you twist the right elbow to the left knee. As you exhale bring your knees back towards your chest and lower back onto your head and shoulders. On the next inhalation lift your head and shoulders and twist the left elbow to the right knee as the left leg is extended. Repeat for 2 to 5 minutes. The slower the better. Feel of the obliques working deeply.
Eka Pada Lift
Eka Pada Lift will really test your core strength and the openness of your hips. Start seated in dandasana with legs in front of you. Then take the right foot in the left hand and right hand to knee and cradle the right foot and knee and just rock into the hip for a moment to ensure the hip feels open and warm. Release the right leg. Then take the right arm underneath the right leg and place the right shoulder into the left edge of the right knee, so that it hooks into the shoulder or upper arm. Then place the right hand into the floor near to the right hip, keeping the left leg hooked into the shoulder. Place the left hand into the floor near to the left hip and then push into the Earth as you raise the left leg straight out in front of you. Hold for up to 12 breaths. Then repeat on the other side.
The wrists, arms, shoulders, hips and core are all working to support you. It’s challenging, but fun.
Bow Pose Dharasana
When you work to strengthen the core and work towards a flatter stomach you don’t just need to work the abdominal muscles, you also need to strengthen the back body as well. Bow is perfect for this. Lie on your front. Ensure your spine and head are in a straight line, and once you are up don’t turn the head, to protect your neck.
Your legs can be apart or together, but if apart this will give you a little more space in the lower back. Bend your knees and try and catch hold of your feet at the ankles. On and in breath lift your head, chest, arms, feet, and thighs of the floor. you should be on your tummy and pelvic bone. Try flexing your feet to see if you can get a little higher, and on every in breath try and feel more open in the chest and breathe into the belly. Feel the shoulders drawing down towards the base of the spine. Feel heat in the body as you balance on your core and increase you agni, or internal fire.
Start with 2 rounds of 5 breaths, resting in between rounds.
Have a great summer x