THE BLOG
07/18/2014 06:06 pm ET | Updated Sep 17, 2014

Yoga Sculpt

Namaste, the word on the street. The expression used to wrap up a yoga practice which signifies, "the light and teacher in me honors and respects the light and teacher in you." Yoga practice is a practice that stems back thousands of years and has become among the popular workouts in America.

There are many different yoga disciplines including Hatha, Kundalini, Power Vinyasa Flow, among many others. Yoga workouts use your own body weight through multiple postures that challenge every muscle group from head to toe. Did you ever think that yoga can integrate external resistance, as in weights? Introducing Yoga Sculpt with yoga expert Alex Curtis of Core Power Yoga.

Before practicing yoga with weights you must learn the basics first. Here's what you must know:

Intro to weights:
When using weights in a yoga class you must protect your shoulders and other vulnerable joints such as the knees, hips, ankles and wrists. When moving through postures you want to make sure you bring your weights into your chest before moving your arms up/out. Always keep a micro-bend in your elbows to protect your joints. Be mindful of foot movements, pivoting through postures to protect the knees and ankles.

Integration

Child's pose:
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-- Sit back on your heels with knees spread wide
-- Fold forward with your arms stretched out in front of you, forehead to the floor
-- Crawl fingers forward and press hips back to lengthen spine. Take three breaths

Down dog:
2014-07-18-downdog.jpg
-- On exhale tuck your toes and lift your hips to the sky
-- Hands are planted flat shoulder width apart
-- Feet are hip width apart, heels reach down toward the mat
-- Take three breaths

Rag doll:
2014-07-18-ragdoll.jpg
-- From down dog, step feet up to your hands, feet hip width apart
-- Slight bend in your knees, head and arms hang heavy
-- Grab for opposite elbows
-- Relax your neck muscles
-- Take three breaths

Sun 'A': flow through the series three times

Tadasana:
2014-07-18-tadasana.jpg
-- Inhale your arms to the sky, palms face each other
-- Draw your shoulders down toward the ground
-- Stand tall

Forward fold:
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-- Exhale fold forward with a slight bend in your knees

Halfway lift:
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-- Inhale lift your hands to your shins
-- Flat back, shoulders in line with your hips
-- Gaze slightly forward, keep neck neutral

High to low plank:
2014-07-18-highplank.jpg
2014-07-18-lowplank.jpg
-- Exhale plant your palms down and step back to high plank
-- Exhale lowering down half way, elbows bent to a 90-degree angle
-- Elbows hug into your sides
-- Option to drop to the knees

Up dog to down dog:
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2014-07-18-downdog.jpg
-- Inhale pressing the tops of your feet into the mat and with straight arms, press through your palms and lift your chest
-- Relax your shoulders down
-- On an exhale push back to downward facing dog

Do Sun 'A' three times, breath to movement.

Watch video demo, here.

Sun 'B' (no weights, three times), come forward from down dog.

Chair pose:
2014-07-18-chairpose.jpg
-- With knees together, inhale and bend knees, placing your weight back into heels, tail bone tucks under
-- Arms in line with your ears
-- Exhale forward fold, inhale halfway lift, exhale high to low plank, inhale up dog, exhale down dog

Crescent lunge:
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-- Inhale lift your right leg high, heel reaches back, toes point down to the floor
-- Exhale step right foot forward to low lunge, foot between hands
-- On an inhale your back heel stays lifted as you sweep your hands up over head, palms face each other
-- Stack front knee over front ankle
-- Shoulders are stacked above your hips, drop your tailbone down
-- Back leg is engaged

Warrior 2:
2014-07-18-warrior2noweights.jpg
-- Exhale spin your back heel flat, open arms and hips to the side
-- Bend front knee to 90 degrees, tracking your knee over your ankle
-- Root down through your back heel
-- Stretch arms out

Reverse warrior:
2014-07-18-reversewarrior.jpg
-- Inhale stay low in front leg and reach front arm straight up over shoulder, placing the back hand gently on your back hip
-- Shoulders and hips stay square to the side
-- On the exhale, bring hands to center, pivot forward and plant hands down (inhale high plank, exhale low plank, inhale up dog, exhale down dog)
-- Repeat on the left side.

Watch video demo, here.

Sun 'B' with weights (two to three times) flow through breath to movement being mindful of the weight safety instructions noted above.

Chair pose: (See above)
2014-07-18-chairwithweights.jpg

Crescent: (See above)
2014-07-18-crescentlungetriceps.jpg

Crescent with triceps extension: (Add the biceps curl for 10 reps)
2014-07-18-crescentlungewithweights.jpg
-- Arms straight over head, palms face each other
-- Inhale as you bend at elbows to 90 degrees, exhale as you straighten arms

Warrior 2: (See above) add elevated bicep curls (10 reps)
2014-07-18-warrior2weights.jpg
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-- Arms at shoulder height, thumbs face up
-- Inhale arms straight, exhale curl arms in to 90 degrees
-- Keep micro bend in elbows when straightening arms

Reverse warrior: (see above)
2014-07-18-reversewarriorweights.jpg

Repeat on left side

Once finished, end in down dog and lower down to knees

Watch video demo, here.

Wide arm push-ups with no weights: (10-12 reps)
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-- Come forward and place hands as wide as mat, under chest
-- Knees can stay down or lifted off the ground
-- Inhale lower, bend arms to 90 degrees, exhale push up

Wind it down (no weights), lay on your back

Figure four:
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-- Cross right ankle over left thigh and grab behind left leg and pull in towards chest
-- Shoulders and head stay down on mat, keep feet flexed (hold three to five breaths)

Switch legs

Supine twist:
2014-07-18-supinetwist.jpg
-- With left leg straight hug right knee in towards shoulder
-- Cross knee over body, arms out to sides like a 'T', gaze right (hold three to five breaths)
-- Bring knees back to center

Switch sides

Savasana:
2014-07-18-savasana.jpg
-- Lie flat on your back
-- Legs relax
-- Arms relax with palms facing up
-- Close eyes, relax, and breathe
-- Allow yourself to truly escape your mind

Photo Credits: Jaret Cohen

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