This time of year we find ourselves hibernating in our beds in the fetal position 'till March break sends us beach bound or the spring thaw frees us to enjoy the outdoors frostbite free. Although adorable, grizzly bears do not have a desirable beach body physique. Here, I've listed six excellent techniques you can use right now to energize the mind and heat up your body. Three are yoga Asana/poses/postures and three are Pranayama/breath of life/energy.
1. Cat/Cow Flow
Begin in neutral spine on all fours with your knees directly underneath your hips, hands under your shoulders, fingers spread wide. If you are being mindful of our wrists, choose fists instead of flat palms. On exhalation, tuck your tailbone between your legs, drawing your belly button up toward your spine; lifting your mid-back towards the ceiling and tucking your chin toward your chest. On inhalation, lift your tailbone toward the ceiling, arching your lower back; drop your belly toward the floor; and expand through your chest by lifting your heart-centre and the crown of your head toward the ceiling.
Begin standing with your feet wider than your hips; toes turned out slightly; arms extended tall and wide. As you exhale, begin to draw a big circle with your arms; bending your knees as you reach your hips back; and complete the bottom of the circle with your arms. Inhale back to the top the same way you came. Visually, this will look like you are scooping down to pick some lovely flora.
3. Heart Opener
This one is great if you've missed your lunch break vinyasa because you are swamped at work. It can be done at your desk as a quick caffeine free pick-me-up. Seated on a chair, sit slightly forward or away from the backrest. Bring your hands to the sides of the chair and hold onto the seat. Draw your shoulders down toward your rib cage and lengthen the crown of your head to the ceiling. As you inhale, lift your chin slightly as you expand though the upper chest. As your chest/shoulder mobility increases over time, you may bring your hands back along the seat toward the back rest.
First, begin in a posture that allows spinal alignment; this may be seated cross legged, in a chair or laying down.
1. Breath of fire.
To practice breath of fire, think of an excited dog panting or me: red-faced, post bodycombat class. Keep the breath travelling through the nose to keep heat from escaping the body. Focus on the exhalation of breath and contraction of the abdomen in a rhythmic manner. Can be done one or two breaths per second. **Tip: have tissues on hand as this can be very cleansing for the sinuses!
2. Ujjayi breath
The nickname 'Darth Vader' breath should explain this one well. By gently contracting the muscles at the top of the throat, we are both energizing and heating that area and the breath as it passes through. Because we are keeping the mouth closed, this heat continues to build with each slow, deep breath.
3. Expansive Breath
Start by bringing your breath into your belly, then expanding up into the ribs and chest. From there, lengthening into sides and widening through the back of the body. Once you feel that fullness of breath through the whole of the torso, bring it a little higher into the base of the throat. This is one full inhalation. Then we want to slowly purge that breath from the body completely.
Note: It is natural to feel lightheaded or giddy the first time you try these breathing techniques. This is due to the detoxification process and the increase in oxygen in the blood stream. Start with a short practice period of ten breaths and the rest. Build from there!
Author: Pam Condotta
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Gareth is a UK born fitness guru, presenter and blogger based in Toronto. He has been working in the fitness industry for the past 12 years.
In addition, he has been helping people overcome negative thought patterns and beliefs that limit them from achieving their goals.
Gareth currently teaches group exercise classes and coaches small group training at Goodlife Fitness. He also works in fitness education with the Kbell Training Academy.
Find his class schedule here.
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Pam is a registered Yoga instructor, Thai Yoga Massage practitioner and Personal Trainer based in Toronto. With six years experience in the field of fitness, she specializes in working with pre and post natal clients, seniors, rehabilitation and those with specialized needs.
She believes every moment should be embraced and loves helping others live free of physical, emotional and mental limitation. She also loves to cook!
You can check out her food blog recipes and Yoga class schedule here.
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