If you’ve been following your exercise plan for a while, you should have already started enjoying some benefits. For example-weight loss, an increase in muscle tone, and feeling healthier in your mind and body.
But after a while, you may feel as though your progress has stalled – or you may just be becoming bored with your usual routine. So why not consider introducing a couple of new elements to your plan? Such as changing your diet to include protein shakes, or even trying some yoga.
Even if you have tried yoga before, there are some specific poses which will help you to increase muscle strength in defined areas. These aren’t generally recommended for beginners, so if you haven’t done any yoga before, it’s worth getting a grip on some basic poses first.
Then, when you’re feeling confident, try including these two poses in your workout.
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- Downward facing dog pose or Adho Mukka Svanasana
This pose can help to build arm muscles and strength. I like it to stretch out my calves, too!
With your feet hip-width apart, hinge your body at your waist, and lean the top half of your body forwards so that your hands are flat on the floor, and your bottom is in the air. Your legs should be as straight as possible. Your hands should be at one end of your yoga mat, and your feet at the other end.
If you find it difficult or uncomfortable to keep your heels on the floor, just raise them slightly, so that your weight is on your toes and the front part of your foot. As your flexibility increases, try and lower your heels to the floor as this will stretch out your calf muscles.
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- Crow pose or Bakasana
This is an arm balance pose and can be a little tricky at first. I am still struggling with this! Make sure you are fully warmed up and wearing comfortable clothes, such as black yoga pants as it is an active pose.
Squat on the floor with your knees apart and your elbows resting inside your knees. Place your hands on the floor at about shoulder width apart. Spread your fingers wide to give you more stability. If you are just starting to use this pose, you may find turning your hands in towards each other helps with your balance.
Place your knees on your triceps. To move into the pose, bend your elbows slightly, lift up onto your toes, and then move your weight forwards. Try to position your knees onto your triceps.
If you’re finding it tricky to move into the pose, try putting a block or raised platform under your feet. This can help you get your knees into the right position with your upper arms.
Shift your weight by leaning your knees into your triceps and moving up onto the balls of your feet. Slowly lift one foot off the ground, then the other. Don’t rush.
Once you are in position, look forward. This will help with your balance, as if you try to look at your feet or arms you will fall over. If the fear of falling forwards is holding you back, just place a pillow or blanket in front of you.
Now, try and straighten your arms and round out your back. You will probably only be able to hold the pose for a few seconds at first. As you progress, try and straighten your arms as much as possible, pull your abdominal muscles in and hold the pose for longer.