If there are 3 yoga poses which are a sure to help with building upper body and core strength these are: DownWard Facing Dog, Plank and Chaturanga!
All 3 are very familiar to any yoga practitioner, featuring in most sequences usually as links between other poses as part of a sun salutation or vinyasa flow. But have you stopped to pay close attention to them? Whether you are practising each pose in a safe way, or whether they are actually working the muscles you want to work?
This is a simple sequence which will help you to build up endurance with correct alignment (You will need 2 standard sized yoga bricks):
- Before getting into Downward Facing Dog, place both bricks, at their highest setting, on the front of your mat, where they will be just touching your middle fingers. Exhale to come into Downward Facing Dog.
- From Downward Facing Dog, inhale as you bring your body forwards, placing the shoulders directly above the wrists, into Plank. Gaze down towards the mat in front of you and engage your abdominal muscles, keeping your whole body in a straight line. Lengthening your tailbone towards your heels whilst pressing the front of your thighs up towards the ceiling.
- With an exhalation, keeping your elbows in against the sides of your body and in line with your wrists, bring your body forwards and down resting your shoulders on the bricks. Keep your neck in line with your spine, and your whole body aligned like in Plank.
- Inhale, reversing your push up back to plank. And as you exhale, lift your sitting bones back and up into Downward Facing Dog.
- Repeat the sequence 3/5 times.
- In both Plank and Chaturanga, focus on keeping the integrity of your shape and don’t let the hips sink down. Equally, avoid lifting your bottom up.
- If you are struggling to keep the shape, you can practice with the knees on the floor as you build up upper body strength.