Hatha yoga is a great way to tone and build strength in the body.
The arms are an extension of our heart center, the energy space of unconditional love in the body. The arms help us connect with the external world, manifest affection and kindness through physical action
Toning the arms is not just about having nicely sculpted arms, but more about bringing our awareness to this part of the body and honoring it. We learn to respect every part of the physical self and appreciating its ability to transform and develop. Strength in the arms means strength of the emotional self, self-trust and knowing we have the inner strength to pick ourselves up should we fall in life. And we do, many times.
Working with our body weight instead of just lifting weights, helps the prana, our life force to flow more freely so that we can feel freedom in these areas and release tension and blocked energy from the arms.
Our shoulders are the space in the body where we carry the weight of the world. Are you doing too much externally and not honouring your own needs? Do you worry too much about the future or continue to live in the past?
Working on building strength in our shoulders allows us to create a balanced view of the world, to be open to the world and to not take on too much pressure but instead going through each experience without any fear of being judged or rejected, and with confidence and emotional awareness.
Our hands are part of our creative centre, with our hands we can create, build things and manifest. We can give and we can receive. Strengthening the wrists creates power in this area so we can provide our hands with support and to move freely.
1. Kumbhakasa or plank pose – helps tone the arms and the core;
2. Vasisthasana – Side plank
4. Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward facing dog
5. Parivrtta Adho Mukha Svanasana – Revolved downward facing dog
6. Catur Svanasana – Dolphin pose
7. Purvottanasana – Upward plank
Working on our upper body strength through hatha yoga, to create more balance throughout the torso.
This doesn’t mean we just want to tone this area, although this is important for the development of the muscles and healthy activity of the organs in the upper physical body.
It’s also important to take in consideration the energetic flow of prana, the life force. What area of the upper body you feel tightness in? As you go through these 3asanas, notice how your body feels in each one, and allow it to simply experience each asana knowing that you have the ability to shift your inner strength into your physical self.
For the energetic self, working to build strength in the torso is about bringing the first 4chakras in alignment and balance, so that we can create a sense of equilibrium before moving to higher energetic fields.
Start in chaturanga. Open the chest by bringing your shoulder blades close to one another and your shoulders away from your ears, elbows bent and hands firmly on the ground. Keep your legs straight and parallel to one another, toes on the ground, stretching the soles of the feet and your head looking downwards to keep the spine in alignment- cervical spine is straight. Engage your abdomen.
Inhale and extend your arms bringing your upper body body upwards in kumbhakasana/plank pose, keeping the same alignment as in chaturanga. Engage your abdomen and feel the fire from the solar plexus chakra, located just above the belly button.
Inhale and turn to one side in vasishtasana, stack both feet together to the side and bring your balance on one arm, lifting the other up. Both arms should be in vertical alignment and turn your head towards the arm that’s extended upwards. Continue to engage your abdomen and the pelvic area, where the sacral chakra is located (between the pubis and the tail bone. Continue to keep your chest open, activating the heart chakra, located in the middle of the chest.
To release, come back to plank. Take a deep breath in, find your balance and exhale back in chaturanga. Repeat this sequence 2-3 times, holding each asana for 1-2minutes.
Back pain is very common, especially when it comes to the lower part of the back, the lumbar spine. It’s important to always keep your spine active by introducing movement throughout the day. The lower back is a very sensitive area so always be gentle with it and nurture it often.
*Download the FREE release back pain yoga sequence at the end of this blog post.
Emotional and mental tension is often stored in the lower back and in the hip area. You can have an active exercise routine, but if you are feeling stressed, or have been going through something emotionally challenging, this could create blocked energy in these body areas, pertaining to the root chakra our energy centre of grounding and stability and the sacral chakra, the energy centre for creativity, sensuality and movement. Also if you have an office job, where you have to spend most of your day sitting, your lower back can really suffer from this. There are special chair props you can buy to support the lumbar spine, but additional movement is needed to increase flexibility to the overall spine and to allow the prana/life force energy to flow freely in the body.
