YOGA AND FITNESS – START TODAY!

We try all to be or stay fit – with more or less luck! But what does fitness mean? Do you want to have muscles like a body builder, do you want to run like a marathon man? Or do you just want to be able to get up some steps and do not get out of breath? Do you want to perform everyday tasks without being physically exhausted? Whatever it means to you, there are different ways of getting the level of fitness you are aiming for.

 

WHAT IS FITNESS?

There are different areas in your body where you can measure fitness:

1. Cardiorespiratory Fitness

This means fitness of your heart, your lungs and blood vessels. It refers to the ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen to muscles during sustained physical activity. 

2. Muscular Fitness

This refers to the strength of your muscles, i.e. when you lift a weight, and to the endurance, i.e. how long you can hold it. When we do not exercise or with age we lose muscle mass which can result in weakness and also balance and coordination problems.

3. Flexibility

With age our muscles shorten and our tendons become more stiff. We cannot move freely as before, all our joints lose flexibility.

4. Body Composition

This means the percentage of fat, muscles, bones and organs.

DOES YOGA HELP TO GET FIT?

Studies in the US have proven that there is a strong relationship between practicing yoga and getting fitter. This study was conducted over 8 weeks and the participating students have increased their muscular strength by more than 30 percent, muscular endurance by over 50 percent, flexibility by as much as 188 percent. They have done 10 minutes of deep and controlled breathing, 15 minutes warm-up, 50 minutes yoga poses and 10 minutes meditation each week.

HOW DOES YOGA BUILD FITNESS?

One reason is that muscles get larger when stretched and use more oxygen in a shorter time. The increase in oxygen capacity leads to an increase in muscle endurance so that you can exercise for a longer period. Yoga poses also help to increase lung capacity by improving the flexibility of the ribs, shoulders and back so that the lungs can fully expand. Continuously linked poses like Sun Salutation increase the heart rate and many standing and balancing poses build strength because small and large muscles are involved in contractions. Being in tune with your body, your breath and your awareness allows you to work at your maximum fitness capacity.

YOGA POSES FOR FITNESS

Here are some of the most important poses to get fit:

BOAT POSE

Boat Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Sit with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hands beside your hips
  • Lean slightly back with a straight spine, shins parallel to the floor
  • Lift your chest and bring your arms forward with palms facing each other
  • Lengthen your torso, straight back and bring your legs to an angle of 45 degrees from the floor
  • Widen your shoulder blades
  • Keep the pose for up to 1 minute and come out of the pose

DOLPHIN PLANK POSE

Dolphin plank pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Start on your hands and knees, wrists under your shoulders, knees under your hips, lower your elbows to the floor
  • Tuck in your toes and step back with your body and head forming a straight line, heels over toes
  • Contract abdominals, make your shoulders wide
  • Hold the pose as long as possible, then release

DOLPHIN POSE

Dolphin pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Start on your hands and knees, wrists under your shoulders, knees under your hips, lower your elbows to the floor
  • Tuck your toes in and bring your knees off the floor, pelvis up, knees bent, widen shoulder blades
  • Straighten your legs
  • Gaze between your legs, hold up to 1 minute
  • Come out of the pose with an exhale

EXTENDED SIDE ANGLE POSE

Extended side angle pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Stand tall, shoulders down, arms at your side and head balanced
  • Turn to the left and bring your arms sideways up to shoulder-height, palms facing down, feet apart
  • Turn your right leg and foot 90 degrees outward, bend your right knee and thigh parallel to the floor, directly over your heel
  • Back leg straight
  • Lower your right arm with your forearm on your right thigh
  • Left arm straight towards the ceiling
  • Chest hips and legs in a straight line
  • Hold for up to 1 minute

FOUR-LIMBED STAFF POSE

Four limbed staff pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • From standing slowly lower your torso and legs to a few inches above and parallel to the floor, feet apart
  • Fingers spread wide apart, arms straight, tailbone tucked under
  • Legs hips and torso form a straight line
  • Heels pressed back
  • Keep the body in a straight line and lower down a couple of inches above the floor
  • Elbows at 90 degrees, shoulders and elbows one line
  • Hold for a couple of breaths and come out of the pose

LOCUST POSE

Locust Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Lie on your stomach, arms to your sides, forehead on mat, legs straight hip-width apart
  • Raise your head and lift chest and arms, palms facing towards the floor, lift your upper spine and arms towards feet
  • Lift your legs, weight on lower ribs, belly and front pelvis
  • Widen your chest across collarbones, should blades away from each other
  • Hold for up to one minute, release

PLANK POSE

Plank Pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Start by being on your hands and knees, wrists under your shoulders
  • Spread your finders and put pressure down through forearms and hands
  • Look down between your hands, lengthen your neck, draw in your abdominal muscles
  • Bring your toes in and step back, body and head one line
  • Pelvic floor muscles towards your spine, head in line with your spine
  • Press the front of your thighs up towards the ceiling
  • Hold for up to 5 minutes

REVOLVED TRIANGLE POSE

Revolved triangle pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Stand with your feet apart, right foot pointing forward, left foot turned out 90 degrees
  • Hips to the front of the mat towards your right leg, right hip back, left hip forward
  • Left hand to inside or outside of right foot, twist to the right, right hand towards ceiling, look at your right fingertips
  • Should blades drawn down and stay for 5 breaths
  • Come slowly out of this pose on the next inhalation
  • Repeat to the other side

UPWARD FACING DOG

Upward facing dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Lie face down on the floor, legs a few inches apart
  • Hands on floor alongside your body, fingers pointing to top of mat, elbows close to your rib cage
  • Press into floor with your hands, straighten your arms as much as you can and lift torso and legs off the floor
  • Press down through tops of your feet, engage leg muscles
  • Elbows alongside your body, shoulders away from ears, chest lifting towards ceiling
  • Press your shoulder blades into your upper back
  • Hold for up to 30 seconds

