WOMEN’S FITNESS

Shape Up with

By Caroline Sandry Photos: Shot on location in Antibes courtesy of JPP pics

Yoga has been practised for centuries, and is known for its many health benefits. Its appeal is timeless and stretches across the universe, from its humble beginnings in India, to the larger than life celebrity followers in the 21st century western world.
oga appeals to many women as although it can be seen as a gentle form of exercise it can deliver powerful results – think of Madonna or Geri Haliwell’s amazing physiques. The Yogi or Yogini’s body is generally slim, flexible and well toned. Arms can become defined, but never

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Sun Salutation
The following dynamic sequence is called a ‘sun salutation series’. It will stretch, strengthen and energise the entire body. Try to focus on coordinating your breath with the movement, keeping the sequence fluid and continuously moving. The sun salutation is also a fantastic wake up in the morning, or
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Yoga appeals to many women as although it can be seen as a gentle form of exercise it can deliver powerful results – think of Madonna or Geri Haliwell’s amazing physiques
bulky, and according to what type of yoga you prefer you can build amazing strength and stamina throughout your entire body. The following Hatha yoga postures are chosen to condition the entire body from top to toe. If you are new to yoga then take your time getting comfortable in each position. Never push yourself beyond comfortable – there should be no competition. And always practice yoga on an empty stomach, as the postures work on your internal organs as well as your outer physical structure. a good warm up for most sports… Each posture is explained in detail. If you are new to yoga, take the time to practice each posture individually before doing the sequence – detailed exercise descriptions follow.

Exhale and as you inhale circle your arms out to the side and up overhead, then bring the palms together and stretch up and slightly back, extending your chest upwards towards the sun. Exhale and fold forward from your hips into ‘Forward Bend’, bending your knees in order to place your hands on the floor. Inhale and step the right leg back into a lunge position, and then hold the breath as you step the left leg back to form a ‘Plank’. Exhale and lower yourself into the ‘Crocodile’. Inhale up into the ‘Cobra’. Exhale and push hips back and up into – ‘Downward Dog’. From Downward Dog, look up and inhale as you step your right leg forward to lunge again. Exhale and step both feet together into ‘Forward Bend’. Inhale and reach and stretch the arms back overhead. Exhale back to Mountain Pose.

Take a couple of deep, steady breaths and start the sequence again, stepping back on the left leg this time. Start out with three repetitions of the sequence, and build up to six.
The following postures can be practised individually. I recommend practising the sun salutation series, and then holding each of the following postures for 3 to 4 breaths – unless otherwise indicated. Use ‘child pose’ to rest when needed, and always work with a calm mindset. Never rush your yoga, and try to stay fully aware in each posture, listening to your breath and listening to your body.

Stand up straight with your feet together and arms reaching down towards the floor in ‘Mountain pose’. Gaze straight ahead, stand very tall, straight and centred. Inhale…

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WOMEN’S FITNESS
exhale to bend your elbows and lower your chest between your hands. Stop when your upper body is just above the floor with your elbows in tight by your sides. Tuck your toes under and lift your knees to straighten your legs, lowering your body until you are parallel to the floor. Exhale, rest for a couple of breaths before returning to all fours and repeating. (Beginners can keep knees on the floor until they develop the strength to practice the full posture)

Lunge
This stretches and opens the front of the hips and builds strength in the legs and back From an all fours kneeling position with your palms pressed into the floor and arms long, exhale and bring your right leg forward between your hands so that your right knee is directly above your ankle. Sink your hips towards the floor stretching out the front of the left hip. Come up onto your fingertips if this is more comfortable. As you advance, you can tuck your left foot’s toes under and step the foot back a little to deepen the stretch. Lifting the back knee from the floor and placing the hands gently on the thigh will advance this further.

Mountain Pose
good for focus and postural awareness Stand straight with feet together or hipwidth apart. Your weight should be in the centre of your feet with toes resting lightly on the floor. Shoulders should be open and wide, with arms relaxed but extended toward the floor. Lift the chest and elongate the abdomen. Eyes gaze softly forward and breath is long and focused.

Cobra
great for countering rounded shoulders and strengthening the upper back and shoulders Lie on the floor with face down and legs together. Place your hands under your shoulders with your fingers in line with collar bones and spread wide. Keep your elbows tight against your sides. Inhale and lift upwards from the sternum and chest, keeping the neck long. Exhale to slowly come back down.

