Get fit – at home or at your desk – with these eight exercises. By Lauren Watters
The idea of exercise is lovely: running on the open road with a breeze in your hair, working up a light sweat in the gym or enjoying evening meditation in a yoga class. Sound tempting? Of course it does! But actually lacing up your takkies or slipping on those yoga pants is the real challenge for most of us.
Finding the time – and energy! – to squeeze exercise into a full week of work, meetings, late nights and early mornings is near impossible, not to mention the expensive gym memberships, private classes and home-exercise equipment.
What if we said there was a far simpler way to boost your fitness and work out? These moves will leave you feeling fitter in no time.
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Cape Town-based hatha yoga instructor Deevya Vasson Lalla shares her simple five-step sequence to get your heart rate up, blood pumping and all those muscles working a bit more. ‘Do these poses in sequence,’ says Deevya. ‘Hold them for three to five breaths to give your body and mind time to adjust to the pose.’
Begin on all fours – knees underneath hips, wrists underneath shoulders, and palms and fingers spread flat. Pull your belly inwards, look towards your knees and slowly lift them off the floor as you straighten out your legs. Keep your shoulders activated by drawing them down and away from your ears. Your aim is to get your heels flat on the mat. Walk your feet forwards to make the pose comfortable.
Deevya’s tip ‘Imagine making an inverted V. Keep bringing your chest closer to your knees without moving your hands.’
Move your weight forwards towards the floor, with your wrists just slightly ahead of your shoulders. Activate your core by pulling your belly inwards. Keep your hips level and avoid dipping or lifting them too high.
Deevya’s tip ‘Do this in front of a mirror so you can see the correct angle for your hips.’
Bend your elbows, keeping them close to your sides, and lower your body until you’re just a couple of centimetres from the floor. Keep your core and your legs activated by pushing your heels into an imaginary wall behind you.
Deevya’s tip ‘Concentrate on a single spot on the mat in front of you to help create length in the neck.’
Transition into this pose by pushing back into Pose 2 or putting your knees on the floor and moving into a high plank. Put weight on to your left hand before lifting your right arm towards the ceiling and resting your right foot on top of the left. Now keep your arm straight and shoulder activated. Hold and repeat on the opposite side
Deevya’s tip ‘If you’re just starting out, put your right foot in front of the left for better balance.’
Come back into high plank, lower your knees to the floor and push back into Pose 1. Walk your feet between your hands and raise your left leg. Keep your hips square and flex your foot to activate your leg. Rise up on to your fingertips, lengthen your spine as you look ahead and lift your arms off the floor to form a straight line. Hold and repeat on the other side.
Deevya’s tip ‘This pose, when done correctly, should resemble the letter T.’
When it comes to getting fit on a busy schedule, office workouts are the way to go and Gayle Lazarus, founder and owner of Woodstock Pilates in Cape Town, has some easy moves you can do behind your desk.
‘Sit down on your office chair, or on a Pilates ball,’ says Gayle, ‘with your back up straight, your hands on either side of your hips and a telephone book under your feet.’
Lengthen your body from your pelvic floor through the centre of your spine into your neck.
Turn your head from side to side, looking over each shoulder. Make small circles with your head as if you were drawing with your nose. Shrug your shoulders up towards your ears and then drop them down.
Place your hands behind your head with your fingertips touching the back of your head. Move your elbows inwards (breathe in) and outwards (breathe out) to coincide with your breathing.
Glide your chin towards your chest, then out and up towards the ceiling.
‘Next, stand up straight with your back against a wall,’ says Gayle. Adjust your feet and legs diagonally forward, and keep your pelvis and spine against the wall. Slide down the wall, then push up through your feet, lifting your heels off the floor. Repeat five to 10 times. You can add marching feet, walking on the spot and raising your right, then left, heel.
Stand sideways with one hand on the wall slightly in front of your body. Place your opposite leg out to the side, lifting it just off the floor and holding it just behind your body. Perform a series of leg lifts and lowers, then make little circles with your free leg as you lift and lower. Start with three circles each way and work up to five.
Meet the experts
Deevya Vasson Lalla
083 954 7695
Facebook: Yoga With Deevya
083 675 3793