As we age it easier to put on weight, the metabolism slows down so we need to watch the energy intake and output more closely. Hormones also affect how and where we store fat on our body.
My aim is to show you a variety of poses which lengthen the spine and make you move around the waist.
I used props to make the poses more accessible for people who are not very mobile or not very steady on their feet. Work with your body intelligently – do what suits you on a given day!
Remember to do the poses on both sides – holding for equal amount of time, maybe count your breath!
Let’s start with some standing poses.
Apart from helping to trim down we also strengthen the ankles and legs and open the chest – which creates more space for the lungs to do their job. Having the wall behind us helps with alignment. Note that I keep my elbows and knees slightly bent as I have flexible (hyper extending) joints. If you micro bend the arms and legs you will protect these joints, you will not overload them.
Feet are about 1m apart, right toes turned in, heel is wider. Keep the left heel roughly in line with the right inner arch. If you are not steady move the left foot ‘backwards’. Stand tall, on exhalation take the hips to the right, create space in the left side. Place your left hand on a chair or block or on the inside of your left shin. For some of you the fingers might even touch the floor! Aim to keep the arms in line with the shoulders.
Parsvokonasana (side angle pose)
The feet are wide, say 1-1.2m apart. Left forearm is resting on the left thigh. This is the therapy version. The anchoring points are the right heel and left big toe-base. Aim to keep the left thigh parallel to the floor, shin is vertical. This pose is also very good for lower back problems.
What I love about yoga is the variety. As you can see below twists can be done sitting on the floor, sitting on a chair or standing.
For these twists the common theme is: as you inhale lengthen the spine and and turn on exhalation. Stay in one spot for a few cycles of the breath and then twist more on exhalation. Head turns last. Visualise the big vertebraes in the lower back (which don’t turn much) the thorasic spine (which is flexible) and last the small, delicate vertabraes of the neck. Turn your head carefully! Keep your eyes soft, chin parallel to the floor.
If you do the twist on a chair use your hands to assist you, one hand is pulling the torso the other is pushing it away. Keep your elbows wide. The block between my thighs has two purposes: work the inner leg and allows the twist to generate from the spine not from the hips.
The standing version needs more props and they are recommended for the management of scoliosis as well.
There are a number variations for this group of poses, see below: a standing pose, sitting and resting the forehead on a chair.
In the standing pose the legs are working and the upper body is resting. Pull up your knee caps and quadriceps, this will open the back of the legs.
For the seated variation shit on a folded blanket and support the knee. By sitting higher you will go forward by tilting the hips, keeping the spine long.
For the chair variation have enough elevation on the chair to allow you to rest forehead. The skin on the forehead to extend from the hairline to the eye brow – it is relaxing!
In this variation I rest my sacrum on two blocks, if you do not have blocks use a couple of books. Aim to keep the chest open and the legs to vertical. It is OK to keep one foot on the floor and swop over.
Other poses in the inversions are shoulder stand and head stand – both of them are for experienced students only.
All practice should finish with Savasana (the pose of the corpse) meaning we stay still. To be able to stay still we need to find a symmetrical comfortable position. Not doing a relaxation is a bit like not saving your document on the computer!
Enjoy your practice and hope regular practice will help you to shed some of the excess weight!