Plank
a great core strength exercise – popular in general sports and conditioning. Strengthens abs, back and shoulders From an all fours position with knees, hipwidth apart and palms pressed into the floor, straighten the legs supporting your weight on your hands and toes. Tuck your tailbone under slightly and keep your abdomen drawn in flat toward your spine. Hold the body dead straight like a plank and breathe steadily.

Downward dog
a calming inversion which strengthens the arms, shoulders and back whilst lengthening the entire back of the body From all fours with knees hip-width apart and palms pressed into the floor, exhale and lift your hips up and back. Keep knees bent to begin with, and then gently straighten the legs, extending the heels towards the floor. Keep lifting the hips high and slide the shoulder blades down the spine, away from your ears. Breathe evenly as you hold the posture, and exhale to bend knees and return to the floor. Rest in child’s pose afterwards. (Beginners or those with high blood pressure can rest their hands on a chair, in a ‘half downward dog’. If you have a back problem, keep knees bent throughout.)

Forward bend
stretches the entire spine and hamstrings, a calming inversion From mountain pose inhale and stretch arms up overhead. Exhale and fold forward from the hips, reaching arms forward as you fold down. Try to keep your back as straight as is comfortable and bend your knees to accommodate hamstring length/tightness. Allow your upper body to rest on your thighs and keep the back long. Breathe steady. As you progress, lift you sitting bones upwards - lengthening through the back of the legs – exhaling to take the stretch deeper. (Beginners or anyone with high blood pressure can do a half-forward bend – resting the hands on the back of a chair, keeping their back parallel to the floor.)

Crocodile
a challenging static posture which strengthens the arms, back and abdomen Start on all fours with knees under your hips and your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Inhale to prepare, and

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WOMEN’S FITNESS

One leg bridge Warrior 11
opens hips, strengthens back, thighs and hips, stretches adductors. Great for stamina From mountain pose, step the feet wide apart. Turn the right foot forwards and the left foot slightly forwards. Inhale and lift arms to shoulder height, exhale and bend the right knee until the knee is above the ankle. Lift the chest and reach to make the arms long. Turn the head to gaze along the right arm and continue to breathe steadily Keep the left leg strong and straight. Inhale as you straighten the right knee and turn feet back to parallel. Repeat on the left leg. a strong backbend and gentle inversion, opens the chest and spine, strengthens thighs, buttocks and spine Lie on your back on the floor, knees hipwidth apart. Exhale and push hips up to form a straight line form knee to hip to shoulder. Beginners rest here. Place hands under the lower back and pelvis – fingers outwards and gently lift hips higher into a backbend (beyond a straight line). Exhale, engage abs and raise the right leg high above the right hip. Hold and breathe. Lower the leg, find your balance and exhale to lift the left leg. When you return the hips back to the floor, hug your knees to your chest and gently rock form side to side for 10 breaths.

Dolphin
strengthens the shoulder girdle, upper back, arms, core and abs On all fours, lower down onto elbows. Ensure elbows are shoulder-width apart by wrapping your fingers around each opposite elbow, and then clasping your

Warrior 1
strengthens entire lower body, builds stamina and balance From lunge position, inhale and engage abs as you rise into standing lunge. Lift the arms up alongside the ears. Squeeze your bottom and keep your abs tight as you hold and breathe steady. Keep the legs active – tensing the thighs and drawing up through the pelvic floor. Or from mountain pose, step one foot forward, stretch the arms out at shoulder height, and bend your front leg until the knee is above and in line with the ankle as you lift your arms up beside your ears. Hold steady and keep your legs strong and grounded, pressing the back heel into the floor and squeezing the buttocks.

If you are new to yoga, take the time to practice each posture individually before doing the sequence
hands together in front of you. Raise your hips toward the ceiling so your body forms an inverted ‘V’. Inhale to rock your body forwards, so that your chin comes over and in front of your hands, exhale to push back to starting ‘V’ position and repeat 8 to 10 times in time with your breath. (Beginners can start on the knees and build up to full position. This is not suitable for anyone with a neck or shoulder injury)

Boat
strengthens abs, back and hip flexors Sit up tall, with legs out straight. Place your hands behind you on the floor and lift your chest. Exhale to bend your knees and lift your feet from the floor. Inhale to balance, and exhale to bring your arms forward – parallel to the floor. Hold here and balance keeping your navel drawn into your spine. To advance - straighten the legs and hold.

