On chilly winter days, there’s often nothing better than wrapping yourself in a thick quilt and sipping a steaming mug of tea, but there are other ways you can warm up that can also deliver impressive slimming and health-promoting perks. One way: This five-pose yoga sequence, which fires up the body’s largest muscle groups to build heat in the muscles and lungs and provide instant warmth and energy, demonstrated by Power for Life Fitness yoga instructor Kristina Eberhardt.
When it comes to warming the body, plank pose is one of your best options. That’s because holding the position activates virtually every muscle in the body, including the shoulders, abdominals, glutes and quadriceps for all-over toning.
To do: Start on all fours, with your shoulders stacked directly over your wrists. Extend your feet back to come into a plank position. Pull your abdominals in, press into the ground with your hands and direct your gaze at the ground a foot or so in front of your hands, so that your body is in a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Hold for 8 deep breaths.
High lunge calls on the hamstrings, quads and glutes, the large, calorie-burning muscles in the legs, while the lifted back heel engages the abdominals to maintain balance. What’s more, extending the arms toward the sky will instantly increase your heart rate, warming the body.
To do: Start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Take a large step forward with your left foot and bend your left knee to a 90° angle, letting your right heel come off the ground. Keeping your hips square, press your right heel towards the back wall to straighten your right leg. Bring your arms up overhead and tilt your gaze up to your hands. Hold for 8 deep breaths. Lower your arms, press off your left foot to return to standing, then repeat to the right.
This core-centric pose activates all the muscles in the midsection, sending heat out from the center of the body to the limbs. Lifting the legs and arms also engages the quads and shoulders for a total body burn.
To do: Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat, and your hands on the outsides of your thighs. Lean back, keeping your back straight, until your back is at a 45° angle with the floor. Straighten your legs so they are also forming a 45° angle with the floor. If you can, extend your arms out straight. Hold for 8 deep breaths.
Revolved Crescent Lunge
Revolved crescent lunge requires balance, stability and flexibility all at the same time, which means you’ll quickly awaken and warm your entire body. The lunge utilizes the hamstrings, quads and glutes, while the twist activates the obliques and transverse abdominis. This pose can also feel a bit awkward and unnatural, requiring concentration and steady breathing, which will add to its warming effects.
To do: Start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Take a large step forward with your left foot and bend your left knee to a 90° angle, letting your right heel come off the ground. Keeping your hips square, press your right heel towards the back wall to straighten your right leg. Bring your hands together in prayer in front of your heart. Slowly twist your torso to the left, hooking your right elbow outside your left knee, and gaze up at the sky. Hold for 8 deep breaths. Slowly untwist your torso, press off your left foot to return to standing, then repeat to the right.
If revolved crescent lunge required focus and concentration, eagle pose is all about it. This balance pose needs total concentration to hold, as well as total engagement of all the muscles in the core, from the glutes and back to the obliques and rectus abdominis, the muscles that cover the front of the midsection. The result: An instant boost in alertness and fire in the body.
To do: Stand with your feet together and focus your gaze on a point in front of you. Bend your knees slightly. Lift your left foot and cross it over your right leg, hooking your foot around the back of your right calf. Extend your arms in front of you and bend your elbows so that your hands are pointing up. Nestle your right elbow in the crook of your left one and press your palms together. Hold for 8 deep breaths, then slowly unwind your arms and legs and repeat on the other side.
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