Yoga Flow Workout
Strengthen your body and relax your mind with this flexible yoga routine.
Training at a glance:
Perform this 6-minute routine 3 to 5 times without resting. Hold each pose for 4 breaths (inhaling 4 counts and exhaling 4 counts equals one breath). Do it 2 to 3 times per week.
Walk or perform another cardiovascular activity, such as running, swimming, or an aerobic video, for at least 30 minutes, 4 to 5 times per week.
Stand tall with feet together, weight equally distributed between feet, with arms at sides, palms facing inward. Lift chest and open shoulders, keeping them back and down, away from ears. Inhale as you extend arms overhead, looking upward by lifting the chest rather than bending neck backward. Do not over-arch the back.
Standing Forward Bend
Bend forward from hips, keeping your back neutral (fairly straight with slight curve in lower back), and sweep arms down, allowing hands to rest on mat next to feet (as you become more flexible, try to rest your palms on the mat). If necessary, bend knees slightly to accommodate tightness in your hamstrings. Aim to bring chest to thighs.
Lift arms overhead, bringing torso upright as you step one leg back, positioning toes of this foot to face outward at a 90-degree angle. Keep both heels in contact with the floor at all times. Lean into a lunge with front leg bent at the knee, thigh parallel to floor, and shin in line with ankle (do not let knee extend over toes). Heel of front foot should be in line with arch of rear foot. Keep hips facing forward and lined up under shoulders. Lift chest, and bring shoulder blades down and back, away from ears. Look up toward hands as you breathe. Return to Standing Forward Bend, and hold position, then move back into Extended Warrior performing lunge with opposite leg, then return to Standing Forward Bend and hold again.
Four-Limbed Stick Pose
Step back with both feet into a push-up position, holding body weight between toes and hands. Arms should be straight beneath shoulders, palms flat on mat, with elbows pointing back and shoulders level. Lower your body toward the mat, allowing it to hover one to two inches above the mat. Maintain a straight line with your body as you breathe. Keep hips even without lifting or allowing them to sag or dip to one side. (If this position is too difficult to hold, decrease intensity by keeping arms fully extended straight below your shoulders rather than lowering body toward mat, or drop knees to the mat as if performing a modified push-up).
From Stick Pose, roll to one side, stacking feet on top of each other (or position top foot closely behind or in front of lower foot with inside edge against floor). Both legs should be extended with front of thighs facing forward. Extend bottom arm in line with shoulder, palm on mat, and reach toward the ceiling with top arm, holding body between palm and outside edge of foot. Open chest by squeezing shoulder blades down and together. Head, torso, and top leg should be in a straight line, and hold. (If this is too difficult, lower inside knee to the mat until you are strong enough to support your entire body weight.) Return to Stick Pose position and hold, then perform Side Plank on opposite side of body, and return to Stick Pose again.
Upward Facing Dog
From Stick Pose, lower knees to the mat, then legs and hips, and lift upper body onto palms with hands flat on mat, arms straight below shoulders. Keep elbows straight but not locked. Shoulders should be down, away from ears. Lift chest and look upward slightly, keeping back of neck long. Point toes behind you, tighten butt, and feel the stretch through your abdomen, chest, and shoulders.
From Upward-Facing Dog, push body up into an inverted V position by lifting hips off the mat while straightening arms and legs. Body weight should be evenly distributed between hands and feet (heels on the floor) with fingers spread to absorb weight and help protect the wrists. Keep legs and torso straight, with head facing toward the floor between arms and neck relaxed. Lift the tailbone, pull abdominals toward spine, and tighten the quadriceps (front of thighs) to straighten knees (but don’t lock them).
Revolved Triangle Pose
From Downward-Facing Dog, step one foot forward, and turn rear leg to face outward, toes pointing forward―neither leg should be bent, and both heels should stay flat on the mat. Place hand opposite of forward leg on ground by the arch of foot (so it crosses over the leg), and lift other arm toward the ceiling. (If this is too challenging, place hand on inside of forward foot, without crossing it over the leg, until you feel balanced and flexible enough to move it to the outside.) Allow head to follow extended arm, look toward fingertips, and hold. Return to Downward-Facing Dog position and hold, then perform Revolved-Triangle Pose with opposite leg forward, hold, and move back into Downward-Facing Dog. Bring legs together, and return to Standing Forward Bend position, hold, then slowly roll body up to Mountain position.