Sculpt and Shape
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Author: Yasmin Karachiwala
Towel Squeeze Stand up with a towel or Thera-Band in your hands behind your back, with your hands as close to each other as possible. Keep the arms straight and your palms facing backwards. Keeping your shoulders back, and your elbows straight, pull the towel/band apart for 2 seconds and hold, then release. Repeat this 5 times, 3 times a day. Shoulder Openers Stand with your upper arms glued to your sides, your elbows bent and your palms face-up. Hold on to something heavy in each hand (equal weight—maybe two water bottles). Keeping your upper arms by your sides, rotate the arms open and apart, while squeezing your shoulder blades together, then return to your starting point. This shoulder-blade squeeze is super-important. Do twenty repetitions, three times a day. Pelvic Curl Overall goal: Comprehensive leg and spine warm up. Postural significance: Strengthens the gluteals and hamstrings. Strengthens the deep intrinsic abdominals.Stretches the hip flexors (applicable to all postures). Set-up: Lie face up with the knees bent and feet placed flat on the mat. Heels should be a hip-width distance apart. Arms should be by the side with the palms facing down. Pelvis should be in neutral position. Inhale: Prepare for the movement and hold. Exhale: Engage the abdominals and curl the pelvis under by pushing the lower back into the mat. Slowly roll the hips up lifting the lower back off the mat first, then the middle back, then the upper back. Inhale: Prepare for the movement and hold. Exhale: Slowly roll back down through the spine, placing one vertebra at a time down into the mat. Be sure to end in neutral position. Notes: Keep the knees in parallel position. Don't let the head or shoulders lift off the mat. Repetitions: 10. Modification: For beginners or people with lower back pain, do not lift too high and move through a comfortable range of motion. Advanced: Bring one leg up off the floor into a tabletop position with the knee over the hip and the lower leg parallel to the mat. Continue the exercise with one leg down and one leg up for 10 repetitions. Then switch legs with one foot on the mat, and the other leg in a tabletop position. Supine Spine Twist Overall goal: Preparing the spine for rotation. Postural significance: Strengthens deep intrinsic abdominals and obliques. Strengthens hip flexors. (Applicable for all postures.) Set-up: Lie face up with the knees in a tabletop position, with the knees directly over the hips and the lower legs parallel to the mat. Place the arms out to the sides in a T position with the palms face down. Inhale: Lower both legs to one side, keeping the knees glued together. Keep the opposite shoulder down on the mat. If your shoulder raises off the mat, then your legs have gone too far. Exhale: Engage the abdominals and bring the knees back into the tabletop position. Inhale: Repeat on the other side. Exhale: Engage the abdominals and bring the knees back into the tabletop position. Notes: Don't let the top leg slide down from the bottom leg. Repetitions: 10 on each side. Modification: For beginners, keep the feet flat on the floor with the knees together and perform the exercise the same way. Advanced: After lowering the legs to one side, extend the knees and straighten the legs. Hold this for a breath and then bring the legs back to the centre, and return the knees back to the tabletop position. Hunchback-Posture Exercises Spine Stretch Forward Overall goal: Stretching the spine, strengthening the postural muscles and stretching the hamstrings. Postural significance: Strengthens back extensors, strengthens deep intrinsic abdominals. Set-up: Sit with the legs extended slightly wider than hipwidth distance. Flex the feet, bringing the toes towards the knees. Sit up tall on the sitz bones. Extend the arms out in front with the palms facing each other. Inhale: Prepare for the movement and hold. Exhale: Lower your chin to your chest and start to roll your spine down one vertebra at a time. Stretch the arms over the legs in front of you as if your arms are sliding on a table. Pretend that you are rounding over a small beach ball in front the abdominals. Inhale: Prepare for the movement and hold. Exhale: Engage the abdominals and begin to roll the spine back up, one vertebra at a time, until you reach your starting position. Notes: Make sure the shoulders stay down and away from the ears. Repetitions: 10. Modification: For tight hamstrings, bend the knees slightly or sit up on a yoga block to help straighten the legs. You can also perform this exercise up against a wall to feel the articulation of the spine against a flat surface for better results. Advanced: After rounding forward, lengthen the spine into a flat-back, diagonal position and bring the arms up parallel to the ears. Round forward again and roll up into the starting position. Side Bend Overall goal: Strengthening the shoulders and obliques. Postural significance: Strengthens obliques. Stretches latissimus dorsi. Set-up: Sit facing one side with all your weight on one hip. Bend your knees slightly and place the top leg just slightly in front of the bottom leg. Place your bottom hand about six to twelve inches away from the hip, with the fingers facing away from the pelvis. Rest your top arm on your top leg. Inhale: Lift your pelvis up off the floor and raise your top arm up towards the ceiling. Create a diagonal line with your body from the top of your head to your feet. You should have a diagonal T shape of the body. Exhale: Lift your pelvis up higher and bring your top arm overhead, creating a rainbow shape. Look down at your bottom hand. Inhale: Release the rainbow shape and return to the diagonal line. Exhale: Bend your knees and lower back down into your starting position. Notes: Make sure the shoulders stay down and away from the ears, especially the bottom shoulder. Repetitions: 10. Modification: Keep your bottom leg bent with the knee on the floor beneath the hip. Keep the top leg straight out with the foot on the mat. This will reduce the pressure on the arms, shoulders and abs. Advanced: When lowering, keep the legs straight and lower as much as possible without touching the mat, then repeat the exercise again without resting.