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Go With the (Yoga) Flow

Jeff Von Hoene
Strengthen your body and relax your mind with this flexible yoga routine.

Reader: Amy K. Clines, Savannah, Georgia

Her challenge: "I need a workout that is flexible in time, equipment, location, and space."

Her story: "As the senior assistant director of ­admission for Georgia Institute of Technology, I travel quite a bit for work," Clines says. "I ­frequently stay in hotels and never find consistency with the equipment in ­hotel fitness centers, so my workout regimen suffers. When I’m home, I usually do a workout video five days a week: cardio on Mondays and Wednesdays, toning on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and yoga on Saturday. But I’ve used the same videos for years; my routine is less than exciting at this point. I want exercises that address my challenges while toning my upper body and abdominal muscles."

Gin’s prescription: "Yoga is a great solution to Clines’s exercise dilemma because it is a full-body workout that ­requires no equipment―just your own body strength―and it can be performed anywhere with limited space," Miller says. "Yoga increases flexibility while strengthening and toning muscles as it utilizes them for balance and support. Plus, yoga can help calm the mind and relax the body as you breathe deeply and stretch. This workout is an example of Vinyasa-style yoga―a series of basic yoga postures or poses designed to flow from one to the next with no breaks and a ­focus on breathing. Because the series only takes about six minutes to complete―depending on how long you hold each pose―Clines can perform it three to five times back-to-back or individually a couple of times throughout the day if she’s pressed for time."

Time your breathing. "Inhale as you stretch or extend the body, and exhale as you bend or contract," Miller says. "Concentrate on breathing slowly, allowing approximately four counts for each inhale and four counts for each exhale. A full, deep breath should fill the abdomen and then the chest as you inhale, then be exhaled from the chest and then the abdomen. It should last about eight seconds."

Ease into a new routine. "Go slowly at first, and feel your muscles working," Miller says. "You may wobble from side to side and have trouble maintaining your balance the first few times you try the poses. Do the best you can, and push yourself as you grow stronger, more steady, and ­increasingly flexible."