I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘yogi’ my any means. However, as a dancer, we practiced a lot of yoga poses and incorporated elements of the practice into our classes and even choreography on a regular basis. Therefore, years ago I decided to start teaching Yoga, as a means to further enhance my understanding of the practice and aim to enjoy it a bit more. Going through the YogaFit Instructor Training was a great experience, that not only showed me how inflexible I was, but also taught me the basics of yoga poses and postures. Since taking that course 9-years ago, I have realized that “yoga” can be done anywhere, anytime, and in anyway. You don’t have to be in a dark & quiet room with everyone chanting to appreciate the benefits that yoga poses can provide.With this realization, I started to find ways of incorporating elements of yoga into all my classes and with all my clients. Today, all of my clients are regularly doing “yoga” and even my Bootcamp participants get a sprinkling of my favorite yoga postures into their workouts. I even had a lot of fun once teaching a “Yoga Rocks” class, where the entire class was done to rock music (that is MY type of yoga practice!)
If you are like me, and don’t find that a regular yoga practice is your calling, but want to get the benefits of the practice in your workouts, consider adding any of the below yoga flows to your classes and workouts. They are sure to produce a different workout experience for you and your participants.
- Downward Dog Flow / Vinyasa Flow
- Warrior 3 Flow
Downward Dog Flow / Vinyasa Flow
Strength, Stability, Flexibility
Downward dog is a very traditional yoga pose, yet one of the more complex postures. It can be a great addition to any class as it requires a great deal of upper body strength, shoulder stability, core control, and flexibility to really master the full technique. There are many variations that can be done to enhance either the strength or flexibility elements of the flow.
Start off teaching the basic flow (below), and then add in progressions as your participants master each of the elements.
This flow is a great active-dynamic warm-up, active recovery, or strengthening phase during any type of class.
3 Tips for Success
- A proper vinyasa should be done at a slow pace. This pace should be such that each pose is felt rather than just passed through without integrity.
- Maintain shoulder stability and engage the entire body, creating a balance of energy between the front and back of the body should be felt in plank pose. Often there is too much energy reaching forward, which puts pressure on the shoulders. There needs to be an isometric lifting of the legs. The head is looking a foot or two forward so the head is level and not hanging down. The hands are pressing firmly and evenly with the fingers wide apart.
- Downward facing dog is the resting pose of vinyasa. The weight is back toward the heels. The tops of the thighs are pressing back. If the upper back is rounding then the knees can bend to press the chest towards the thighs. It is important to lift the shoulders rather than collapsing or dipping them. The hands are pressing firmly. The forearms hug inward while the inner shoulders widen.
Warrior 3 Flow
Balance & Stability
How often do you challenge your participants balance?
Balance is the foundation of all strength and movement skills. Without a good base of support and the ability to transition from one move to another with stability and balance, a person will never be able to lift heavy or move well. Therefore, finding opportunities to challenge dynamic balance is key to success in group exercise classes.
Remember, balance is more than simply standing on one leg and doing an upper body movement, true dynamic balance is the ability to move from one plane to the next with control and ease.
The Warrior 3 Flow is a great movement progression as it teaches proper hinge patterns, single leg balance, core stability, and even promotes flexibility in the hamstrings. It is a great “active recovery” during bootcamp classes, or an amazing movement prep for a strength training class.
The below flow is shown with a ball between the hands to promote proper posture and alignment and engagement of those postural muscles.
3 Tips for Success
- This is another Vinyasa Flow, so focus on slow and controlled movement. Just like the downward dog flow, the pace should be such that each pose is felt rather than just passed through without integrity.
- Focus on the hinge movement pattern. A foundational movement pattern is a hinge from the hips. It is important for deadlifts, kettlebell swings, etc. This flow promotes that hinge from the beginning by lengthening the arms and pushing the weight back into the hips.
- Aim for parallel, but maintain flat back. The goal is to create a parallel line between your body and the floor in the Warrior 3 position. However, it is more important to maintain the integrity of the back in a long, flat, neutral position then try to lift the leg as high as possible.
We would LOVE to hear how you use these Yoga Flows & Postures in YOUR next class.
Share in the comments below, and post pictures on Social Media with #GXunitedChats.
- Photography by Michael Griffith
- Clothes courtesy of Sweaty Betty apparel