WARRIOR I

Warrior I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, arms at your sides
  • Step wide apart
  • Right foot out 90 degrees, left foot inwards at 45 degrees
  • Front heel aligned with the arch of your back foot, pelvis toward mat front
  • Press down through your left heel, bend your right knee over your right ankle
  • Reach up through your arms
  • Gaze up at your thumbs, shoulders away from ears
  • Press down with your back foot, back leg straight
  • Hold for up to 1 minute
  • Release by pressing your weight through your back heel and straighten front leg, arms lowered
  • Repeat on the opposite side

WARRIOR II

Warrior II

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, arms at your sides, turn left
  • On an exhalation step your feet wide apart, heels aligned with each other
  • Right foot out 90 degrees, toes pointing to top of mat
  • Back toes at 45 degrees
  • Lift through arches of your feet, rooting down through your ankles
  • Raise your arms to shoulder height, parallel to floor, palms facing down
  • Bend your front knee, knee over front foot, sink your hips
  • Press down through your back foot, back leg straight
  • Torso perpendicular to floor, head over tailbone
  • Gaze out across the tip of your middle finger, drop your shoulders, chest lifted, belly drawn into your spine
  • Hold for up to 1 minute
  • Come out and repeat on the opposite side

WARRIOR III

Warrior III

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, arms at your sides, turn left
  • On an exhalation step your feet wide apart, heels aligned with each other
  • Right foot out 90 degrees, toes pointing to top of mat
  • Left foot inward at 45 degrees
  • Bend your right knee over your right ankle, shin perpendicular to floor, raise arms overhead, palms facing each other
  • Press your weight into your right foot, lift your left leg, body parallel to ground, arms reaching forward
  • Left foot flexed, reach out through your heel
  • Leg muscles actively engaged, straighten your standing leg and continue to lift your left leg
  • Bring your torso, hips, arms and raised leg parallel to the floor.
  • Stretch your whole body, gaze at the floor in front of you
  • Hold for 30 seconds, come out by lowering your left foot back to the floor and lowering your arms
  • Repeat on the opposite side

 

HOW TO GET STARTED?

Choose the poses you like most and make a plan when and where to do them – do not give up if at the beginning it seems difficult. You will have to find time and a quiet spot in your busy life but this is not an obstacle you can’t overcome. Just think when and where you can do this. Take out a yoga mat, sit down and close your eyes. Start with a couple of minutes of deep breaths, then practice your favorite poses until you feel they are easy to remember and do. Then add some more and practice these until they can get incorporated in your yoga program. Doing yoga for fitness is much easier than going to a gym or joining a club, you can either do it on your own at home or find like-minded people in a yoga center. Most importantly, take time for yourself and use yoga for fitness. You will never want to miss it again!

12 thoughts on “YOGA AND FITNESS – START TODAY!

  1. Henderson Reply

    This is a very good post with some very good information to match. I have been doing yoga for a while now and I can tell you that it really does help me to keep fit but one thing I also know is that if one doesn’t match this with good diet, the essence of the yoga will not be met. I like the upward facing dog. That’s my favourite pose. Nice work!

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello Henderson
      thank you for your comment and you are quite right, a good diet will help a lot to reach your goals.
      I hope you will try all the poses and keep on going.
      Warm regards
      Angelika

  2. Rodarrick Reply

    Yoga and fitness really work hand in hand and this is a typical and good addition to ensuring one lives a life devoid of health issues. I practise yoga and yes, yoga can help to keep fit if it is done the right way. I like yoga especially because of the direct relationship it has with the mind and physicality. Simply great this is and worth reading over again.

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello Rodarrick
      thank you for your encouraging post – I am glad that you find it worth reading again.
      Good luck with yoga and WA
      Warm regards
      Angelika

  3. John Reply

    Yoga is one of my favourite anytime and even Everytime because it serves for me as a means of meditation which in other words interpretes to emotional and psychological fitness. I have been able to find peace with yoga so the answer is yes. Yoga can help one to be fit but that is if it is done diligently. Great info you have here on some good poses that I should try too.

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello John
      thank you for your comment. I am glad to hear that yoga helps you finding peace. And it is definitely not only body but also mind fitness which we get when doing yoga regularly. Keep the good work up!
      Kind regards
      Angelika

  4. Anthony Hu Reply

    Thank you for your post. I started my online business for a while now, have been working extremely hard, and have no time to do any exercises. Now I feel that my body is not in optimal conditions. I want to do something, but never take time to sort out which kind exercises I need to do.

    Here comes your article. It is so nice that all yoga you list are so easy and simple, can be done in any places. I particularly like the Dolphin Plank Pose, since I have big belly fat right now and really need to do something on it.

    It is kind of you sharing the useful yoga pose, which will certainly help my body.

    • Angelika Sesterheim Post authorReply

      Hello Anthony
      good to have your comment – it is easy to forget any exercise when you are so busy with WA, I do know that. But some of the yoga poses are really good to lose belly fat. My next post will specially tackling this issue – yoga and belly fat. It should be ready by next week – please check my webpage.
      And I wish you good luck, with yoga and WA.
      Kind regards
      Angelika

  5. Ann Reply

    I have been surprised with these poses. They are easy. The selection has encouraged me to give yoga a try. I hadn’t noted how closely linked were yoga and being fit.

    I have picked three possess and want to get started today. I’ll start with the boat, dolphin and dolphin plank possess.

  6. Paolo Reply

    Hi! I have been wanting to start yoga classes for a long time and being fit is one of my goals for this new year. So reading your post has been very useful. I hadn’t realized how easy these poses could be. I had always thought that they were for advanced persons in the yoga world.

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