This FREE sequence can be used by anybody; however it’s been specifically created for those with a sore lower back. It’s a yin yoga practice, meaning that you will need to stay in the poses for longer. I suggest doing so for 2 minutes in each pose, but of course if you feel discomfort or pain during either of the poses, please release from the pose. It’s always important to listen to your body because you know yours best. I also suggest you use a yoga mat to support your joints and body, but if you don’t have one, you can use a soft carpet (if you have one) but please make sure that it’s not slippery because if it moves during your practice, you could injure yourself.
To prepare yourself for your practice, you can play some relaxing music and if you have any incense sticks, especially ones for relaxation, they are wonderful to use. Most importantly make sure that the environment you are practicing this sequence in is safe and well aired, and somewhere where you will not be disturbed. Enjoy yourself and take deep breaths during each of the asanas. Focus on your breath and allow your body to move with the flow of your breathing.
*Always check the contraindication for each of the poses and if your are unsure, check with your medical practitioner.
Download the FREE sequence PDF file at the end of this blog post.
I have recently launched the yoga section on my website and it is available free for anybody who wishes to learn the poses. I love what I do and I want to share this with you to empower you towards a more balanced and healthier lifestyle. Yoga is a personal practice in which we connect with our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies. I encourage you to keep your practice consistent and most importantly to be patient with yourself. Yoga is not about doing a pose to the fullest, instead it is about the journey of you getting in the pose. Learn to observe yourself during each of the poses and see what is happening for you mentally, physically and emotionally in every pose. Our body is an amazing yet complex mechanism which we must nurture and nourish so that it continues to develop, grow and open towards new experiences.
It’s important to note that no matter if you are a beginner or an experienced yogi, in the practice of yoga it’s best to always keep an open, beginner mindset. Each time, embrace each pose with openness and willingness to explore yourself and your body further. Be gentle with yourself and kind with your body. Every asana/yoga pose has its own energy that it brings for the body, so take your time and understand where your body is at during the process. Let it unfold with time, practice and discipline. Let go of your ego when you are on your yoga mat and just be one with your breath and your body. Set no expectations, but instead set an intention at the beginning of each practice. This can be something like a short personal statement that you take with you throughout your yoga session. Look at your yoga practice as one which will bring you on a journey towards self-discovery, and not an exercise routine to tone your body. Practicing yoga can absolutely tone your muscles, stretch your body and improve flexibility, but don’t limit yourself to body image expectations because yoga is much deeper than that. Breathe in deeply and exhale just the same. Let your breath guide you into the poses and don’t resist, but instead simply surrender.
Most importantly, keep yourself safe during your yoga practice. You can do this sequence in the comfort of your own home, however please note that you will need some space for the body to move freely and preferably in a well aired/ventilated room. Alternatively, if you choose to do this outside in your backyard or on the beach, please choose a flat surface which you can place your mat. You can use blankets to support your joints in certain poses, bolsters or blocks to aid you into a pose and of course a mat which separates a hard surface floor from your body. (familiarise yourself with the yoga props here) Read all contraindications prior to doing each pose and check with your medical practitioner if you have any concerns or health related problems/injuries which may affect your yoga practice with these poses.
Finally embrace yourself, your body, your emotional self, your mental abilities, your spirituality. Let yourself fully take on this yoga journey with an open heart and a willingness to explore yourself.
Download your FREE energising yoga sequence below.
* Disclaimer: This program is to be used by following the step by step guidance from self-elevation.com including the contraindications. Self-elevation.com takes no responsibility for how the practice is carried out by each of the persons who attempt it; Ultimately, it is the person's responsibility to keep themselves safe during the practice taking in consideration the contraindications which should be discussed with a medical practitioner and follow the guidance for each of the poses. This sequence should be practiced in a safe and spacious, well aired/ ventilated environment.