Most yogis I know have a love-hate relationship with balance poses. Some days balancing comes easy, but other days tree pose can feel like absolute torture. There is a reason for this, and it has little to do with your ability to actually balance.
Take a look at the following secrets that will help keep your tree from toppling over.
Get out of your head
If yesterday you rocked half moon pose but today fell right on your rear, try examining your current state of mind. Often times when life has us thinking, worrying, or fretting about everything, we won’t have any stability in our balance poses.
Fixing your gaze on a still point in the room is a great way to help your balance because it keeps your mind focused just long enough to complete your task. When your thoughts are scampering about your to-do list, balancing will seem nearly impossible. Instead, get your thoughts out of your head. They will be there when you get back to them, so don’t fret over letting them go during your yoga practice.
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Blooming flowers, singing birds, and warmer days are welcome reminders that summer is right around the corner. But, if you have yet to shed your winter wardrobe for fear of exposing your non summer-ready body, thoughts of tank tops and bikini bottoms might have you wishing it were still November.
The following yoga poses will help tone your arms, core, hips and thighs so you can sport a fit summertime physique.
Better than doing a bench press, practicing plank pose tops the list as one of the best yoga poses to do for overall strength and tone. Practice at least one set of plank every day, and work up to holding your plank for up to one full minute. If you need to modify, practice plank pose on your knees until you can work up to practicing it on your toes.
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If you’re a fitness enthusiast of any degree, chances are you’ve found yourself elbows down, back straight, holding yourself up in a plank. Perhaps it was your personal trainer who put you there, a workout video that forced you to hold one for “just 60 more seconds” at the end of a difficult session, or you discovered their somewhat torturous nature on your own. Whatever the case you can be certain that you’ve been doing planks for good a reason: They actually work.
Planks are an extremely beneficial workout not only for your shoulders, front and back of thighs, chest, and back muscles running up and down your spine, but also your core. When your body weight is suspended, relying on your elbows and feet for support, your core muscles are forced to kick in and engage to hold you up. Try holding a plank for just 15 seconds and you’ll see what I mean. No matter how effective they may be, however, lest we branch out from the traditional plank we’re destined to get bored of the whole exercise altogether and travel back to a less-effective sit-up for a stronger core.
In this week’s Saturday Morning Drill we’re seeking to break you out of your plank comfort zone and guide you into more challenging variations, including a side plank that engages the oblique muscles and a knee drop that will have your abs screaming by the time you hit 20 reps. So get on your workout gear, pull up a yoga mat for elbow cushion and let’s get started!
Fall is a busy and active time of year. While many have been hectically scurrying to settle in to a new school year, others have been expending enormous amounts of energy winterizing the yard, gathering wood for the stove, and unpacking the shovels in anticipation of calorie-burning snow removal. These fall and winter activities take strength and stamina to endure.
A strong core is paramount to having increased energy and to prevent back pain or injury. The following are a few basic core exercises that will help you stack that last load of wood and leave you with enough energy to shovel yours and your neighbor’s drive.
No, this is not the same thing as the classic 1950’s physical education exercise that wreaked havoc on people’s lower backs. It is however, a more modern and adaptable version of it that is much more effective, plus a lot safer.
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Mary Whipple has only a week left in the states before she packs her oars and heads to London, where she’ll be competing on the US rowing team. She and her fellow women rowers are defending the team’s first gold medal since 1984, which they earned in Beijing in 2008.
While terribly busy with training preparations for team’s trip to the 2012 Olympic Games this month, Mary took some time to chat with us about her diet (which is vegetarian), training methods (which are intense), and even what gets her head in the game at the starting line (it’s not music like fellow water athlete Michael Phelps). She even shares her personal breakfast recipe that she calls the “MWhip special.”
What does your training diet look like?
Because I’m a vegetarian, I keep a fairly constant diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I don’t keep a daily food journal but I do a self-check with my favorite app (Lose It!) on a weekly basis. My official race weight is 110 pounds; I fluctuate a pound or so but because I’m weighed in 2 hours before each race, I track it very closely.
Usually I’m under so often I have to carry weight in the boat. I, naturally, have a lower weight. My weight isn’t something I worry about because I’ve got great genes from my family.
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