Most fitness professionals today agree that incorporating yoga into a training program can yield many benefits. The controversy, however, comes when we start to discuss certain poses, or asanas, and their direct effects on the human body. There are times when clients, due to past injuries or flexibility issues, may not be able to reach the desired pose without further injury. If we keep in mind the particular needs and goals of each client, most yoga poses can be modified and incorporated into a training program. Here are some examples of a few poses that can be a great addition to any fitness program because they build strength and flexibility, and require little modification.
1. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge pose)
This pose is great for activating the glutes, which are an important muscle group when it comes to balance, strength and injury prevention. While lying on your back with your knees bent, push your feet into the floor as your raise your hips into the air. It helps to think about squeezing a grape between your glute cheeks, while pushing your heels into the ground so that the glutes fully activate. Make sure you do not hyperextend the hips by raising them too high in the air. This is a great exercise to use as a warm-up to promote stability throughout the trunk. By using this small movement to activate the glutes prior to your workout, your muscles will be prepared to generate adequate force; it may also help in creating muscular balance to prevent injury.
2. Dolphin Pose (puppy pose)
This pose helps to build strength while greatly improving flexibility in the posterior chain, including the back. Starting from a quadruped position, lower your forearms to the floor and push the hips up in the air; work toward straightening the legs. If flexibility issues hinder you from straightening the legs fully, keep the knees bent to your comfort level. To use this as a dynamic flexibility exercise, move fluidly from the quadruped position to the final dolphin pose and back to the quadruped position. To help improve flexibility in the lats, keep pushing the chest back toward the legs. Pushing one heel down toward the ground, and then the other, can also help in increasing flexibility in the calves and mobility in the ankles.
3. Lizard pose
This pose can be used both as a static stretch for isometric conditioning or as a dynamic stretch to warm up before a more strenuous workout. Beginning from an elbow
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