Core Cardio and Upper Body

These classes are vigorous classes and you should expect to work very hard. You don’t need experience, just the desire to generate lots of heat.

As the title suggests, we primarily target the core, upper body with cardio using yoga posture sequencing while combining anaerobic exercise.

side-plank

After some preparatory stretches, we launch into our own style of sun salutations. The sun salutations are done very quickly, and without holding the down dog. We step back from samasahiti with the right leg into a lunge, without stopping continue stepping back into down dog. From there we drop into pose of eight curves (with knees and elbows off the floor) Pushing up into a back bend, and back to down dog. Next step forward with the left leg into a lunge, and without stopping bring forward the right leg into uttanasana. Finally rising into salute the sun. This makes one half round. Repeat starting left side. We do these for about two minutes each round, and with practise we can through twenty rounds each time. So that’s about 60 sun salutes per session. They make us work hard, raising the heart rate very quickly. This is followed by a resting/working period of Pidgeon both sides and a forearm plank sandwiched between. We do the full sequence for at least three rounds. This raises and lowers the heart rate alternately, which is anaerobic (without oxygen) This is the most efficient method of improving cardiac efficiency. The sun salutations also work on upper body and core, and the forearm plank is a brilliant core stabiliser. The Pidgeon is there, not only as a resting period, but to ensure the IT bands and quads get stretched.

After this we use the primary standing sequence with modifications. This is also a time for us to rest, but not too much. You will be encouraged to work the standing postures harder than you might usually, with verbal and hands on adjustments. This is a non stop class, so all adjustments will be minimal.

Next, we introduce variations of the warrior sequence, and balances. One variation to work the psoas strongly is a variation on Uttitha Hasta Pandangusthasana. To begin we lift the right leg, so the knee points to the ceiling, and the shin drops. Keeping the knee high, and standing straight will hit the psoas very quickly. We do this for three rounds each side. After this we raise the right leg for our Uttitha Hasta Pandangusthasana practise. We also work with warrior three modifications. We begin by taking the hands into prayer, lifting the knee high and the leg bent. We make ourselves as small as we can, and stay curled up. Then uncurling into full warrior three, which we hold for five breaths, and then with as much control as we can, and again slowly we curl ourselves back up into our starting position. This works the legs, psoas and core. We also use warrior variations with side plank, again this is done dynamically within a sun salutation sequence. This is usually done for at least five rounds.

These are some examples, and the class is varied every week. This part of the class is the top of our sequence, (vinyasa krama) and the most demanding. It will take you to your limits, and test your staying power and endurance.

The system is tried and tested over many years of self-practise. It quickly develops core stability and general strength. It includes well know yoga postures such as triangle, which not only strengthen the body, but keep it supple and well balanced. Cardio vascular endurance improves quickly and safely. The heart rate should increase in line with your practise, we should never feel distressed, or be panting for breath. This is counterproductive and potentially dangerous.  You will generate heat, but this will be internal heat (agni in yoga) again this will be safe, as opposed to hot yoga which if looked at scientifically is very unsafe.

To finish we do a number of floor stretches to release quadricep muscles, psoas muscles and IT bands. Finally resting in savasana.

Martin Thompson