Bestfit Issue 18 – Yoga Gym
You are the expert of your own body. Intuitively, you know how to move it, train it and nourish it. The health and fitness world has become so cluttered with overcomplicated workout machines, the latest gadgets and gizmos and miracle potions in a bottle that you have forgotten the innate power of your body. Nutrition companies battle it out over the best diet. Coaches argue over the optimal amount of weight to lift or distance to run. Yogis deliberate over the finest and truest form of yoga. All this confusion paralyses us in a state of inaction.
“This is why I created Yoga Gym, so you can get healthier, stronger and leaner with peace of mind, ” says Nicola Jane Hobbs, founder of Yoga Gym. “No more complicated equipment. No more crowded gyms. No more confusion. We have become so advanced in fitness that we have forgotten the basics – how to breathe, how to stand, how to move, and how to build our body using our body”.
Nicola, a yoga teacher and two times English champion in Olympic weightlifting, created Yoga Gym after discovering how many men avoid going to yoga classes in case they are the only ones who can’t touch their toes and how many women avoid training for strength for fear of becoming bulky. So she created the yoga-based, equipment-free training system to empower men and women to explore yoga as a way to get stronger, leaner and more flexible at home.
“Yoga Gym unites the ancient science of yoga with modern strength and conditioning principles to build strength, increase flexibility and burn fat. It combines traditional styles of yoga such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, and Iyengar, with calisthenics (bodyweight training), and popular training techniques such as circuits, tabata and super setting.
“By treating the body as an active, living, moving dumbbell, Yoga Gym is suitable for all ages and abilities and can be done as a standalone training programme or to compliment other styles of training such as weightlifting, running, and cycling to keep the body in balance. It aims to improve the fitness and function of the body, and enhance athletic performance, body composition, and mental well-being.
“Each Yoga Gym workout takes you through a series of breathing exercises, dynamic flows, challenging yang poses, yogacises (yoga-based bodyweight movements) and calming yin poses to build strength, flexibility, and balance in the body. It includes well known yoga poses and exercises such as down dog, tree pose, squats and push ups, as well as some more challenging poses such as headstands, handstands and the splits.
“So whether you want to improve your flexibility to perform better on the lifting platform, build a strong core to help with athletic performance and daily activities, or learn how to balance on your head, Yoga Gym has something for you.”
1. Breathing Exercises
Begin in a comfortable seated position and rest your eyes. As you inhale, direct your breath to expand your belly for a count of three, then your rib cage for a count of three and then your collarbones for a count of three. Exhale in the same way – from your collarbones, through your rib cage, to your belly.
2. Yang Poses
10 breaths x downward dog
Begin on your hands and knees, hook your toes under, and straighten your legs to push your bottom to the sky. Push your chest back towards your thighs and release your heels towards the floor.
10 breaths x plank
From Down Dog, shift your weight forwards to Plank so your shoulders are stacked over your wrists. Squeeze your bum and brace your belly to prevent your hips from sagging.
5 breaths each side x side plank
From Plank, let both of your heels fall to the left and lift your right hand to the sky. After 10 breaths move back to plank, let your heels fall to the right and lift your left hand to the sky.
3. Challenge Pose
Challenge poses will get you outside of your comfort zone. Don’t worry if you’re still working towards the full variation of the pose – focus on the elements of the pose that you can do.
Begin in Dolphin and lift your right leg to the sky. Keep the right leg lifted and soften the left knee slightly. Push the floor away through the ball of your left foot and shoot the right leg up so it’s vertical. Catch the balance and then slowly bring the left foot up to join the right. Continue to refine the pose by keeping your shoulders directly above your elbows, tucking your tailbone slightly, bracing your belly, and relaxing your neck. You can always modify by using a wall behind you to give you some extra confidence.
Rest for 30 seconds in between each yogacise.
12 x Yoga Pushups
Begin in Down Dog and as you inhale shift your weight forwards to Plank. As you exhale, lower down to Crocodile and as you inhale push back to Plank. On your next exhale push back to Down Dog. That is one rep. To modify, raise your hands on a stable surface such as a table, sofa, or kitchen worktop.
12 x Sumo Squats
Begin in a wide-legged stance with your toes pointing slightly outwards. Bend your knees and drop your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause for 1-3 breaths and then squeeze your bottom, and straighten your legs back to the starting position. That is one rep.
12 x Down Dog Jumps
Begin in Down Dog, come up on your toes, soften your knees and look between your thumbs. As you inhale, push through your toes and jump to lift your hips as high as you can so they are stacked directly over your shoulders. Lower back down to Down Dog – landing as softly as you can. That is one rep.
12 x Hip Ups
Begin seated with your legs bent and your feet on the floor in front of you. Reach your hands behind you with your fingers facing forwards. Push your weight into your hands and feet and lift your
hips up as high as you can so your knees are at a right angle. Hold for 1-3 breaths and lower back down. That is one rep.
Rest for one minute and repeat the yogacise circuit twice more (three times in total)
5. Yin Poses
Hold for 2-3 minutes each
30 Breaths x Melting Heart
Begin on your hands and knees and slide your fingers forwards, sinking your chest towards the floor.
30 Breaths x Reclining Twist
Begin on your back and hug your right knee into your chest. Bring your left hand to the outside of your right knee and bring your right leg across your body. If this feels okay, take hold of your right big toe with your left hand and straighten the leg. Repeat on the other side.