Fusion Workouts: Fitness, Yoga, Pilates, and Barre - Helen Vanderburg (2016)

Part II. Fusion Exercises

Chapter 5. Standing Strength, Balance, and Flexibility Exercises

The exercises in this chapter build strength, balance, and flexibility in the lower body while integrating core training. The standing exercises define the muscles of the legs, buttocks, back, and abdominals through a focus on proper alignment and posture. Because these exercises use the largest muscles in the body, the intensity of the exercises and the caloric expenditure are high. If changing your body composition is your goal, add more of these exercises to your workouts.

The standing exercises are grouped in similar movement patterns that build from a foundational movement. A foundational movement uses a body position or exercise that is common to other exercises. For example, a squat is a foundational fitness exercise that is similar in position to a yoga chair pose or a squat with heel raise, which is a barre exercise. Once you learn the position and technique required in the foundational exercise, you will use similar technique in all the other exercises that use that movement pattern. Grouping the exercises in this way makes it easy to move from one exercise to the next with minimal adjustments in body position. Not only is this more efficient, but it also assists in mastering the exercise technique. From the foundational exercises, you can choose a variety of exercise options. Using the fusion method, you will be able to easily mix and match the exercises within each group to flow from one exercise to another to change the intensity and to bring novelty to your workouts.

Foundational Exercise

Squat

Starting Position

Start in a tall standing position. The feet are approximately shoulder-width apart and the toes point forward (see figure a). The knees align directly over the midline of the feet and extend no farther forward than the ball of the foot. The spine is in a neutral alignment and the head is in line with the spine. The eyes focus straight ahead, and the chin is tucked slightly. The shoulders are relaxed and down and away from the ears and the arms are by your side. The chest is lifted and opened by bringing the shoulder blades toward the middle of the back.

Action

Keeping the spine in a neutral and lengthened position, bend at the knees, hips, and ankles to lower the torso until the thighs are parallel or slightly higher than parallel to the floor as you descend into a squat (see figure b). Lift the pelvic floor and lower-abdominal muscles to engage the core. The torso will naturally hinge forward from the hips as you lower into the squat. Press down into the feet to push up to standing. The arms reach forward as you squat, and they lower to the side as you stand up.

Alignment

Keep the spine lengthened and torso in a tall posture as you move through the squat. The knees stay aligned over the center of the feet. Avoid letting the knees fall inward or outward as you squat.

Breath

Inhale to lower into the squat. Exhale to press up to standing, maintaining neutral alignment of the pelvis, spine, and shoulder girdle. Repeat 8 to15 times.

Technique Tips

·        Keep equal weight on the balls and heels of both feet.

·        Maintain the alignment of the knees with the feet to keep the knees from falling inward or outward as you lower into the squat.

·        Hinge or sit back with the hips as you lower into the squat.

·        Keep the chest lifted and the spine long throughout the movement.

·        Relax the shoulders down and away from the ears.

·        Maintain the head’s neutral alignment with the spine.

Progressions and Modifications

·        Hold the bottom of the squat longer for more intensity.

·        Increase the range of motion by moving deeper into the squat.

·        Stand higher in the squat to decrease the intensity.

Mindfulness

Control your breathing to give you strength in this challenging exercise. Take a strong breath in as you lower into the squat, and exhale to push up to standing.

Squat With Heel Raise

Starting Position

Start in a tall standing position, with the feet approximately shoulder-width apart and the toes pointing forward. Align the knees directly over the midline of the feet and extend no farther forward than the ball of the foot. The spine is in a neutral alignment and the head is in line with the spine. Focus the eyes straight ahead, and the tuck the chin slightly. The shoulders are relaxed and down and away from the ears and the arms are by your side. Lift and open the chest by bringing the shoulder blades toward the middle of the back.

Action

Lower into the squat (see figure a); at the bottom, lift both heels, balancing on the balls of the feet (see figure b). Lower the heels and stand up. Reach the arms in front of the shoulders to help you balance as you lift and lower the heels.

