I LOVE yoga.
I love having a spiritual practice that not only grounds me but energises, uplifts and centres me all at the same time.
One of my non-negotiable is to move my body daily - I use movement as my medicine, meditation and to help boost my motivation. However, sometimes getting up and going to the gym, having a dance or going for a run outside just doesn't cut it - sometimes I need to unwind, look after my mind & body and that's when I roll out my mat and practice yoga.
Yoga is INCREDIBLE in so many ways and it amazes me how a yoga flow can have the power to transform mind, body and soul in just a few movements. There are a number of reasons why practicing yoga can be beneficial to you and one of those is your HEALTH.
I want to introduce you to my beautiful friend, Carina Pullen - a mother, triathlete, beach loving yogi - who is one of the most incredible, warming souls I have known for more than 15 years. Her love and passion for teaching & practicing yoga is contagious and I'm so excited that she is going to share a 12 week yoga series with you!
This HEALTHY YOU yoga series will target not only the whole body, but will take you through poses that boost your health and wellbeing in ALL areas - physical, mental and emotional.
So, here we have it, week 1 of this HEALTHY YOU yoga series and my gorgeous friend, Carina:
Helps to improve posture by stretching the back, shoulders and abdomen and aligning the spine.
This sequence contains 6 poses, each of which have different contraindications. If you have an injury and would like some bespoke modifications, let me know what your injury is and I can modify the poses for you.
For week 1, we dive straight into the ashtanga yoga Sun Salutation sequence. This short flow is an ideal warm-up to any yoga practice, helping to fire up the lungs, digestive system, muscles and joints through light stretching, breathing focus and strength. Complete the sequence 5 times (or more!) in a row, noticing your muscle tightness and energy blockages gently release through each completion. Breathing is especially important during warm-up, so make sure you are inhaling and exhaling at the right time to maximise the benefits.
As we progress through this 12 week yoga challenge, use this sequence as a warm up to start each practise! It can also be used to help with many other things - feeling low? down? stiff? achy? stressed? anything?! - Surya Namaskara is your answer 🙏
Stand with your spine straight, shoulders relaxed, quadriceps activated and palms in prayer position - Samasthiti
As you inhale, lift your arms up above your head, and gently arch back slightly when your arms are at the top into Urdhva Hastasana. Do not arch back if you have any back injuries.
As you exhale, lower your torso into a forward fold - Uttanasana. Bend your knees to try and place your thighs on your torso. Don't worry if your hands are nowhere near the floor - everyone starts somewhere! What matters is that you try.
Inhale and place either your fingertips on the floor or your palms on your calves (depending on your flexibility) to straighten your spine and gaze directly ahead - Ardha Uttanasana.
Exhale and either jump or step back into Chaturanga Dandasana. Try to keep your body in a straight line for this pose, using your core strength and squeezing your leg muscles. If you are still working on your arm strength, hold a plank pose instead (with arms straight instead of bent) and then lower yourself to the floor before the next pose.
Inhale and use your arms to lift your torso upwards into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, Upward Facing Dog. Rotate your shoulders back as you hold this and relax your back and core muscles to feel the stretch. Gaze upwards and if you can, lift your legs off the floor so that only the tops of your toes are touching the floor.
Exhale and lift your hips upwards, rolling over your toes, to come to Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog. This is one of the fundamental yoga poses which has numerous benefits for you! If it feels very uncomfortable initially, keep practising and eventually it'll feel like a very comfortable pose. The key points in this pose are to press your palms into the ground to lift your hips upwards and keeping your arms straight and shoulders extended, aiming for a straight line from your wrists to your hips. You can bend your knees if your hamstrings are tight and your heels don't reach the floor just yet. Hold this pose for 5 long, slow breaths, making sure to release any tension in your neck and head as you hold it.
Inhale as you look forwards, bend your knees, and either step or jump forwards into Ardha Uttanasana.
Exhale to forward fold, Uttanasana, again.
Inhale and slowly raise your arms to the side and above your head again, slightly arching your back if possible, to Urdhva Hastasana, before bringing your palms together in prayer position in front of your chest again - Samasthiti. Keep your legs strong and grounded as you lift your arms up to keep your balance.
And so completes 1 round! 5 rounds should only take around 10 minutes, and once you've completed the sequence a few times the poses and breath will come naturally to you.