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Pose of the week: V-sit

Can one yoga pose really tone and tighten multiple core muscles…including your rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, transverse abdominis, spine extensors and erector spinae? You bet. This crunch-free abdominal toner not only enhances core strength but may improve your posture. Start by sitting on a mat on the floor, on your “sit” bones or the bones at the base of your butt. Bend your knees and keep your legs together, feet flat on the floor. With your hands placed behind your thighs, contract your abdominal muscles, keeping your back straight and erect while you lift one leg, then the other, elevating your feet until your calves are parallel to the floor. The advanced position is pictured at left. In this position, your shoulders should be pressed down, away from your ears, arms and legs straight, at a 45-degree angle. Want to take it a step further and tone your upper body at the same time? Try a V-sit incline press.

Yoga styles

Yoga by definition means “union” and has been around for thousands of years. The mind-body benefits of this form of exercise are endless. Practicing yoga on a regular basis promotes flexibility, relaxation, tones your muscles and can reduces stress, for starters. There are many types or styles of yoga. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced exerciser, start with a basic routine. Keep in mind that yoga is a completely new challenge that can work your body in a way it has never been worked before. Listed below is a rundown of some of the popular yoga styles. Several ‘styles’ serve as an ‘umbrella term’ for various types of yoga classes within each category (or sub-categories).

Five popular yoga styles

Hatha-  a great style for beginners, hatha yoga encompasses various class styles but tends to be slower-paced and gentler than other forms. For this reason it is an excellent option for individuals that desire to lay a solid foundational understanding of the basic postures and poses and/or who may be beginners to the practice.

Vinyasa- like Hatha, this term also encompasses a variety of class styles. It is comprised of a sequence of yoga postures connected with your breathing. They are designed to create a seamless ‘flow’ throughout the practice.

Ashtanga- or “power yoga” is more a more physically demanding style of yoga practice with an emphasis on muscular endurance as well as flexibility – it offers a rigorous workout.

Bikram- or “hot yoga” includes a sequence of 26 yoga poses performed in a heated room. It is not uncommon for Bikrim classes to last 90-minutes.

Iyengar- the focus of this style of yoga is on proper body alignment and includes the use of props and/or accessories to facilitate the correct body position for each pose. Typically, there is an emphasis on holding the postures for a longer period of time instead of flowing quickly from one pose to the next.

Pose of the week: side plank

The side plank or sage tree is a balancing yoga pose that targets your shoulder and arm muscles. This pose involves supporting your body weight using the strength of one arm at a time. Concentrate on pushing away from the floor with the supporting arm, positioned directly under your shoulder, while extending your opposite arm toward the ceiling. Avoid allowing your torso to sag toward the floor and keep your legs straight, forming a “T-shape.” You will find that you are simultaneously toning your oblique muscles as you hold this position. For the modified version, balance on the knee closest to the floor.
Photo: © Moshimochi | Dreamstime.com