With just a mat and your own body weight for resistance, you can put together a workout routine to build strength at home. Give yourself the gift of extra time by skipping the gym and using these simple exercises:
How to do it: Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands directly below the shoulders and your knees directly below the hips, toes tucked under. Spread the fingers as wide as possible with the index and middle fingers pointing forward. Press through the webbing between the index fingers and thumbs, and spin the triceps away from your ears. Draw the navel in and lift your knees away from the floor, pressing the hips up and back to where the wall and ceiling meet behind you. Straighten the arms and legs so that the body forms an upside down V position. Lift the sits bones toward the ceiling while pressing your heels toward the ground. Make sure that the inner edges of the feet are exactly parallel. Firm the outer arms by wrapping the triceps underneath you and sliding the shoulder blades toward your tailbone. Keep your gaze relaxed, head between your upper arms, navel engaged and thighs lifted off the kneecaps. Hold the pose for 3–5 breaths at first, then increase to 5–8 breaths and 2–3 repetitions as you begin to build strength.
How to do it: Begin standing with the inside edges of the feet together. Bend your knees until they are as close to parallel with the floor as possible, and sit your hips back as if you are sitting in a low chair. Lift your arms alongside your ears with palms facing each other as the torso leans forward slightly over your thighs. Hold for 5 breaths at first, and increase to 8–10 breaths and 2–3 repetitions as you build strength.
How to do it: Start by lying on your belly with your arms next to your torso, palms face up and forehead resting on the floor. Lift your head, upper torso, arms and legs away from the floor. Engage your glutes and all the muscles along the back of your legs. Keep your legs hip-width distance apart. Lift your arms so that they are parallel to the floor, and gaze to the front edge of your mat so that your neck stays long. Hold for 3 breaths at first, and increase to 5 breaths and 2–3 repetitions as you build strength.
How to do it: Sit with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your torso straight, with your head in line with the body, lean back about 45 degrees as you raise your feet so that the calves are parallel to the floor. Hands can stay on your thighs for support, or reach your fingertips forward with arms parallel to the floor alongside your calves. To progress from here, straighten legs so that you are in a V shape. Hold for 3–5 breaths at first, then increase to 5–8 breaths and 2–3 repetitions as you build strength.
For more inspiration, check out my “Element: Yoga for Strength & Flexibility” DVD.