// Challenge balance and have FUN with yoga!

Many participants take their mind body classes very seriously. By approaching their workout with a sense of fun, they can reap both fitness and mental rewards, says Kathy Popplewell.

Do you ever gaze out into the sea of faces in your yoga or mind body class only to be greeted with a wall of serious, blank looks?

The problem could be that participants are tiring of the ‘same old’ yoga routine, but more likely it is to do with their perception of mind body fitness as a ‘serious’ business. Many participants take their yoga very seriously, and this can be a reflection of how they treat themselves in other aspects of their lives. Although it is obviously beneficial to them to strive for a level of personal success or competence in your class, there is no reason why fun has to be removed from the equation.

To quote motivational speaker T Harv Eker, ‘How you do anything is how you do EVERYTHING’, a saying which I have recognised to be absolutely true. If how we do anything is how we do everything, wouldn’t it be valuable to encourage ourselves and our participants to remember how to loosen up, go with the flow and most of all to have fun during our yoga classes? Together we can rediscover a sense of fun and playfulness within our yoga which will naturally begin to flow over into other areas of our lives.

As you instruct the following sequence, remind your students to smile, have fun and think of it as an opportunity to play. You may even like to suggest that they giggle, as a child does, if they fall or fatigue out of a pose, and encourage them to rest when they need to and then join in again when they feel ready.

The following sequence could be broken up into easier bite-size nuggets, or used in its entirety to deliver a challenging and dynamic yoga balance routine. Tell your participants that you’re going to give them a whole body challenge which will tickle their funny bones as well as stretch their muscles – and remember to say it with a smile!

Mountain. Stand with the feet hip-width apart and feet parallel, imagining you are standing on a set of train tracks (encourage participants to measure the hip-width from hip bones not hip flesh). Stand tall, shoulders back and broad, breastbone lifted and tummy long and hollow.

Chair. As you exhale bend the knees, tilt your pelvis towards your knees and stick your bottom back bringing your body to a 45 degree angle. Bring your palms together at your heart centre (photo 1).

Star Balance.  Inhale and push down through the soles of your feet as you stretch and extend your whole body out towards the right side into a star balance (photo 2).

Tree. Exhale and re-centre your balance onto your right foot as you bend your left knee, placing the sole of the left foot onto the inside of your right leg (either below or above the knee joint to protect the knee) and bringing the hands back to the heart (photo 3).

Pigeon Balance. As you inhale bring your left ankle above your right knee. Exhale and bend your right knee, bringing your body into a chair-like position and drawing your gaze towards the floor (photo 4).

Extended Pigeon Balance. To add more challenge, extend the arms overhead, keeping the arms in line with the body and spreading the fingers wide (photo 5).

(Click images to see larger)

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Eagle. Swing the right arm under the left and squeeze the forearms together, either with palms touching or making the hands into fists. Push off the right leg a little and then slide the left leg over the right thigh and as you exhale bend into the right leg again and squeeze the shins together (photo 6).

Dancers Prep. Inhale, unravel yourself from Eagle. Exhale as you stand tall, bend the left knee and take a hold of the foot with the left hand. Inhale and extend the right arm towards the sky, palm facing forward and stand tall (photo 7).

Dancers Pose. Exhale, extend your right arm in front of you. Inhale and push your left foot back into your hand and up towards the sky. Keep your hips square to the front and gaze past the middle finger (photo 8).

Knee to Chest. Release your foot as you exhale and hug your knee to chest. Stand tall (photo 9).

Front Leg Extension. Interlace your first two fingers around your left big toe as you place your right hand to hip. Keep standing tall and as you exhale extend your left leg as far in front of you as you can (watch tutorial for alternative options) (photo 10).

Side Leg Extension. Continue to firmly press down through your right leg and stand tall, as you inhale extend your left leg out to the left side. To increase the challenge, once you are in the pose, extend your right arm out to the right side. Return the leg to centre and return to mountain pose (photo 11).

(Click images to see larger)

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Rest and then repeat the sequence on other side.

To watch this yoga balance tutorial and get some extra teaching tips visit http://www.vibrance.com.au/fitnessnetwork.html

Kathy Popplewell
A lover of life, free spirit and mind body specialist, Kathy is passionate about helping people to live, love and laugh – naturally! She is currently sharing her love of yoga, laughter, dance and personal development by facilitating programs across Australia. Kathy is the founder of Tribal FyouSION and Vibrance, a business which helps people to transform stress into wellbeing naturally. To find out more visit www.vibrance.com.au or call 0405 147154.