Rather than focussing on individual muscles, when practising yoga we should think holistically - that is, involve the whole of us in each movement – mind, body and breath.
Chair pose – Utkatasana – is a good example of this. We need steady deep breaths to work harder, we are required to engage all of our muscles from the feet upwards to our finder tips, and we need to keep our minds focussed on coming into the pose with the breath, and then deepening into the posture.
After some gentle warm ups, and perhaps sun salutations, stand quietly in mountain pose. On the inhale raise your arms up by the side of the head. Either keep the arms parallel, palms facing inward, or join the fingers.
On an exhale bend your knees, trying to take the thighs as nearly parallel to the floor as feels comfortable. The knees will project out over the feet (but not too far forward of the toes). Start to lean slightly forward over the thighs whilst keep the extension in the sides of the body, and the back long. Engage your core, the bum muscles, and legs, and try to keep the inner thighs parallel to each other, without allowing the knees to drift out or in.
Feel your shoulder blades firm against the back and your tailbone lengthening down toward the floor to keep the lower back long.
Stay for 30 seconds to a minute breathing deeply. To come out of this pose straighten your knees with an inhalation, lifting strongly through the arms. Exhale and release your arms to your sides back to standing.
Some of the variations you can try include:
Squeeze a block between the thighs to tone up the leg and bottom muscles.
Work more on the upper body by bringing the arms down into cactus shape.
Come down allowing the chest to rest on the thighs gently lengthening the back.
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