There are many exercise alternatives out there, and I have tried quite a few. However, there is another way to get in shape that’s a little different than what you may expect. It’s called yoga.
Yoga is an ancient Hindu discipline that’s an alternative to a better body, better cardiovascular health and inner peace. Yoga is an exercise that places a great emphasis on breathing, because it minimizes the discomfort of the poses, while being conducive to muscle toning and strength training.
Focusing, concentrating on breathing and taking long, slow, breaths have a great meditative value. In the July 2000 article of Mademoiselle titled “Buff Up, Bliss Out,” Jon Giswold, trainer and author of Basic Training explains, “The meditative quality of breathing and stillness when holding a pose induces mental relaxation.”
Giswold has also created a great 20-minute workout (which I love immensely) that everyone can do in the comfort of his or her home. All you need is a quiet area, a mat and dim lighting. The exercises should be done while breathing deeply, four times a week. You should see results in less than a month.
The first pose is known as the Standing Forward Bend. This stretches and strengthens the thighs and lower back. Begin your workout by standing straight with your arms to the side. Then bend your knees slightly and bend your body forward until the top of your head is facing the floor. You should hold this pose for four full breaths and move into the Full Lunge.
The Full Lunge tones the calves, quads and glutes (your buttocks). From the previous bending pose, step back until the right leg is fully extended and your heel is up. Be sure your left foot is flat on the floor, and your left knee is over your ankle. To maintain balance, put a hand on the side of your left foot. Then in one motion, lift your upper body, join hands above your head and hold this pose for four full breaths. Giswold says, “Step your right foot forward, go into a forward bend pose and repeat on left side. Perform the cycle of poses (Forward Bend into Lunge) twice more.”
The third pose is known as the Boat. It tones your abs, hips and quads. For this exercise, sit back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Then hold the back of your thighs to maintain balance and lean your upper body back 45 degrees. Lift your legs until your shins are parallel to floor. This pose should be held for six full breaths.
Giswold also recommends a pose called the Triangle. The Triangle works the thighs, obliques, upper back and glutes. It can also be effective by standing perfectly straight, then stepping one foot to the side until your legs are approximately three feet apart. Giswold urges, “Keep the hips squared to the front and without leaning forward, bend to your right, reaching toward your foot. Simultaneously, extend your left hand toward the ceiling and hold this pose for six full breaths. Switch sides and then repeat.”
Remember, breathing is key. Concentrate on your breathing for the poses to work effectively. Yoga is the new way to exercise, and not only improves your physical health, but is conducive to mental serenity. For more in-depth descriptions of these and other poses, log on to https://www.yogasite.com to receive more information.