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Building Strength: Planks and Chaturangas

March 7, 2017

 

A common misconception these days is people think that yoga is only to help you work on your flexibility. Here is my good news: it is NOT! As we work on improving our flexibility, we also need to combine it with strength training. When you only work on your flexibility you may become 'hypermobile'. This means that your joints (knees, hips, fingers...) will easily move beyond the normal range of motion as you don’t have sufficient muscles to protect them resulting in a higher risk of injury.

 

I’m a big believer in using my body weight for strength training, because ultimately I just want to carry myself around (walking up the stairs, running on mountains, pacing on walkways etc) with as little struggle as possible.

 

Here are my top two exercises and associated tips for building strength. Practice these in your own time holding it from 30secs to 3mins – the stronger you are, the longer you can hold ;)

 

PLANK

 

Planks are great for getting used to being on your hands (for later when you want to do handstands, why not!), they engage the shoulder muscles, your core and legs all at the same time.

 

 

Tips: 

  • Make sure your whole body is in one straight line (so there isn’t a kink in the middle where maybe your buttocks are too high or low), arms straight, shoulders on top of your wrists and create a slight hollow upper back as if there is a burning candle under your chest. 

  • Suck your abdomen in so it presses against your spine and it feels like someone has punched you in the stomach.

  • Tuck in your tailbone so that your buttocks are as tight as rocks.

  • Stand on your toes and your feet can be close together or hips width distance, make sure your legs are fully engaged to avoid any kinks.

 

Start with holding for 30secs and build up.

 

CHATURANGA

 

This is the tricky one and a lot of people do it incorrectly due to a lack of strength which can lead to shoulder or back pain over time.

 

 

Tips: 

  • From your plank position, move your shoulders forward (beyond your wrists)

  • Bend your elbows 90degrees with your elbows close to your body (so it’s not an army push up where your elbows are flared out)

  • Keep your abdomen sucked towards your spine, buttocks tight and legs strong

  • As you lower your body, keep your hollow back from plank and gaze forward.

 

Start with holding for 30secs and build up.

 

Once you feel fairly strong, push up from your chaturanga back to plank position without creating a ‘worm’ effect (so imagine your body is like a long piece of wood and it can’t bend).

 

Repeat the Plank and Chaturanga up and down movement 5x and build up.

 

Beginner option: have your knees on the floor but keep your body alignments from the hips upwards the same as above.

 

Happy Training!!

 

Love, Cam xo