By Kim Vareika, Contributing Blogger
Your yoga routine does many things for you depending on the type of practice you choose. Yoga makes you more flexible, calms the nervous system, and de-stresses the mind-- but yoga also makes you stronger.
Yoga is often seen as a gentle, slow practice, which it can be, but it can also be more dynamic and build a deeper strength than other types of workouts. Holding your body firmly in the various postures builds not only strength, but also balance and focus.
Yoga blends strength and flexibility in a way that provides a total body workout that you can do anywhere and at any time. All you need is your yoga mat to get started!
Begin in Child’s Pose with the feet together and the knees wide. Allow yourself to fold in half and walk the fingers toward the front of the mat as you rest the forehead down.
Push up into Tabletop position to begin Cat/Cow. Inhale, look up, drop the belly and arch the back. Exhale, look back toward the legs and round the back. Continue at the pace of your own breath.
After your last exhale on Cat/Cow, pull the abs up toward the spine, and extend the right arm and the left leg into Bird Dog. Option to bend the left knee and reach back and grab the foot or ankle. Gently release, then repeat on the opposite side.
Next, move the hands forward slightly, and press up into Downward Facing Dog. Widen the fingers, press evenly through the hands, and send the tailbone up and back to lengthen the spine. Begin to pedal the feet to stretch out the hamstrings and calves.
From Downward Dog, inhale the right leg up and back into Three Legged Dog. Exhale pull the knee toward the chest as you swing forward slightly into plank. Return to Downward Dog and repeat on the left side.
Walk or gently hop to the front of the mat, and hang in Forward Fold to stretch the back of the body.
From Forward Fold, slowly bend the knees and take a seat into Full Boat. Absorb the belly in as you lengthen the spine up through the crown of the head.
Bend the knees in your Boat Pose, and begin to alternate straightening and bending the legs. Inhale, extend the legs out, exhale, pull the legs back in. Repeat 10-15X.
Return to Boat Pose with the knees bent, and begin to alternate tapping the toes to the floor. Remember to keep the abs tight to support the lower back. Repeat 10-15X.
Next, relax all the way flat and pull the knees to the chest to stretch the lower back. Place both feet flat on the mat with the heels lined up to the fingertips, and press up into Low Bridge. Keep the thighs parallel and point the tailbone toward the heels to keep the lower back open.
Slowly roll down and make your way down into Savasana (Corpse Pose). Allow the feet to go toward the corners of the mat, and place the hands by the hips palms up. Take a few breaths here to let your body and mind remember your practice and feel the benefits.