(KELSEY TUREK, STRENGTH AND SWEAT LLC)
Yoga is a wonderful way to calm the mind, strengthen the body, practice your balance, and work on your total mind-body and mind-over-matter connections.
While all types of yoga have benefits, there are certain exercises that provide more of a toning effect than a calming one.
These are more advanced yoga moves and should not be tried if you experience pain. Try holding these poses for 15-20 seconds at a time, slowing working your way up to 45-60 seconds each.
· Side plank: Start on your side with your elbow and forearm under your shoulder and your legs stacked. For Level 1, bend the bottom leg and lift the hips up, your bottom knee on the ground, top leg straight and toes on the ground, and your top arm reaching for the sky. For Level 2, straighten and stagger your legs so your bottom foot is slightly forward on the ground and your top foot is slightly back on the ground, reaching your top arm for the sky. For Level 3, straighten and stack the legs, reaching your top arm for the sky. For Level 4, while in Level 3, lift the top leg off the bottom leg so it's hovering in the air above.
· Chaturanga: Start in plank with your hands under your elbows and elbows under shoulders, your abs pulled in and your heels pushing back. Roll forward on your toes and lower down until your arms form a 90° angle. Hold there.
· Chair pose: Stand with feet and knees together (or if this is uncomfortable, slightly apart), arms at sides. Raise your arms overhead and bend your knees, trying to take your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible, and lean your torso slightly forward. Your knees will be just over the feet and you want pull your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs as you reach your elbows back towards your ears. Don't press your chest out, instead pull draw your tailbone down to the floor, keeping your lower back long.
· Hip bridges: Lie on your back with your hands along your sides, feet hip-width apart and on the floor with knees bent. For Level 1, press your feet and hands into the floor, and push your tailbone upward while squeezing your glutes (booty) toward the sky. For Level 2, lift one foot off the ground, keeping the knee bent and pressing through the foot and hands to lift the hips to the sky. For Level 3, extend one leg to the ceiling as you press through the foot and hands to lift the hips to the sky.