Yoga moves you can master
By Kassabaine Petersen
By Kassabaine Petersen
Yoga's benefits include: Strengthening muscle and improving stamina and flexibility, making it the perfect complementary activity. An added bonus is that it helps to still the mind, leading to greater clarity and mental endurance, which will give you the edge and help you stay focused during the final gruelling kilometres of a long run, for instance.
"Physiological benefits identified in numerous research studies include better control of blood pressure, respiration and heart rate, improved immune function and better quality of sleep," says Kathy McQuaide of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA).
We asked biokineticist and qualified yoga instructor Georgina Human to outline her top five poses to add to any training regime. "When done with proper technique, these poses may help prevent injuries and improve posture and mobility," says Human.
Target Use this pose during warm-up, and as a resting position between poses.
Benefit It aids a deep stretch in the lower back and bum muscles.
How it’s done Start in a kneeling position. Drop your bum towards your heels as you stretch the rest of your body down and forward. In fully stretched position, rest your arms in a relaxed position along the floor, rest your tummy on your thighs and rest your forehead on the mat.
Target This all-in-one move strengthens the body from neck to feet.
Benefit Since it develops the core strength that may help alleviate lower back pain and sports injuries, the plank is one of the best moves for helping the whole body.
How it’s done Starting at the top of a push-up position, bend your elbows and lower yourself down until you can shift your weight from your hands to your forearms. Your body should form a straight line. Contract your abs and hold for 30–60 seconds. Focus on form, don’t drop your hips or raise your bum.
Target Stretches both the hip flexors and the abdominal muscles simultaneously and strengthens the back.
Benefit “This is one of the most important poses as it opens up the hip and the chest – beneficial because of the amount of time we spend sitting with shoulders hunched, which puts us at risk for shoulder and lower back pain,” says Human.
How it’s done Lie on your tummy with your legs spread at hip width and the tops of your feet on the floor. Rest your forehead on the floor and relax your shoulders. Bend your elbows and place your forearms on the floor with your palms turned down and positioned near the sides of your head. As you inhale, engage your back muscles, press your forearms against the floor, and raise your chest and head. Look straight ahead. Keep your forearms and the front of your pelvis on the floor, being mindful of relaxing your shoulders. Stay in this position for 30–60 seconds. (If you have lower back problems, separate your legs wider than your hips and let your heels turn out and your toes turn in.)
* As with all exercise, caution should be taken that these poses or movements be performed with proper technique or injuries can occur. Those with existing injuries consult a professional (physiotherapist, biokineticist or qualified yoga instructor) before attempting these poses.
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