The best thing, for me, about working out and staying in shape is realizing exactly how much my body is capable of. It’s that adrenaline rush that comes from pushing your body past what you know you can do and what’s easy and challenging yourself to something new and different that jacks your confidence level so you would mack on yourself if you could.
In my recent experimentation with and practice of yoga, I’ve found that I’m repeatedly surprised by the stimulating effects of it, both mental and physical. Yoga is about completely manipulating your own body to get an all-over sensation and you alone are in charge of the intensity level.
I’ve compiled a list of my five favorite, total body, ass-kicking poses that leave you all tingly and that melt the tension right out of your neck and shoulder blades. Try them out, let me know how they treat you, and tell me your favorites.
1) Awkward Airplane. From your hands and knees, stretch your left leg out behind you, foot flexed. Stretch your right arm out in front of you while keeping your back level, like you’re balancing a pint of Blue Moon on it. Hold for a couple breaths, then move your leg and arm out to the sides, keeping them off the ground. Don’t spill that beer, and hold for a few breaths.
2) Half Moon. From Warrior II on your right side, shift weight to right leg as you straighten it and lift left leg parallel to the floor. Twist torso so right hand touches the floor and the other stretches to the sky. Look at your left hand and hold for a few breaths.
3) Bound Warrior. From Warrior II on your right side, place right hand flat on the floor on the inside of your right foot and stretch left arm over your head to make a straight line from your left fingertips to your left foot, or, Extended Side Angle Pose. Reach right arm under right leg and up towards the middle of your back. Wrap left arm behind your back and clasp your right wrist or hand, keeping your shoulders down and back and your chest open. Hold here for a couple breaths if your muscles are feeling tight, or straighten your right leg for Bound Warrior.
4) Pigeon Pose. From a lunge on your right side, walk your right foot over to your left hand. Drop your knee open so your lower leg is resting on the floor. Forward bend over your right leg, left leg extended behind you, the top of your foot on the floor. If your muscles are tight, let your right heel move towards your left hip as you lower your forehead to the floor and reach your arms out in front of you.
5) Plow Pose Shoulder Stand. Lie on your back with a pillow under your shoulders and a chair about a foot behind your head. Swing your legs over your head so your toes rest on the seat of the chair. Use your hands to support your back and keep your upper arms parallel to each other on the floor. Flex your feet and stretch through your heels, then lift one leg straight up in the air. Lift your hips to make your spine as long as possible and keep stretching through both your legs. Slowly switch legs. If you feel comfortable, slowly lift both legs in the air. Use your hands on your back and your abs for support. Come out of the pose by rolling down your spine, vertebrae by vertebrae. Take a few deep breaths while lying flat on your back in Corpse Pose and enjoy the tingle.