Alignment

Keep the knees in line with the toes as you lower into the squat and as you lift and lower the heels. The weight should stay centered across the balls of the feet. Avoid rolling the ankles in or out.

Breath

Exhale to lower into the squat, inhale to lift the heels, exhale to lower the heels, and inhale to stand up. Repeat 5 to15 times.

Progressions and Modifications

·        To add intensity, stay at the bottom of the squat, and lift and lower the heels for three to five repetitions.

·        To assist with balance, hold the back of a chair.

Mindfulness

Use strong breathing to help you through this challenging exercise. Focus your eyes on a single point to assist with balance.

Chair Pose

Starting Position

Stand tall with the feet together or shoulder-width apart.

Action

Lower into a squat, hold the bottom of the squat, and bring the arms overhead in line with the ears (see figure).

Alignment

Keep the spine in a neutral alignment, the chest open, and the shoulders relaxed down and away from the ears.

Breath

Exhale to lower into the squat, and inhale to lift the arms. Hold for three to five breaths before standing up.

Progressions and Modifications

·        To increase the balance challenge, place the feet together.

·        To decrease the balance challenge, place the feet hip-width apart.

·        To add intensity, stay in chair pose for more than five breaths.

·        To decrease the challenge, keep the hips higher.

Mindfulness

Bring your attention to the core muscles, particularly the abdominal muscles. Consciously lift the abdominal wall up and away from the thighs to support the low back.

Revolving Chair

Starting Position

Stand tall with the feet together or shoulder-width apart.

Action

Lower into a squat, hold the bottom of the squat, and bring the hands together in a prayer position in front of the chest (see figure a). Keeping the hips square and the knees aligned, bring an elbow across to the opposite thigh as you rotate the upper body (see figure b).

Alignment

Keep the weight equal on both feet and the knees aligned with each other as you twist to the side.

Breath

Exhale to lower into the squat, and inhale as you lift the arms. Exhale as you rotate to one side. Hold for three to five breaths. Inhale to return to center. Exhale to stand up. Repeat on the other side.

Progressions and Modifications

·        To increase the balance challenge, move the feet together.

·        To decrease the balance challenge, move the feet hip-width apart.

·        To add intensity, stay in revolving chair for more than five breaths.

·        To decrease the challenge, position the hips higher.

Mindfulness

Soften the tension in the body and the mind by using a long slow exhalation to rotate. Keep the mind peaceful as you hold the pose.

Single-Leg Squat

Starting Position

Stand tall and press into one foot to lift the opposite foot so you are balancing on one leg (see figure a).

Action

Keeping the foot lifted, bend the knee of the supporting leg as your hips lower into a squat (see figure b). Press up to the single-leg balance.

Alignment

Keep the knee centered over the foot and your body weight back into the hips as you lower into the squat.

Breath

Exhale to lower into the squat. Inhale to hold the bottom of the squat. Exhale to stand up. Complete five to eight repetitions per side.

Progressions and Modifications

·        To add intensity, complete more repetitions or increase the depth of the squat.

·        To assist with balance, place your hands on the back of a chair or the wall.

Mindfulness

Focus your attention on grounding the supporting foot into the floor to give you a stronger foundation for this balance exercise. Think of the foot growing roots into the floor.

Curtsy Squat

Starting Position

Press down on to one foot and lift the opposite foot so you are balancing on one leg (see figure a).

Action

Keeping the foot lifted, lower into the squat, crossing the lifted leg diagonally behind you to touch the toe on the floor (see figure b). Press up to the standing balance.

Alignment

Keep the shoulders and hips facing forward as you cross the leg behind in the curtsy. The front knee stays aligned over the center of the foot.

Breath

Exhale to lower into the squat. Inhale to hold the bottom of the squat. Exhale to stand up. Complete five to fifteen repetitions per side.

Progressions and Modifications

·        To add intensity, complete more repetitions or increase the depth of the squat.

