Thursday, December 4, 2008

Meet Your Core: 30 Minute Sequence for YOU!!

Whenever I ask my students what they want to work on this class, they always say: "my core!" So, below is a thirty-minute yoga sequence designed to strengthen your core as well as all dimensions of your torso. You should probably do this three times a week. (This sequence is courtesy of Julie Wilcox of the ISTHA yoga studio in NYC). Enjoy!

Lie on your stomach with your legs straight behind you, toes pointed, and your forearms on the ground. Line your shoulders up over your elbows. Press the tops of your feet into the mat, engage your abdominal wall, and reach your chest forward and up. Breathe 5 deep breaths. Feel your rib cage expanding outward and downward on your inhales and in and upwards on your exhales.

Forearm Plank
From Sphinx, flex your toes into the mat. Press the balls of your feet and forearms down into the ground. Begin to elevate your legs towards the ceiling from your inner thighs as you lift your core off the ground. You should be balancing on the balls of your feet and forearms only at this point. Focus your gaze on the floor and keep the back of your neck long. Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Relax back down onto the floor. Resume Sphinx pose.

Repeat these two postures together a total of 3 times. Then place your forehead on the ground and your palms beside the middle of your torso. Press up onto your hands and knees.

Neutral Cat
Line your shoulders up over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Place your hands shoulder’s distance apart from each other and your knees at hips distance.

1 Legged Upward/Downward Cat 5x
From neutral cat, inhale your right leg behind you until it is straight with your toes facing the floor (flexed). As you do this, reach your chest forward and lift your face and chest slightly. Keep the back of your neck long. Exhale, bend your right leg in towards your chest and engage your abdomen as you round your back to the ceiling and drop the crown of your head to the floor. Repeat this 5 times. Hold the knee in at the chest for five breaths on the last one.
Repeat on left side.

Resume neutral Cat.
From Neutral Cat, Inhale your chest forward, exhale press your palms down as you pull your hips up and back using your lower abs to do so.

Down Dog
Set your hands up shoulder’s distance apart and feet at hips distance. Seal your fingers, knuckles, and palms to the mat. Rotate your outer arms (triceps) in towards your head so that your inner elbow begins to open towards the front of the room. Move your shoulders towards your waist by relaxing them down your back. Lengthen both sides of your torso and waist evenly. Reach your sit bones up and back. Press your thighs into the thighbone. Release your heels towards the floor.

Warrior 1
From Down Dog- Inhale step your right foot forward between your hands. Drop your left heel to the mat. Line your front knee up over your ankle. Reach the outer edge of your back foot to the floor and lift the inner arch of that foot.
Inhale press down through the sole of your front foot as you sweep your arms out to the side turning your palms up as you raise your torso off your front thigh. Stretch your arms to the ceiling either shoulder’s distance apart, palms now facing each other, or join your palms in prayer above and in front of your nose. Draw your navel back into your body and up towards your chest. Hold for 3 breaths.
On your next exhale, hinge at your hip and bend over your front thigh crossing your forearms in front of your leg. Inhale rise back up to Warrior 1 as you did before. Repeat 5 times.
Repeat the same on other side.
Resume Down Dog.

From Down Dog, Step your right foot forward between your hands drop your left heel down. Cartwheel your arms up to stand with straight legs. Place your hands on your hips. Inhale straighten your arms and lift to shoulder height, exhale shift your hips back and reach your right arm forward. Let your head relax towards your right arm as you reach forward. When you have shifted your hips as much as is comfortable, place your right hand onto your shin, a block, or your ankle and raise your left hand to the ceiling stacking it on top of the right one (palms face away from you towards wall). Make sure your torso is in one plane and that your right bottom shoulder, does not rotate inward. Inhale reach your right finer tips to the ceiling and engage the side torso muscles to come back up to a stand. Exhale back into Trikonasana. Repeat moving in and out of the posture 5 times.
From your last Trikonasana, rotate onto the ball of your back foot as you bend your front knee over your ankle. Place each hand on either side of your right foot. Step back into Down Dog.
From Down Dog, bend your knees look way out beyond your hands and step or jump to prepare pose.

Prepare Pose
With feet hips width apart or together and your knees bent or straight, extend your spine forward lift your chest and reach your sit bones back. Keep your face parallel with the floor to maintain length at the back of your neck.
Exhale fold forward into Uttanasana.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Hinge at your hips and fold your torso over your toes. The idea is to bend over with as much length in your spine as is possible so try not to excessively round the upper and lower back.

Utkatasana/Paravritta Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
From Uttanasana, as you inhale, spread your arms out to the side like wings and circle them up beside your ears as you lower your seat down as if you were going to sit on a chair. Stop moving when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your palms should face each other as your biceps line up beside your ears. Drop your shoulders down your back.
Inhale and exhale forming a prayer with your hands as you twist your torso to the left side wall. Hook your right upper arm across you left thigh. Raise your right elbow to the ceiling as you press your palms together. Open your heart and reach the crown of your head towards the front of the room. Inhale back to the center with your arms beside your ears and exhale repeat the same twist on the other side. Repeat this 5 times.
From your last Utkatasana in the center, exhale, and bend forward into Uttanasana.
Place your palms flat on the floor beside your pinky toes; bend your knees and step back into Down Dog.
Lower to your hands and knees.
Cross your shins behind you and sit back onto your buttocks.
Bring your thighs close to your chest and hug your arms around your shins.
Inhale, lift your toes off the ground keeping your knees bent or straightening them if you can do so without compromising the length of your spine (if you slump and round you should not straighten your legs). Plug your shoulders into their sockets and reach your chest forward and up. Hold for 5 breaths.

Ardha Navasana
On an exhale, extend your whole body towards the floor as if you were going to lie down but hover about 4 inches above the floor.
Inhale, lift back up to Navasana leading with your chest.
Repeat 5 times. Hold Navasana on the 5th breath, join your palms together and move your hands and extended arms side to side. Do 10 of these come back to Navasana and lower to the ground.

Lie down on the ground with your arms a few inches away from your hips and your palms facing up. Let your ankles roll out. Relax your forehead and brow. Soften all the muscles of your face including your jaw. Let your bones be heavy and your joints spacious. Then settle down and rest. Focus on the rising and falling of your rib cage as you breathe. Then drift off.

Blessings and Namaste,


Marie said...

That looks pretty awesome. I will certainly give it a go! :-)

Sorry I missed class on Wednesday, wasn't feeling well. I will be away until late January so I hope you will still be teaching at the Yoga Room and that I will see you then.

Meanwhile, all the best for the holidays and 2009.

ANNA said...

Hi Marie, Thanks so much! Love and peace to you for the holidays and 2009! See you next year on the mat and good luck with your naturalisation process... (I peaked at your blog :) XX

anjplanetyoga said...

Boat pose is also a great pose for partner yoga. Yoga instructor to the stars, Leeann Carey says that it’s great for the core and the hamstrings. She has a free yoga video on boat pose that I thought you might want to check out: