By: Danielle Cuccio – celebrity yoga instructor, CEO of Cuccio Somatology (www.CuccioSomatology.com)
Photos: Kathryn Page (http://www.kathryn-page.com/)
Yoga can be seen as somewhat spiritual, “guru-y”, but in actuality, it doesn’t have to be that at all. Yoga can be whatever you want it to be. It can be slow, it can be fast. It can be spiritual, it can be purely physical. It really is what you make it.
That is why I love yoga. And the great thing is, it feels good no matter what. Even if a stretch feels intense at the moment, you can feel so much better after.
I used to hate yoga. Being a hip-hop dancer growing up, I liked to move and not hold any pose for longer than five seconds. I then found Vinyasa Yoga which was similar to dance. It was slow, but not too slow. It felt good to move just like dancing did.
YOGA IS FOR EVERYONE. I love that a beginner can walk into my class and be totally fine. Take it at their pace, even if someone is doing a headstand in the middle of the room, that doesn’t mean that YOU have to too. Yoga is about being okay with where you are at, the level you practice at, and however you are feeling that given day and time. It doesn’t matter if you are 4 or 84 – you can practice yoga.
YOGA HELPS YOU LOSE WEIGHT. As most of us are used to being at a desk job or on our computers, phones, iPads all day long, it’s important to get up and move. You don’t have to go to the gym, you don’t even have to leave your house, but just roll out a yoga mat and start stretching. Most people are intimidated by the thought of weight loss. “Oh no, I have to make it to my 6:30pm Cross Fit class – that I don’t even like – otherwise I can’t eat that piece of cake this weekend at my birthday.” Guys! Let me tell you, you don’t have to dread your workout! Yoga is enjoyable! Okay, maybe not after your first class but after your second or third time doing it, your muscles create something called muscle memory and it becomes easier and easier; it actually starts to feel good! You use your core a lot as you transition from pose to pose so your abs naturally start to become more defined. Your muscles are also being stretched and worked – making you sweat and have a leaner, longer body. Have you ever seen a yogi’s body? They are lean, long and gorgeous!
Here is an easy YOGA SEQUENCE for all levels to practice from home, a local park or while on vacation.
DOWNWARD DOG: Bring feet hip distance apart, with your tailbone high and arms pressed into the mat, spreading through all 10 fingers. Shoulders relax away from the ears, and chest comes towards your thighs.
THREE LEGGED DOG: On an inhale, raise your right leg high.
KNEE TO NOSE: On an exhale, bring your right knee to your nose.
CRESCENT POSE: Step your right knee in between your hands and using your abdominal muscles, while inhaling pull the body up to Crescent Pose (Right knee lines up with right ankle, left heel is lifted off the mat, tailbone comes down, shoulders relax away from the ears as you shoot energy out through your fingertips, up towards the sky).
PLANK POSITION: On your exhale, release your hands down on both sides of your foot (right towards the right of the right foot, left towards the left) from Crescent Pose. Slide your right leg back to come into Plank.
UPWARD FACING DOG: Inhale in Plank, exhale lower down (Chaturanga), bending your elbows so they squeeze the sides of your waist. On your inhale, push into your palms to lift the chest up, opening up through the heart. Think about reaching your spine forward towards your heart.
DOWNWARD FACING DOG: Come back to start. Do the same sequence on the other side starting with the left leg.
Wake up early with more yoga sequences with Danielle’s At-Home Yoga DVD! http://www.cucciosomatology.com/#!dvd-details/cq73 or follow Danielle’s health blog here: www.TheBeautyBlender.com