·        To add more range of motion and core conditioning, add a rotation of the upper body and arms as you squat. Rotate to the same side as the back leg.

·        To assist with balance, place your hands on the back of a chair or the wall.

Mindfulness

This exercise challenges both strength and balance, so keep your thoughts positive and your mind focused on feeling graceful.

Ballet Squat

Starting Position

Stand with the feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, externally rotate the hips to point the toes out, and keep the knees aligned over the feet (see figure a). The pelvis is in a vertical position and the rib cage centered over the hips. Lift the pelvic floor and lower-abdominal muscles to engage the core.

Action

Lower into the ballet squat, keeping the torso and pelvis in a neutral alignment and the tailbone pointing down (see figure b). Press up and straighten the legs to full standing without hyperextending the knees.

Alignment

At the bottom of the squat, the knees should not extend beyond the toes. Keep equal pressure on the inside and the outside edges of the feet.

Breath

Inhale to set the core, and exhale to lower in the ballet squat. Inhale to hold the bottom. Exhale to stand up. Complete 8 to 15 repetitions.

Progressions and Modifications

·        To add intensity, complete more repetitions.

·        To assist with balance, hold on to the back of a chair.

Mindfulness

Feel the movement from the hips and as you lower and lift, keep the hips rotating outward to maintain the alignment of the knees. Imagine the big toes pressing into the floor and the thigh rolling outward.

Ballet Squat With Heel Raise

Starting Position

Stand with the feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, externally rotate the hips to point the toes out, and keep the knees aligned over the feet (see figure a). The pelvis is in a vertical position, and the rib cage is centered over the hips. Lift the pelvic floor and lower-abdominal muscles to engage the core.

Action

Lower into the ballet squat, keeping the torso and pelvis in a neutral alignment and the tailbone pointing down, and lift the heels (see figure b). Lower the heels. Press up and straighten the legs to full standing.

Alignment

At the bottom of the squat, the knees should not extend beyond the toes. Maintain equal pressure on the inside and the outside edges of the feet.

Breath

Inhale to set the core, and exhale to lower into the ballet squat. Inhale to lift the heel, and exhale to lower and stand up. Complete 8 to 12 repetitions.

Progressions and Modifications

·        To add intensity, complete more repetitions or hold the bottom of the squat and perform repetitive heel lifts.

·        To assist with balance, place your hands on the back of a chair or the wall.

Mindfulness

As you lift and lower the heel, feel the control come from your core and lift the pelvic floor to control the movement of the feet.

Foundational Exercise

Lunge

Starting Position

Stand tall with the feet hip-width apart and the knees aligned directly over the center of the feet. Maintain a neutral alignment of the spine. The shoulders are relaxed down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest (see figure a).

Action

Step one leg behind you and bend the front knee to just above 90 degrees. The knee is directly over the ankle. At the same time, bend the back knee toward the floor while maintaining neutral spinal alignment (see figure b). Keep the pelvis and spine in a neutral position and the ribs over the hips. Engage the core muscles to maintain a neutral spine as you press the feet into the floor to push up to standing. The arms reach to the front or to the side for balance. Press up by straightening the legs.

Alignment

Keep the knees aligned directly over the center of the feet. Maintain a neutral alignment of the spine. The shoulders are relaxed down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest.

Breath

Exhale to press up to standing, maintaining neutral alignment of the pelvis, spine, and shoulder girdle. Inhale to lower. Repeat 8 to 15 times per side.

Technique Tips

·        Press equally into the ball and heel of the front foot.

·        The back heel is lifted off the floor throughout the exercise, and the heel is over the ball of the foot.

·        Keep the knees aligned over the feet; avoid letting the knees fall inward or outward.

·        The hips should move up and down in a vertical line.

·        Keep the chest lifted and the spine long throughout the movement.

·        Relax the shoulders down and away from the ears.

·        The head is in a neutral alignment with the spine.

