Posted: Updated:

After a long day of work or before, if that’s your preferred workout time, there are curtain “musts” that we deem as a priority when going through the motions of our routine. For me, in a perfect world, I’ll warm-up; stretch & foam roll and then hit the weights. If I have enough time, I’ll wander into the cardio area and knock out some time burning off those late night snacks! More times than not, life does a wonderful job at throwing a curve ball into my “pre-allotted” gym time and I find myself choosing only what’s important for my work out that day. Whatever falls to the bottom of YOUR fitness priorities are the areas I challenge you to be more consistently proactive!

For me, a huge area that I toss to the wayside is my pre and post workout stretching. For a guy who preaches constantly the benefits of stretching, I find that it’s the easiest for me to neglect. Even when holding myself accountable to pre and post stretching, I often find that I’ll sell myself short and only do what I feel is necessary. Never do I push myself to my full capabilities when doing something that I find is difficult or just not to my liking (don’t tell my clients!)  Recently, however, I’ve decided to put my lack of enthusiasm for stretching into the professional’s hands by taking part in a structured Yoga program!

Yoga offers multiple benefits from the person trying to increase overall flexibility to the person focusing on strengthening the core. Yoga will not only increase your ROM (range of motion) for needed flexibility but will also challenge multiple, secondary stabilizer muscles making it easier to balance, walk and perform basic household tasks many take for granted. 

I can still remember the time I participated in my first Yoga class. Having my own belief system as a big strong, bodybuilding trainer, group fitness classes and especially Yoga, were not on my “to do” list of daily activities. It wasn’t until a former employer, whose company policy was to force participation in group fitness classes, exposed me to the very classes I opted never to do! Having my choice of various classes to choose from, I chose to take the easy route by jumping into the easiest class I could, Yoga. Did I say “easy?”  Boy was I wrong! Thinking my core was top notch, Yoga humbled me when holding poses for even a few seconds not to mention my heart was beating at such a level, I thought others could hear my heart pounding in my chest! To add insult to injury, I figured that there would be no way possible to challenge my large muscles for they were capable of lifting much heavier amounts than just my own body weight. I had achy muscles in places I didn’t know I had muscles! As I’m surrounded by class participants twice my age or women half my weight, let’s just say I have a new found respect for the level of conditioning of the committed Yoga goer!  Today is my day to cut you a piece of the same humble pie that now tastes so good! Below are a few challenging Yoga moves that’ll have you listed as a twisted, bodacious, Yogalicious, flexible, unbreakable warrior!

Cat Pose
Start on hands and knees in a "tabletop" position.Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor. As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor, but don't force your chin to your chest. Inhale, coming back to neutral "tabletop" position on your hands and knees.

Cow Pose
Start on hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor. Inhale; lift your rear and chest toward the ceiling, allowing your belly and lower back to sink toward the floor. Lift your head to look straight forward. Exhale, coming back to neutral "tabletop" position on your hands and knees. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Extended Child’s Pose
Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Broaden your sacrum across the back of your pelvis and narrow your hip points toward the navel, so that they nestle down onto the inner thighs. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck. Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Hold from 30 seconds to a few minutes. To come up, first lengthen the front torso, and then with an inhalation lift from the tailbone as it presses down and into the pelvis.