A Zen Cool Down on the Total Gym
Want to add a little mindfulness and fluidity to your post-workout cool down? A cool down that incorporates yoga movements in a flowing routine will leave you feeling lengthened and relaxed.
Yoga is an ancient tradition blending spirituality, meditation, and movement. The movement aspect is what Western society has come to understand as yoga. As yoga is becoming more popular, participants have started to embrace yoga’s meditation and relaxation aspects. Yoga has become accepted as a practice that can help decrease stress and anxiety and enhance strength and balance.
A great place to start when bringing yoga into your life is implementing a yoga cool down routine. You will soon learn that the more you understand the pose, the more awareness you can bring to your form and posture, and the more the intensity of the pose can be increased.
The below poses can be moved through and then repeated, or each pose can be performed 1-5 times prior to moving to the next pose.
1. Focus on avoiding elbows from locking up/hyperextending. If needed, maintain a slight bend in the elbows.
2. Ensure your hands are aligned with the shoulders and knees aligned with the hips. The tendency is to move the hands forward from the shoulders and knees behind the hips.
3. Feel the movement of the pelvis and spine. Create an awareness of where there may be tightness and breathe into it.
1. To make this pose easier to attain, move the hands and knees slightly away from each other.
2. Bring awareness to the sensations in the trunk. Rotate and feel the stretch along the sides and back of the ribcage as your reach under the chest, opening as you reach for the sky.
3. To make this more challenging, bend the reaching arm’s elbow and place the hand behind the head. Focus on keeping the stationary arm’s elbow straight and bringing the moving elbow toward the stationary hand.
1. Allow the body to stay upright and focus on bringing the hips to a parallel position. Note the tendency to rotate the pelvis backward toward the straight leg.
2. If there is tension in the bent knee, flex the foot by bringing the toes up.
3. To intensify the stretch, rotate the trunk toward the bent knee. The body can remain upright or bend forward toward the tower.
1. Create length in both sides of the torso by alternating arm reaches.
2. Allow the bent knee to be straight. In other words, do not turn inward.
3. The straight leg’s foot can be turned down or turned up to increase the stretch.
1. Facing away from the tower will create a greater stretch to the hamstrings and may not allow for an ideal spinal alignment. Turning to face away from the tower, the legs can be straight.
2. Focus on lengthening the spine. Think of yourself as growing taller, as if reaching the top of the head toward the sky, then rotate the trunk. Lean the torso slightly forward to help avoid slouching.
3. The bent knee’s foot may lie along the outside of the leg near the ankle, the knee, or above the knee. The greater the knee is bent the greater the stretch. Note that there should be equal weight along the sit bones, and if the knee is too bent, then the weight may become uneven.
Seated Forward Bend
1. Lengthen the spine toward the sky then bend forward. Visualize bending up and over an imaginary ball.
2. Opening the hips will ease the stretch. The legs may be shoulder width apart, or straddling with the feet on the floor.
3. Concentrate on pulling the shoulders away from the ears.
1. The position of the feet may influence the amount of hip opening: on the floor may allow for a greater stretch, on the squat stand allows for greater excursion, feet on the glideboard may feel more stabilizing.
2. Visualize reaching the knees over the toes as you lift the hips. This will help to maintain length on the back of the neck.
3. Ensure the knees are aligned with the ankles. If they are moving out to the sides, gently activate the inner thighs. If they are moving in toward one another, visualize or place a small ball between the knees.
Shoulder Stand with Leg Pulleys
1. If you do not have leg pulleys, perform it facing the tower at a low incline level.
2. A modification for this pose is hinging at the hips while maintaining the spine on the glideboard.
3. To avoid stress onto the neck, focus on lengthening the back of the neck and reaching the shoulders away from the ears.
1. Focus on the allowing the mind to be quiet. Repeating a phrase or thought can help keep the mind focused on one element.
2. Savasana is to allow for the integration of all that you have done in the workout. Take this moment to honor and congratulate yourself.
3. Breathe! Take the time to allow for full breath expansion. Gradually increase the count from 6 to 10 seconds for each inhale and exhale.