Progressions and Modifications

·        Change the tempo of the lunge by lowering and rising at different rhythms: two counts up and down, four counts up and down, three counts down and one count up, or one count down and three counts up.

·        To add intensity, add an isometric (not moving) hold at the bottom of the lunge for two to eight counts before standing and repeat.

·        Stand higher in the lunge to decrease the intensity.

Mindfulness

Observe how one side feels compared to the other. Is there more tension or less strength or balance on one side of the body than the other? If one side is weaker, spend more time practicing the exercise on that side of the body to equalize the two sides.

Crescent Lunge

Starting Position

Stand tall with the feet together or hip-width apart and the knees aligned directly over the center of the feet. Maintain a neutral alignment of the spine. The shoulders are relaxed down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest (see figure a).

Action

Step one leg behind you and bend the front knee to just above 90 degrees. The knee is directly over the ankle. Keep the back leg straight, the ball of the foot on the floor, and the heel lifted. Raise both arms overhead with the palms facing each other (see figure b). Engage the core muscles to maintain a neutral spine position.

Alignment

Align the pelvis and spine in a neutral position and the ribs over the hips. Engage the core muscles to maintain a neutral spine.

Breath

Inhale to reach the arms overhead. Exhale to relax unwanted tension in this exercise. Hold for three to five breaths per side.

Progressions and Modifications

·        To increase intensity, lower the hips to for a 90-degree angle in the front knee.

·        To add an upper-body stretch, reach the arms behind the back and interlace the fingers. With the arms straight, lift the hands upward to open the front of the shoulder and chest.

·        Stand higher in the lunge to decrease the intensity.

·        To move into a deeper stretch, bring your hands to the floor for a low lunge.

·        For better balance, reach the arms in front of the chest and look forward.

Mindfulness

Focus on the position of the hips. Keep the hips level under the shoulders. As you rotate the tailbone downward, notice the increase in the stretch in the front of the hip of the back leg.

Revolving Lunge

Starting Position

Stand tall with the feet hip-width apart and the knees aligned directly over the center of the feet. Maintain a neutral alignment of the spine. The shoulders are relaxed down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest (see figure a).

Action

Step one leg behind you and bend the front knee to just above 90 degrees (see figure b). The knee is directly over the ankle. Keep the back leg straight and the ball of the foot on the floor and the heel lifted. Bring the hands together in a prayer position in front of the chest. Hinge the torso forward and bring the opposite elbow across the front thigh by initiating the rotation from the hips through the top of the head (see figure c). Place the elbow on the opposite thigh. Fingertips point forward and the gaze is toward the top elbow.

Alignment

Keep the back foot grounded and initiate the rotation from the back leg by rolling the leg in. Finish the rotation through the ribs, spine, and shoulders, giving you a sense of rotation through the entire body.

Breath

Inhale to hinge forward. Exhale to rotate into the revolving lunge. Breathe naturally and relax unwanted tension. Hold for three to five breaths per side.

Progressions and Modifications

·        To increase intensity, lower the hips to form a 90-degree angle in the front knee.

·        To move deeper into the twist, open the arms out by reaching one hand down and the other up.

·        Stand higher in the lunge to decrease the intensity.

·        If the rotation is too challenging, place your supporting hand on the thigh and the opposite hand on the hip.

Mindfulness

Bring awareness to your breathing. Your breath should flow freely and deeply as you rotate. If your breath becomes restricted, create more length in the spine and open the chest.

Warrior 1

Starting Position

Stand tall with the feet together or hip-width apart and the knees aligned directly over the center of the feet. Maintain a neutral alignment of the spine. The shoulders are relaxed down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest (see figure a).

Action

Step one leg behind you and bend the front knee to just above 90 degrees, lined up directly over the ankle. Keep the back leg straight. Lift onto the ball of the back foot and rotate the hips outward to turn the heel of the foot in and down. Press into the outside edge of the back foot, lift through the thigh, and rotate the hip toward the front. Lift the pelvic floor and lower-abdominal muscles to engage the core to maintain a neutral spine. Raise both arms overhead with the palms facing each other (see figure b).

