A yoga sequence for a strong upper body.

I’ve really been having  fun with my yoga recently.  I’ve been going to strong power flow classes and my own practice has been full of headstands, hand stands and forearm balances (the last two are still very much a work in progress though).

Taking a more playful approach to my time on my mat has made me want to visit more often. Instead of focusing on my always tight hamstrings, I’ve been working on building arm strength to make those inversions easier.  One day I will float on up with control, rather than shaking with concentration as I have to at the moment…but its all a journey isn’t it.

The following sequence is one I’ve been working with a lot lately.  If you can’t get up to headstand, work with a wall until you find your balance on those arms.

Before you attempt any new exercise remember to seek medical advice if you have any concerns of injuries.  Also please remember that yoga is a journey.  It is not about whether your practice looks like mine or not, it is how your body feels in the poses.  Listen and adjust for your body.

 

1. Down dog Adho Mukha Svanasana – Focus on drawing the shoulder blades away from the ears and firming the upper arms.
2. Three legged dog Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana – Focus on pushing strongly through the toes of the lifted leg to straighten it as much as you can. Try and keep the weight even in both hands to work through the upper body evenly.
3. Four-limbed staff pose Chaturanga – Enter Chaturanga by coming back through down dog, into high plank then slowly lowering your body down to the floor, holding half-way if you can.
4. Up dog Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – From Chaturanga, move the body forward and up rolling over the toes.  If this is too intense work with cobra instead.
5. Down dog Adho Mukha Svanasana – Release back to down dog, pedaling out the feet to stretch through the hamstrings.
6. Dolphin pose Makarasana – Focus on pressing the forearms actively into the floor and widening the shoulder blades.
7. Dolphin plank – From dolphin walk the feet back until your body is straight. Keep pressing the forearms strongly into the floor.
8. Dolphin pose Makarasana – Into Dolphin pose keeping the core strong.
9. Headstand Salamba Sirsasana – Bring the hands together and clasp the hands.  Walk the feet in as close to the hands as possible, lift one leg straight up into a standing split and work with trying to rock up with both legs.  Work with the wall if you need, or try the variation with hands in tripod. WORK WITH EXTREME CAUTION WHEN ATTEMPTING HEADSTAND. (ok caps rant over!)  I recommend working with a teacher until you are confident.
10. Dolphin plank – Move back into this asana when you need a rest from headstand, or rest back completely into child’s pose.
11. Side plank (with forearm variation and straight leg) Vasisthasana – Open out the body to the side, resting on the outer edge of the bottom foot. Lift the top leg if you can and focus on lifting the side of the body away from the floor. Repeat on both sides.
12. Side plank (with tree leg variation) Vasisthasana – Move up off the forearm onto the hand and slide the foot up onto the leg. It may rest at ankle, knee or thigh. Repeat on both sides.

 

I work within each of these poses for a couple of breaths and complete the sequence 3 or 4 times depending on how I’m feeling (read – whether Eamon has slept the night before or not).

 

Let me know how you go with it and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

 

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