Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Yoga for muscle strength- Part 1 Legs

As you age muscle mass deteriorates if you do not take steps to reverse this.  In fact muscle mass declines by up to 1% per year after age 40 and accelerates after 60 or if you have a sedentary lifestyle.  This leads to loss of strength and eventually reduced mobility. 
When you exercise muscles, those muscles pull on bone which helps strengthen your bones.

Also muscles burn calories, so as your muscle mass declines your metabolism lowers so that you may put on weight.

So do not delay - take steps to reverse muscle loss with the following yoga poses.

Start in Child's Pose.  Inhale onto all 4s, tuck your toes, exhale lift your hips into 
Downward Facing Dog  - Inhale, look forward bring your right foot forward by your right hand, exhale drop your back heel, turning your toes out at 45 degrees.  Inhale, get your balance and come up keeping the front knee bent and stretch your arms up towards the ceiling.  Breathe out, engage your core and straighten your front knee, breathe in and bend the front knee and continue working with your breath for several breaths.  Return to Downward Facing Dog and repeat second side.

Fierce Prayer  - come to standing and place a block between your thighs.  Breathe in and stretch your arms up, breathe out and bend your knees deeply.  Imagine you are preparing to sit in a seat that is placed a little too far back.  Hold for several breaths then inhale straighten your legs, exhale release your arms down.

Side Angle - To practice the pose come to the centre of the mat in Tadasana.  Step your feet wide and turn the whole of the right leg to the right, toes of the left foot turning in about 45 degrees. Ladies should line up front and back heels, men front heel to back instep. Bring your hands to prayer position.  Inhale stretch your arms out at shoulder height, exhale bend your front knee.  Inhale bring your right elbow to your right thigh, exhale circle your left arm down then up by your left ear.  With practice you may find that you can reach a block placed behind the right foot (remember a block has 3 levels) and eventually you may not need a block at all.  To come out of the pose, inhale windmill your arms up, straighten the front knee, exhale bring your hands to your heart, turn the feet to face forward.  Repeat on the second side.

Tree Pose - from standing take your weight into your left leg.  Find a drishti, a gaze point then bring the sole of the right foot to cup the left ankle, to the left shin or reach down and bring the right foot to the left thigh (never place the right foot on the knee).  Press the right foot into the left leg and press back into the right foot with the left leg. From this stability in the legs, inhale and take the arms up.  Keep the tail bone lengthening down towards the mat. Hold for several breaths then release on a breath out.  Repeat second side. Use a wall to help with balance if you need to.  Please see 'Lessons from yoga-It's ok to fall'-

Warrior 3 - from standing inhale take tour arms up, exhale hinge forward bringing your torso and raised leg into a T shape with the standing leg.  Hold and breathe then inhale to release. To modify bring your fingertips to a wall.

On the wellness blog, 40plusandalliswell we have been thing about other ways to keep muscles strong such as power walking and using a resistance band.  Please see 'The importance of maintaining muscle strength over 40- Part 1 Legs'-

Janet x

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