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Feel Stronger and Sexier With This Arm-Sculpting Yoga Sequence

Feel Stronger and Sexier With This Arm-Sculpting Yoga Sequence

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    1. Downward Facing Dog

    • Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees underneath your hips.
    • Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale and lift your hips, coming into an upside down “V” shape called Downward Facing Dog.
    • Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Your heels should be slightly wider than your toes, so the outside edges of your feet are parallel with the outside edges of your mat. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Work on holding for five breaths.

    Arching-Three-Legged-Dog

      2. Arching Three-Legged Dog

      This arm-strengthening variation of Three-Legged Dog involves bending the knee of your top leg, increasing the flexibility in your hip flexors, spine, and hamstrings.

      • Begin in Down Dog. Step both feet together so your big toes are touching.
      • Keeping the left heel on the mat, raise your right leg in the air coming into Three-Legged Dog, and then bend the knee. Actively squeeze your right heel in toward your hip, lifting the knee high.
      • Lift your head up and turn to look over your left shoulder, arching the spine. Think about drawing your head and foot toward each other (if your spine is extremely flexible, your foot and head will touch).
      • Hold here for five breaths, keeping the belly still and breathing into the chest.

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      Extended-Tabletop

        3. Extended Tabletop

        Strong and poised like a ballerina, Extended Tabletop will open the front of your body, increase flexibility and strength in your shoulders, and tone your tush.

        • From Arching Three-Legged Dog, slowly lower your right foot to the floor behind you as you simultaneously raise your right arm in the air. You’re essentially rotating your body 180 degrees so your belly is pointing up toward the ceiling. Readjust your feet if you need to so they are parallel and slightly wider than hip-width apart.
        • Press firmly into your feet to lift your hips high, engaging your glutes and hamstrings, and extend your right arm over your face.
        • Hold here for five complete breaths, gazing at your extended hand or up toward the ceiling.

        Yoga-Poses-Tone-Arms-Upper-Back

          4. Balancing Star

          This creative cross between Sage and Half Moon will tone both your upper body and core.

          • From Extended Tabletop, lift your right arm and leg into the air, rotating your left toes so they point away from you.
          • Stay here, balancing on your left hand and foot. Try to keep your shoulders, spine, and hips in one straight line, and gaze toward your right hand. Press your left fingertips into the mat to take some pressure out of your wrists.
          • Hold here for five deep breaths, trying to keep your core strong and the pose steady. Then release back to Down Dog.

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          Quarter-Dog

            5. Quarter Dog

            Not only will this easy-on-the-wrists variation of Down Dog intensely stretch the backs of your legs, but it will also work out your arms, shoulders, and upper back.

            • From Down Dog, spread your fingers wide and lower your forearms to the mat. Check to make sure you’re creating a straight line between your elbows and middle fingers.
            • Keep your legs straight and lower your heels toward the ground as far as you can. Your heels should be slightly wider than your toes so the outside edges of your feet are parallel with the outside edges of your mat.
            • Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Hold for five breaths. Then straighten your arms, coming back to Downward Dog.

            One-Legged-Four-Limbed-Staff

              6. One-Legged Four-Limbed Staff

              Lifting one leg in this Chaturanga variation really targets your triceps and shoulders. It’s an advanced Chaturanga that requires more strength from your arms.

              • From Down Dog, shift weight forward so your shoulders are directly over your wrists, coming into the top of a push-up position.
              • Bend your elbows behind you, brushing your arms against the sides of your body as you lower down. Hold Four-Limbed Staff with your body in one straight line, making sure your elbows are at 90-degree angles.
              • Lift your right leg a few inches off the floor, pointing your toes, and hold for three deep breaths. Release that foot to the floor, and lift your left leg for another three breaths.
              • Release your left foot to the floor, inhale into Upward Facing Dog, and exhale into Downward Facing Dog.

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              Firefly

                7. Firefly

                This arm-balancing pose will tone your arms and increase flexibility in your hamstrings.

                • First, Downward Facing Dog. Jump your feet up so they land behind your hands.
                • Bring your hands back through your legs, and press your palms into your calves, trying to crawl deeper through your legs. Once your arms and shoulders are as far back behind your thighs as you can get them, plant your palms firmly behind your feet, cupping your heels with your thumb and index finger.
                • Bend your knees and squat down, resting the backs of your legs as close to your shoulders as you can.
                • Make sure your palms and fingers are spread wide as you shift weight into them. Lift your feet off the floor, either one at a time or both together, straightening your legs. Never place the weight on your wrist.
                • Hold for five breaths and then release your feet to the floor, coming into a Wide Squat.

                Side-Crow

                  8. Side Crow

                  This variation of Crow involves a little spinal twist and is just the pose to work your upper body. It’s a perfect posture for people who want to use just their own weight to tone up their muscle.

                  • From a Wide Squat, walk your feet together. Twist your torso to the right, and place both hands on the floor so they’re parallel with your thighs and shoulder-width apart.
                  • Place your outer right hip onto your right elbow and your outer right knee onto your left elbow.
                  • Shift weight into your palms, and lift your feet off the floor, coming into Side Crow. Hold here for five breaths, and then release your feet to the floor, coming back to a low squat position.
                  • Rotate your torso to the left, and repeat this pose on the other side. After five breaths, come back to a low squat.

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                  Headstand-B

                    9. Headstand B

                    This headstand variation is a killer move for your upper body, and for an added bonus, it’ll also tone your core.

                    • From a squat position, release your knees to the floor. Lower your elbows to the floor, and interlace your fingers, bringing your lowest pinky in front of the other pinky so both pinkies are on the floor, forming a semicircle with your hands.
                    • Place the back of your head against your palms and the top of your head on the mat. Once your head and forearms feel stable, straighten both legs and walk your feet toward your face as far as you can.
                    • Shift your hips over your shoulders, and keep your elbows planted firmly on the mat. Lift your right leg straight up toward the sky and then your left, coming into Bound Headstand (also called Headstand A).
                    • Hold this position for five deep breaths. To move into Headstand B, slowly lower both legs down halfway so that your legs are parallel with the floor, staying here.
                    • After five breaths, lower your feet all the way to the ground, resting in Child’s Pose.
                    • This is an advanced post, know your limit and listen to your body.

                    Child-Pose

                      10. Child’s Pose

                      • Kneel on your mat with your knees hips-width distance apart, and your big toes touching behind you. Take a deep breath in and, as you exhale, lie your torso over your thighs. Try to lengthen your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders.
                      • Rest your arms beside your legs, with palms facing up, or try extending your arms out in front of you.
                      • Stay here for five breaths.

                      yoga a7
                        Reference: popsugar.com

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                        Published on March 8, 2019

                        How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

                        How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

                        When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

                        Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

                        Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

                        How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

                        How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

                        Think about your current workouts:

                        If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

                        In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

                        A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

                          A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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                          Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

                          Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

                          Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

                          Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

                          This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

                          Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

                          Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

                          The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

                          Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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                          Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

                          Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

                          The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

                          The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

                          Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

                          Meet Strong Stan

                          Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

                          While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

                          While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

                          Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

                          Meet Flexible Fiona

                          Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

                          Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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                          To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

                          Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

                          It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

                          Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

                          Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

                          What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

                          In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

                          In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

                          So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

                          You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

                          If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

                          If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

                          Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

                            Final Thoughts

                            If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

                            Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

                            Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

                            With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

                            More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

                            Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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