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Cat series
great for spine mobility, strengthens core and arms On all fours like a cat place your hands under your shoulders with your palms pressed into the floor and shoulders away from your ears. Engage navel to spine and straighten one leg behind you, inhale to bend elbows and lower chest between your hands. Keep your elbows in tight to work triceps. Repeat 8 to 10 times and the come back to all fours. Exhale to extend your other leg, and take your hands slightly wider, with fingertips pointing slightly inwards. This time lower chest between hands with elbows wide, to work the chest. Repeat 8 to 10 times.

Child Pose
stretches the spine, relaxes the body. Perfect counter posture to any backbends or as a rest between postures Sit your bottom on your heels, and rest your forehead on the floor. Let your shoulders, neck and arms completely relax and breathe deeply.

After each yoga session, rest in ‘Sivasana’ (Corpse pose) for around 5 minutes: lie flat on your back with legs shoulderwidth apart, arms out stretched and palms turned up to the ceiling. Consciously relax each part of your body and breathe slowly into your abdomen. Yoga can be practised every day. If you have any form of back, neck or shoulder injury, then please consult a doctor or specialist before attempting this yoga series. UF

Caroline wears - top by No Balls, shorts by USA pro & trainers by Asics.

WOMEN’S FITNESS

extra!
Gaiam have a great selection of Yoga DVD’s to try at home. We love Ashtanga Yoga for beginners with instructor Nicki Doane. The DVD features great extras such as a pose guide, advanced Ashtanga demo and an interview with Nicki. Ashtanga Yoga is a challenging form of yoga that will help yo strengthen and tone whilst increasing the heart rate. Available from - www.clearvision.co.uk

Yamarama is mix & match yoga/active wear. Designed and tested by an experienced Bikram yoga teacher. Designed with technical fabrics such as SUPPLEX™ they are stylish, comfortable and ready to cope with the heat of Bikram! I am loving the outfit - it is really flattering, supportive and moves well with your body. All garments are flat - seamed and have heat transfer labels to prevent skin irritation, inbuilt waist panels and bras for support and pre-shrunk fabric for a length that lasts. Pictured are the Give Me Strength Vest in Violet, £40 and the Karma Capris, in Violet/Black £55.00. Prices range from Bras at £30 to Capri trousers from £50 to £60 Available at www.yamarama.com

The Organic Pharmacy has wonderful pure products that reflect the Yogi ethos - Rose Face Mist is a wonderful calming spray to freshen up during or after your yoga session, (it is heavenly after Bikram yoga!) and the peppermint and manuka honey foot cream will keep your feet in great condition for the mat. Also available are some beautiful scented candles to create your own ‘zen’ atmosphere at home. www.theorganicpharmacy.com

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Tops
u Whether running, working out in the gym or at home, you want clothing that is stylish, practical, easy to care for and competitively priced. ultraFIT has cast its eagle eye over the market and has come up with four great Asics Inner hirt workout tops. scle Tee s
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Inner muscle is a highly innovative range of garments from Asics. It's designed to provide support for your skeleton. The kit help train your own inner muscles (the smaller, stabilising postural muscles) and stabilises scapula movement. It supposedly also increases breathing volume by using a diamond shaped panel which subtly pulls the shoulder blades together and helps straighten the spine, thus opening up your lungs. I can’t promise you this, but wearing the top definitely gave a feeling of support and during longer training runs when your posture might suffer, this will remind you to stay tall and straight. It also looks great on. www.innermuscle.co.uk
The bran d name its most ult raFIT gir elf is great, alth ough ls do ha Our hot ve balls! favourite is the Fit top - £3 ness Cro 9, made ssover in luxuri perform ously so ance fab ft, silky ric which super- fa breathe st drying sa . The sh flattering ape is su nd is and is g per reat for (Caroline larg wears th is for the er busts. see pag e 22) Yoga wo rkout www.no balls.co.u k

Top Sports

nder review

elliegray
elliegray have a lovely feminine range of workout wear suitable for the gym, Yoga or Pilates. They also have great every day wear. We have chosen this cool yellow crossover vest because it looks great on, is very comfortable and comes at a great price of £6 at present (sale price) www.elliegray.com

No Ball s

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Always associated with performance and style, Adidas have created a real winner. This Supernova Graphic Racer top is a great colour, has a superb fit and is made from great fabric – it is peachy soft and stretchy. The built in support actually has a bra style fastener for a close fit, and the cut of the shoulder is incredibly flattering. Perfect for any sport or workout. £27 from www.adidas.com

adidas

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