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Yoga Poses to Prep Your Body for Your New Year's Fitness Routine

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Plank

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Strengthen your whole body in plank pose. Start on hands and knees. Step feet back so they are hip-width apart, keeping toes tucked and shoulders and wrists in line. Tuck chin slightly, keeping spine in line with body. Engage navel to spine and energetically reach back through heels while pushing through crown of head. Make sure shoulder blades are equally engaged down your back. Do not lock elbows. Breathe here for 30 seconds, then 40 seconds, then 50, then 1 minute. (Also try the plan variations in our 30-Day Plank Challenge!)

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Locust Lifts

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Strengthen and build flexibility in your back with locust lifts. Begin lying facedown on your mat, big toes together. Clasp hands behind sacrum. Use a big inhale to lift chest and feet off the ground. On the exhale, lower chest and thighs halfway down. Repeat this, lifting slightly higher every time for 10 to 20 reps.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Dolphin Push-Ups

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Dolphin push-ups are another great way to strengthen the entire body and work on mobility. Begin on hands and knees with forearms shoulder-width apart and parallel. Tuck toes, lift hips high, drop head, and reach chest back toward shins. This is dolphin. From here, look forward and reach chin toward thumbs on your inhale. Come almost to a forearm plank but not quite. On the exhale, engage navel to spine, and use core to lift hips back to dolphin. Do 10 to 20 reps and then rest in child's pose.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Downward Facing Dog

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Get those hamstrings, chests, and shoulders open with downward facing dog. Begin on all fours. Tuck toes and lift hips high, reaching sitz bones toward the ceiling. Reach heels back toward the mat. Drop head so that neck is long. Wrist creases stay parallel to the front edge of the mat. Press into the knuckles of forefingers and thumbs to alleviate pressure from wrists. Breathe here for at least 5 deep breaths.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Low Lunge Twist with Quad Opener

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Open your hips, quads, spine, and even your shoulders with this low lunge variation. From high lunge, frame front (right) foot with hands for a low lunge. Tap back knee to the ground and reach left heel toward butt. Reach right hand back to grab left foot. Alternate between bringing heel closer for a deep quad stretch, and pressing foot away for more of a twist and shoulder opener. Breathe here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Malasana Squat Kriya

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Solidify the strength in your core and lower body with this hip-opening kriya. From standing, heel-toe feet wide apart, pointing toes out so that hips are open. Start to soften and bend knees, releasing hips toward the ground, hovering above at whatever height feels good. Take elbows inside of thighs, lightly pressing them out, and take hands together like a prayer at the center of chest. Keep spine long. This is a Malasana squat. Take a deep breath here. On your next inhale, engage pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, reach prayer up high, lengthen arms, and lengthen legs as you come up to stand. On the exhale, come back to Malasana squat. Continue this movement, lifting and lowering, as fast as you can, for 1 minute.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

Chair Twist Kriya

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Loosen up your spine while you strengthen your core and lower body with this kriya. Stand with big toes together, outer edges of feet parallel. Bend knees and sink hips back as if sitting down in a chair. Reach arms high, framing face. This is chair pose. Inhale here to lengthen through spine. On exhale, take hands together at the center of chest in a prayer position. Twist to the right, placing left elbow outside right thigh, looking up over right shoulder. On the next inhale, come back to chair, and on the next exhale do the same twist to the left. On the next inhale, come back to chair. Repeat this, linking breath to movement for 1 minute at a quick, steady pace.

Photo: Heidi Kristoffer

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