With warm summer days quickly approaching, not to mention a wedding in the fall, getting into shape is a top priority for me right now. I’ve set some realistic goals, come up with a workout plan and for the last two weeks, have been making healthy eating and exercise a priority. In addition to daily walking, yoga about three times a week to build my strength has been part of my workout routine.
I love yoga because it combines stretching with strength building for overall well-being, and also because it’s something my fiance and I can do together. He taught me his favourite Ashtanga Yoga workout shortly after we moved in together and now doing yoga as a couple has become one of our favourite bonding activities.
Ashtanga Yoga is considered especially good for building muscle strength in addition to the regular benefits of yoga. I like the fact it helps develop my muscles without weights or lengthy workouts. If you’re looking for some basic strength-building yoga positions, these four poses are a great place to start!
This position builds leg and stomach muscles, while also improving balance and stretching the legs, arms and back. Gradually increase the time you hold the pose while taking slow, deep breaths for maximum benefits.
The classic plank pose is one of the most well-known yoga positions…and with good reason. It’s great for building core muscles in the stomach while also strengthening the arms and legs. Hold the plank pose for a few seconds while transitioning from downward dog to upward dog to reap the benefits.
This pose is great for strengthening legs and arms while also providing a good shoulder stretch. As somebody that works hunched over a computer, I can feel an almost immediate benefit to my body doing this pose. Palms should be pressed hard together with arms intertwined for the best stretch. Practice sinking lower into the squat to further work leg muscles.
This pose is the ultimate core strengthener and can be hard to hold for more than a few seconds at first, but with some regular practice, it’s a great pose for toning the tummy and improving balance at the same time. Rotating to the left and right and holding the pose for a few seconds on each side is ideal for also building oblique stomach muscles.
To help you make the most of your workout and making yoga more fun too, great equipment is a must! I love the Gaiam 5mm Reversible Yoga Mat because it provides premium cushioning and grip for advanced poses and because I can flip it over to enjoy the two different patterns as I work out. When I’m feeling lazy, the bright orange side of my mat helps me feel a little more energized. When I’m stressed and tense, the soothing blue side adds an extra touch of relaxation to my routine. And as an added bonus, the mat is made without the six most harmful phthalates!
If you’d like to give yourself some extra motivation to stretch and strengthen those muscles, you’re in luck! Gaiam Canada is very generously offering one lucky Mommy Kat and Kids reader their own Gaiam 5mm Reversible Yoga Mat, a $40 value! To enter to win, just leave a blog comment about whether you’ve ever tried yoga before.
These four poses are a great place to start if you’re looking for a few simple positions that will help build your strength. And when you’re ready for a full routine, the Gaiam yoga mat even comes with a free downloadable yoga routine! It may take a week or two to get into a good routine but once you do, you’ll be amazed at how much better a little yoga can make you feel!