Make a note after each exercise about how you get on. For example:
- How hard did you find it on a scale of 1 – 10?
- How many repetitions did you do or how long did you hold the pose?
The idea is not that you can do everything perfectly the first time. In fact, if you already find these easy, you need to increase the reps or the length of time you hold the pose until it feels tough!
1. Leg lifts with a block
This first exercise will test your lower abdominal strength and your adductors (the muscles along the inner thighs). The lower your feet are to the ground, the harder this will be. It’s pretty hard to judge this so use a mirror or film yourself to see how far off the ground your feet are. Check your lower back, there should still be a natural arch in the lumbar spine.
This exercise will help with poses like Half-Boat, Crow, Tolasana and lots more!
2. Forearm Plank
Forearm plank will test your abdominals, serratus anterior and also your upper body strength. Keep the space between your shoulders lifted and your front body firm. You can also do this with your knees down. Make a note of any variations you make for all the exercises. How long can you hold the pose? Did you notice any muscle shakiness?
Forearm Plank holds will improve poses like Chaturanga Dandasana, Arm Balances and Warriors.
3. Leg side swings
Test your obliques with this exercise. Again make a note of any variations you use. Are your knees bent or straight? Inhale as you lower the legs, exhale as you raise them. Repeat ten times each side. Keep going if your tenth repetition is the same quality as the first one!
Strong obliques will help you with standing balances like Tree Pose and inversions like Handstands or Headstands.
Core strength also involves the muscles of the back and it is important not to overtrain the front body at the expense of your back. Locust Pose will act as a counter pose to the previous exercises and it’s a good test of the muscles of the backs of the legs and arms as well as the back. Make a note of how long you can hold the pose for but come out of the pose if you have any pain in your lower back. Finish off with Child’s Pose or bent knee Downward Facing Dog.
Locust Pose prepares you for the deeper backbends like Bow and Wheel Pose and it will help with your posture too.
Repeat all these exercises again at the end of your challenge and see the results!
We put these together with the 30/30 Yoga Challenge in mind. Practise them before and after the challenge to notice the difference that practising yoga every day for 30 days will make! You can also repeat these at regular intervals to get a measure of how you are progressing in your regular practice.