Asanas & Physical Moves

The power set

Many of you have asked me for exercises to do during these busy days leading up to the holidays, so I asked myself “what would I want to get from my exercises during these ‘marathon’ times?”…the answer was quick and simple: stamina.
I’d want to surf through the crowds in the shopping mall, feel powerful when I carry the shopping bags, even if it’s for the third time in one day, be happy to dance at parties, and, still have the energy to survive all of the family gatherings.
The following set will not transform you into a superman/woman, but it will strengthen the major muscle groups that you need to stay powerful and strong.
Please don’t forget to read the instructions and contraindications that accompany each exercise, and also spend 10 minutes relaxing each evening so you can let go of your day (see our “Best stretches to help you relax” http://mylifemoves.com/members/questions-answers/best-stretches-for-relaxing/).

Breathing: Long breaths, inhaling and exhaling deeply with a slight movement of the chest. Remember not to force it as this will make you tired. The breath should be deep but soft and relaxed.

Montserrat

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1. Stand with feet together, the soles of your feet rooted to the ground. Now lengthen your spine upward, creating space between the vertebrae and the top of your head, reaching up toward the sky. Your chin should be slightly tucked in, all the muscles of the body gently engaged, standing tall.
6 breaths.

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2. Bring the right foot forward and stand in modified warrior with the arms extended in front of you. Make sure your knee doesn’t bend “over” your toes, that is, keep the bend at a 90 degree angle to avoid too much pressure on the knee joint. Lengthen your spine upwards rather than overdoing a back bend, which might compromise your lower back. Your back foot should be nicely rooted to the ground.
4 breaths, come up to the centre carefully, and change legs.
Contraindications: knee injuries.

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3. Take your arms behind your back with fingers interlaced, and reach your upper body forward until your chest is partly resting on your thigh. Gently pull your shoulders away from your ears and your arms up, but take care not to over-stretch. Check that your back foot is pressing slightly on the ground, to help you keep your balance.
Pay special attention to your breath, as it becomes harder in this position.
4 breaths, come up to the centre carefully, and change legs.
Contraindications: high blood pressure, shoulder and knee injures, and glaucoma.

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4. “Table” pose: feet and legs apart, take your hands between the legs and gently hold on to the back of the heels. It is very important that you keep your back flat and as straight as possible, so maybe check yourself in front of a mirror as you practice. The hands should not be holding tight, as all the power is in the legs. Tip: Lift your toes up to keep your knees from pressing forward.
4 to 6 long breaths.
Contraindications: High blood pressure, herniated disc, knee injures and glaucoma.

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5. Classic plank: Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders, fingers slightly apart. Avoid “hunching” your shoulders and keep all the muscles of your body “turned on”, specially your buttocks and abdomen. Avoid sinking down in your lower back. If your back hurts, it probably means you are not ready for the plank yet or your back is simply tired. In this case, move on to the next exercise and try again another day, when your back doesn’t hurt.
10- 12 breaths.
Contraindications: High blood pressure, herniated disc, lower back pain and shoulder injuries.

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6. Side Plank: This is quite a strong pose, so take care. The hand on the floor and the shoulder should be aligned. Place one foot on top of the other and lift the hips gently upwards. The main power is in the trunk and the oblique abdominal muscles, not the shoulder. Avoid pushing your lower back forward or over stretching the upper arm. Keep your body strong and straight, buttocks engaged.
4 breaths, change to the other side.
Contraindications: High blood pressure and shoulder and neck injuries.

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7. Isometric abdominal exercise: simply lie on your back and raise the legs upwards at 90 degrees, pressing the lower back on the floor. If you cannot keep the legs straight or at the right angle, you can bend them slightly, as long as the lower back is firmly on the floor. Your arms should be raised straight up to the ceiling and the back of your head should be on the ground. Keep the abdomen gently pulled in and breathe across your ribs and chest.
10-12 breaths.
Contraindications: High blood pressure and herniated disc.

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8. This is a back strengthening exercise which I like to call the “flying pose”. The legs and the arms are lifted as you contract the buttocks, head in a neutral position. Check your breath, as it can become harder to breathe here.
4-6 breaths.
Contraindications: Facet joint syndrome, navel hernia, open linea alba after birth, high blood pressure and COPD with caution.

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End this sequence with a nice, restorative baby pose, rounding your back and breathing in your belly, for as long as you like…

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