Yoga pose of the month: Improve balance with leg lifts

Balancing yoga poses help you focus and concentrate and build strength in the core, hips and legs. Try this series of leg lifts to improve your balance

Yoga pose of the month: Improve balance with leg lifts

Source: Web exclusive: September 2010

September, though a beautiful, colourful month, can also be challenging on many levels. It’s clear that the seasons are changing, kids are returning to school, our diets alter, and consciously and unconsciously we start gearing up for shorter days and dips in temperature.

It’s for this reason that I’ve chosen ‘Leg Lifts at the Kitchen Counter’ as the September pose of the month, a Kitchen Yoga balancing pose that will bring focus and concentration to your busy fall schedule and keep you grounded through the flux and change. Balancing poses build core strength (the never-ending process) as well as strengthening hips and leg muscles. They’re also weight bearing so are excellent for increasing bone density, something we all need, whatever age or stage.

Because Leg Lifts at the Kitchen Counter increases stability, and endurance, it’s a terrific pose for all sports that need strong legs and flexible hips, i.e., running, hiking, biking, golfing and swimming’and this includes increased endurance needed for those extended shopping hours at the mall!

Top 5 benefits:

‘ Increases balance, focus & concentration
‘ Strengthens hip, knee and ankle joints
‘ Strengthens leg muscles & spine
‘ Builds core strength
‘ Weight bearing, thereby increases bone strength

Off-the-mat suggestions:

‘ At the office, next to your desk or at the water cooler
‘ At the bathroom sink or countertop
‘ Against a secure handrail or banister
‘ The back of a sofa or chair
‘ Outside in the sunshine

Contraindications:

‘ Recent knee or hip surgery
‘ Certain rotator cuff injuries

The steps:

1. Take a nice deep slow breath to centre and ground.
2. Bend and lift right knee, interlace fingers under thigh, flex foot and breathe for 3 slow, deep breaths. (Hold on to kitchen counter throughout if necessary.)
3. Keep interlaced fingers under thigh, straighten leg and breathe 3-6 slow, deep breaths.
4. On next breath, contract abdominal muscles (core) and slowly circle arms up over your head and breathe for another 3-6 breaths.
5. On your last exhale, lower arms and leg, turn in the opposite direction and repeat on the other side.

NOTE: if you’re new to balancing poses and are unable to complete all the steps, stay in any one of the stages and keep breathing. If you practice regularly, you’ll be able to complete the entire pose before you know it!

Remember, Kitchen Yoga is a state of mind, so slip in a pose or two wherever you are. If you practice Kitchen Yoga for 2-5 minutes a day you’ll add 30+ extra minutes of yoga a week without planning, organizing or re-scheduling. Simple! And don’t forget to check back next month for the October kitchen yoga pose.

Kitchen Yoga is available at www.ruthshawyoga.com in both print and ebook versions.

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