Monthly Archives: February 2016

Strengthen Your Core

Toned Not Skinny
Improve core strength

What is Core Strength?

A good core strength is a great way to keep your body injury-free & healthy. Your core muscles include your abdominal muscles, back muscles & muscles around the pelvis; basically, any muscle that contributes to you maintaining a neutral spine.

Benefits

Having a strong core has many benefits, aswell as keeping you looking fit & toned. It can improve posture, meaning you’ll likely stand taller & more confidently. This makes you look leaner, in control & also helps to rid of (or prevent) back pain. Poor posture can lead to compressed discs in our spine & as a result, our quality of life can be affected negatively.
Core strength & stability also helps to protect our body: organs, nervous system, spinal cord, veins & arteries. A strong core helps to support every aspect of our body, allowing simple & more challenging daily activities to remain achievable.
There are many exercises that focus on your core muscles & it is important we keep our bodies balanced, as opposed to focusing purely on our abs. If we strengthen our abdominal muscles without strengthening our back muscles, for example, we are likely to suffer poor posture & back pain at some point. Balance is the key.

How Do I Improve Core Strength & Stability?

The plank is an excellent starter to build core stability. Once this becomes easy, you can raise a hand or opposite hand & leg. Once you are comfortable here, add a suspension trainer & keep building up the challenges as your strength increases. By practicing core challenges such as these, you also burn more calories & fat because you are working larger muscle groups, than basic ab crunches or similar.

Can you do a one armed press up?

TRX suspension trainers are generally an excellent way to train your core because you are required to keep yourself balanced at all times, despite working on an unstable surface. By using your abs, obliques & back muscles to stabilise your body, you are constantly keeping your core engaged.
Other popular options include the use of gym balls, balance plates & medicine balls; all of which are easily accessible & easy to use.
However, if you prefer to train without any equipment, this is perfectly feasible too. Ensure if you do ab crunches you also do back crunches. Positions such as Yoga Chair with crunches are excellent for building core strength without putting any strain on your back. Then there’s Boat pose, leg lifts on your stomach…the list is endless.

Put the corr in your core!!

Suspension Straps
Suspension Straps
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What is Fitness Yoga?

Yoga Relaxation

Fitness Yoga is my personal preferred form of Yoga, both to teach & to practice.
There are many forms of Yoga & with each form, every instructor is unique & will have their own slant & belief on how it should be interpreted.
I believe that Yoga is about the mind & body, & the unity of them with the breath. Fitness Yoga is a modern form of the ancient tradition, focusing on stretching, strengthening & toning the body using various postures. I believe it should also incorporate meditation, relaxation &/or breathing exercises.

What Will Fitness Yoga Do For Me?
Yoga is not only an exercise, it is a way of life & can benefit your physical & mental health in multiple ways. All forms offer a variety of these benefits; it is purely personal preference for which type you choose. By practicing, you become more aware of yourself: aware of how you feel, your physical well-being & mental health. You can not only improve your physical health but also improve your own willpower & focus, & rid of anxieties & stress. It’s also a great way to lose weight, improve metabolic rate & condition your body.

Who’s It For?
Fitness Yoga is suitable for everyone, & it is never too late to start. I’ve had people in their 70’s who have never practised any form before & who have never been big on exercise. I’ve also taught amateur boxers looking to improve their flexibility & focus their energy. Both extremes found the practice challenging, but achievable & benefit from their sessions. There are also many walks of life in between who I’ve had the pleasure of working with: all ages, shapes, sizes, men & women.

In short, I would describe a Fitness Yoga class as a blend of Hatha Yoga & Pilates. Fitness yogis tend not to get so caught up in the names of asanas, or traditions such as chanting, but instead just enjoy the practice & it’s benefits. I look forward to going into further detail with you about the benefits over the next few months.

www.fitnessyogawithemma.co.uk

Yoga Boat

No Gym, No Excuse…

Home workouts are a great way to exercise without the hassle of cost, travel or opening hours & they can be equally as effective as a gym workout.

Procrastination is so common when it comes to exercise & health: it’s too hot/wet, party season, diet starts tomorrow, the gym’s shut, I work late. The truth is, the most important thing you can do for yourself is look after your body & your health & you don’t need a gym or copious amounts of equipment to be able to succeed.

By using your body weight only, you can successfully tone, strengthen, burn fat & build muscle. Below are some of my personal favourite moves that can be done in the comfort of your own home, or even hotel room when travelling:-

Plank – My all time number one, favourite move. Planking is an excellent way to improve your core strength, with available options for beginners to prevent injury. It builds strength also in your upper & lower body, so truly is a great full body workout. There are also ways to advance the plank as you develop your strength: 1 leg, 1 arm, add a press up, etc.

Plank

Squats – A great calorie burner as you’re targeting large muscle groups. Squats are also an excellent way to increase lower body strength & again, work the core. Squats help to strengthen your entire body, including bones, muscles & joints, aswell as increasing flexibility. This results in reduced chance of injury, aswell as making you look good!

Squat

Half Bridge – An excellent posture to practice after doing planks; a half bridge can improve posture & prevent/improve back pain. It’s also a great move for working the glutes & hamstrings, strengthening the core & energising the body.

Half Bridge

Reverse Plank – As a plank freak, I also love the reverse plank (yes, & side too!). It strengthens your glutes, hamstrings, abs, lower back, shoulders, triceps & of course your core – what’s not to like?! Again, there are options for beginners (bent legs, on forearms) & developments for when you are more advanced, so it is great for a whole range of abilities.

Reverse Plank