In honor of National Yoga month, here are two of my favorite strength balances. I chose to use these two because they were popular in fitness routines, a skill I used, and popular in yoga class. Practicing these tough balances can sure give a feeling of empowerment that can be carried into other areas of your life.
No time like the present, and with that in mind, it is time to learn and perfect “new” yoga strength moves for for just shaping your physique or for your fitness routine. Here are two poses that are terrific for core strength, balance, and great for shaping those shoulders and triceps.
I have decided to break down the “Dwi Pada Koundinyasana”, which can be translated to “two-legged side press”. Another variation is one leg arm balance, which looks like a side press with split twist, also known as “Eka Pada Koundinyasana”. I will explain two different variations and how you can advance them both.
Let’s start the breakdown by how to get in to Dwi Pada Koundinyasana pose. (Yes – this will take a considerable amount of shoulder strength, abs, and glute work for balance.) The shoulders should lean forward over your hands. The hands should be placed slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Both arms will maintain a slight bend in the elbows. Moreover, everyone has one side that is more flexible than the other, so try propping your legs on each shoulder to see which is more comfortable. (Another way to test your flexibility in your back is to lie on the floor with both arms to the right side and both legs to the left side, straight and in an L or V shape. One side should feel more comfortable as the back is stretched and twisted.) Lean forward and extend the bottom leg toward the side-front and parallel to the floor. Once you find your balance point, the other leg will be placed on the top. Now remember, even though one side will feel “easier” than the other side, it is very important to practice this movement on both sides, so you keep strength and symmetry in balance on both sides.
This skill can be advanced by adding a V-Straddle. Lift the top leg up towards the ceiling while the bottom leg remains balanced on the arm. The bottom leg should be placed between the shoulder and elbow. Another even more advanced variation is to add a push up in this pose. How? Balance! Keep your focus forward and down towards to ground. The elbows should remain pressed in toward your ribs as you bend towards the ground. (HINT: This is awesome when you add a beat or accent to your music as you do the push up!!) Try this first with the legs closed, then, see if you can try it with the V-Straddle. I used to use this push up variation in my routine.
The Eka Pada Koundinyasana, side press with split twist begins the same way. But instead of bringing the top leg up to balance on the other leg, it will extend back and up towards the ceiling. In this pose you will have to lean forward a little more to counter balance the length of the leg.
In addition, the twisted split press may be advanced by adding a push up. This requires more balance because the body is in a longer position. Make sure you can hold this balanced position for at least ten seconds before attempting the push up.
Both of the above skills are very difficult. If you begin now by practicing your skills in parts and building up the hold time for each of the positions, your strength will continue to improve. Give yourself enough time and patience to learn new skills. Challenge yourself and add new strength moves to your routine. What are you waiting for? Now is the best time is the best time to get started, right?!
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Be sure to leave a comment and share with me some of your FAVORITE yoga balances or strength moves.