Power Up Your Practice
A big hit at MBF/Chicago, YogaFit for Athletes left participants clamoring for more. Renee Harrington delivers—with a sequence incorporating strength training and yoga.
If you don’t know Renee Harrington yet, you should! In addition to being a YogaFit Master Trainer, she’s a faculty instructor at North Carolina State University (Health and Exercise Studies) and member of Team USA in international sprint, Olympic, and Long Course duathlons. Obviously, she knows her stuff. Renee and other master trainers will be leading several YogaFit for Athletes trainings this year. Take a look at the schedule—you won't want to miss an opportunity to learn more.
Note: For more great advice and specific poses to help you stay in the game—no matter what sport you play—pick up a copy of Beth Shaw's book, The YogaFit Athlete.
Weight training, combined with a traditional yoga practice, can be a great way to maintain strength as you age. Research shows that incorporating strength training with weights two to three times a week builds muscle and bone density. Although practicing yoga regularly can bring similar benefits, your body needs new challenges from time to time to avoid hitting a plateau.
Find the Balance
If you want to teach a fusion class that combines weights and yoga, you’ll need to strike a balance between staying true to the tradition of yoga and incorporating non-traditional ways to help your students improve and evolve. The experience, mood, and goals of the participants can help dictate how you find that balance. One approach is to teach a traditional vinyasa style class that adds weights just during the work portion of class (Mountain II). I’ve included a sample sequence of that below. Another approach is to teach a circuit style strength training class that incorporates yoga postures within the circuit to build added strength and balance.
Get Things Set Up
1. Progression – Always begin with a proper warmup and a few sun salutations. Start with larger muscle groups first (e.g., chest and back), and then move to smaller muscle groups (e.g., shoulder and triceps). The smaller muscle groups act as stabilizers for the larger muscle groups, so progressing in this manner will help to prevent injuries and work each muscle group more effectively.
2. Equipment – You can use a variety of equipment for strength training. A pair of dumbbells, a kettlebell, body bar, and a weight resistance ball are all very user-friendly for the mat. Ask your students to organize their weights so that they can safely pick up and place back without compromising movement—ideally at the upper corner of the mat.
3. Weight Selection – For most exercises 5 to 7 pound weights are ideal to start with, building up to 7 to 10 pound weights as you feel ready. Lighter 2 to 3 pound weights are perfect for shoulder work.
Try This Sample Sequence
After completing a standard warmup and 4 to 6 sun salutations, add the sequence below for the work portion of class (Mountain II). Follow with floor poses and final relaxation.
1. Flowing single leg deadlift with double arm row. Hold Warrior III, move into forward fold. Repeat on other side
2. Chest pushups with shoulder tap
3. Warrior I with Bicep Curls into Lunge with Overhead Press. From there, add a three-legged Downward Dog, with hip release; into - Pyramid Pose. Repeat other side.
4. Chair pose flow. Move in and out of squat and then hold Chair pose and add triceps kickbacks. Standing camel
5. Plank with ab rotation
6. Warrior 2 with lateral raise. Move into a Twisting Lunge, to Triangle. Repeat other side
7. Spider Plank