Onvinced that yoga won’t give you a ‘real workout’? Think again. Not only will yoga teach you mental strength, but this workout developed by Yoga Girl London’s Hannah Barrett (@yoga_girl_london) will make you work (and sweat) just as much as a gym workout. How? ‘Because it works the deep small muscles as well as the larger superficial muscles,’ explains Barrett, who began her yoga journey when she was pregnant with her first born, in 2014.
Increase Your Strength From Head to Toe While Supporting Your Mind, Body and Spirit With This Effective Yoga inspired Workout Photo Gallery
HOW IT WORKS
‘With no fancy equipment needed – just you and your yoga mat – this workout based around eight yoga moves will not only help improve joint mobility, but also stretch those everyday muscles that typically get tight, while strengthening and toning all of your main muscle groups,’ says Barrett. Each move is designed to increase strength in the small stabilising muscles around your shoulder and hip joints, which will help prevent injuries, all while improving the definition in your arms, stomach and glutes. You’ll nip in at the waist, too, and see a huge improvement in your posture, which makes you appear longer and leaner.
You’ll also improve your flexibility,’ explains Barrett, ‘which again can help to prevent injuries and pain.’ As an added benefit, you’ll learn to focus on your breath and practise mindfulness, which is key for staying present in the moment. By focusing on the breath during each posture and experiencing how your body feels as you move, you’ll keep your mind in the present and activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is perfect for reducing stress and anxiety. Namaste.
CAT AND COW REPS
Five full breaths Why? This move will stretch your abdominal and back muscles and warm your body. Start in tabletop position with your knees underneath your hips and your wrists underneath your shoulders. Inhale, then arch your spine, drawing your chest forwards and gazing ahead. Keep your neck long (A). Exhale, then round your back, while pulling your navel to your spine, relaxing your head down and pushing the ground away to pull your shoulder blades away from your spine (B). Continue moving slowly through Cat and Cow for five full breaths.
TABLETOP TO CHILD’S POSE REPS
Why? A great move to warm your body and gently stretch your lower back muscles. Come into a tabletop pose, with your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders (A). Take a deep inhale and, as you exhale slowly, send your hips back towards your heels into Child’s pose, keeping your spine long (B). Inhale and return to tabletop position. Repeat five times.
Repeat this circuit three times through for a quick but intense 15-minute workout. ‘I aim to do this workout three times a week, and always allow a day of rest in-between for my muscles and tendons to recover,’ says Barrett.
2 DOWNWARD FACING DOG KNEE TO NOSE
Reps: 10 reps each side Sets: 3 This exercise is great for strengthening your shoulders, chest, triceps and core. Start in Downward facing dog, then inhale and reach your left leg to the sky pointing through your toes engaging your left glute and keeping your hips square. This is called three-legged dog (A). As you exhale, pull your left knee in towards your nose and hinge your weight forward so your shoulders are over your wrists. Push the ground away, rounding your back and engaging your core further by pulling your navel to your spine (B). Inhale back to Three-legged dog and repeat 10 times. Return to Downward facing dog and repeat with your right leg.
DOWNWARD FACING DOG HOLD
Reps: 5 breaths, 3 reps Sets: 3 Why? This move will work every muscle in your body, while strengthening and stretching your abs, hamstrings, calves, upper back, shoulders and triceps. Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists underneath your shoulders, and your knees underneath your hips (A). Exhale and curl your toes under, lifting your knees away from the floor while sending your sit bones towards the ceiling and keeping your spine long. Focus on straightening your legs without changing the shape of your spine and lower your heels towards the mat. Actively press your hands into the floor and engage your core by pulling your navel to spine. Keep your ribs drawing in. Hold your head between your upper arms and keep your neck soft (B). Hold for five deep breaths, then rest in Child’s pose. Repeat twice more.
Reps 10 Why: This exercise will work your triceps, upper back and core. Start in Downward facing dog (A), then exhale and slowly bend your elbows and lower your forearms towards the floor. Contract the muscles in your shoulders, upper chest and upper back to stop your elbows from bowing to the sides. Gently rest your forearms on the floor in dolphin pose (B) or, alternately, hover them as close to the ground as you can. Inhale and push strongly and evenly through both hands to slowly lift your elbows from the floor and return to Downward facing dog. Repeat 10 times.
ONE-LEGGED PLANK HOLD
Reps: 5 breaths, 3 reps Why: This full body exercise will really work your arms, shoulders and core. Start in a plank position, with your wrists under your shoulders, hands pushing firmly into the floor and your core engaged. Keeping your torso and hips stable and legs strong, inhale and shift your weight into your left hand, raise your right arm straight in front of you so itʼs in line with your shoulder. Keeping your shoulders and hips square, slowly raise your left leg straight behind you, imagining you fingers and toes are being pulled in opposite directions. Hold for five deep breaths. Exhale and return to plank position. Repeat on the opposite side then rest in Child’s pose and repeat twice more.
WARRIOR III FLOW
Reps: 10 reps each side Why: A great move to tone your glutes and hamstrings. Great for core stability and balance, too. Stand at the top of your mat. As you inhale, bring your right knee in towards your chest, pushing your left foot into the floor (A). Keeping your hips square, exhale and slowly bring your right leg back behind you so you’re in Warrior III pose (B). Keeping your core engaged, inhale then slowly sweep your leg forward and return to stand at the top of the mat with your knee bent. Repeat 10 times and then repeat on the opposite side.
Reps: 5 breaths, 3 reps Why: This move will work your core, glutes, chest and shoulders. Stand with your feet around three feet apart, with your toes turned out to 45o. Inhale your arms to the sky, making sure your shoulders stay soft. Exhale, then bend your knees deeply, sinking your hips down to the height of your knee, while bending your elbows to 45o, so your upper arms are parallel to the floor and palms facing forwards. Press your knees outwards so they are aligned with the middle of your foot, then engage your core so your spine is long and your shoulders are back and down. Hold for five deep breaths. Inhale your arms up and straighten your legs to release.
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