Alignment

With the back hip and foot rotated out, keep the hips and torso rotating toward the front. Keep the shoulders relaxed down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest as you lift the arms.

Breath

Inhale to reach the arms overhead. Exhale to relax unwanted tension as you hold for three to five breaths per side.

Progressions and Modifications

·        Step the back foot out to the side to widen the stance if there is discomfort in the hips or back and to help with balance.

·        Stand higher in the lunge to decrease the intensity.

Mindfulness

Focus on the position of the hips. As you rotate the tailbone downward, notice the increase in the stretch in the front of the hip of the back leg.

Warrior 2

Starting Position

Stand tall with the feet together or hip-width apart and the knees aligned directly over the center of the feet. Maintain a neutral spine. The shoulders are relaxed down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest (see figure a).

Action

Step one leg behind you and bend the front knee to just above 90 degrees, lined up directly over the ankle. Keep the back leg straight. Externally rotate the back hip to turn the toes out and open the hip to 90 degrees. Press the outside edge of the foot down while lifting the inner arch of the foot. Raise the arms to shoulder height, reaching one arm forward and the other back (see figure b). Look over the front hand. Keep the hip, knee, and foot of the front leg aligned. Roll the front hip under as you open the back hip. The arms reach without tension in the neck and shoulders.

Alignment

Keep the front knee aligned over the center of the front foot. The shin forms a straight line from the knee to the heel. The ribs remain centered over the hips, and the pelvis is in a neutral alignment.

Breath

Inhale to reach the arms out. Exhale to relax unwanted tension. Hold for three to five breaths per side.

Progressions and Modifications

·        To increase the intensity of the exercise, lower the hips to form a 90-degree angle in the front knee.

·        Stand higher in the lunge to decrease the intensity.

Mindfulness

Bring your attention to your breath. Use the 3D breathing technique to give you strength in this challenging exercise. On the inhale, focus on strength. On the exhalation, release any unwanted tension. Find the balance between strength and calmness.

Reverse Warrior

Starting Position

Stand tall with the feet together or hip-width apart and the knees aligned directly over the center of the feet. Maintain a neutral spine. The shoulders are relaxed and pulling down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest (see figure a).

Action

Step one leg behind you and bend the front knee to just above 90 degrees, lined up directly over the ankle. Keep the back leg straight. Externally rotate the back hip to turn the toes out and open the hip to 90 degrees. Press the outside edge of the foot down while lifting the inner arch of the foot. Raise the arms to shoulder height, reaching one arm forward and the other back. Look over the front hand. Keep the hip, knee, and foot of the front leg aligned. Roll the front hip under as you open the back hip. Raise the front arm above your head, creating a stretch in the front of the waist as the opposite arm reaches toward the floor behind you (see figure b).

Alignment

Keep the front knee aligned over the center of the front foot. The shin forms a straight line from the knee to the heel. The ribs remain centered over the hips and the pelvis in a neutral alignment.

Breath

Inhale to reach the arm up. Exhale to relax unwanted tension. Hold for three to five breaths per side.

Progressions and Modifications

·        To increase the intensity of the exercise, lower the hips to form a 90-degree angle in the front knee.

·        Place the back hand on the thigh to support the back.

·        Stand higher in the lunge to decrease the intensity.

·        Fluidly move between warrior 2 and reverse warrior.

Mindfulness

Notice how you create space in the front of the torso by lifting the rib cage up and away from the hips without compressing the low back.

Extended Side Angle

Starting Position

Stand tall with the feet together or hip-width apart and the knees aligned directly over the center of the feet. Maintain a neutral alignment of the spine. The shoulders are relaxed down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest (see figure a).

Action

Step one leg behind you and bend the front knee to just above 90 degrees, lined up directly over the ankle. Open the back hip by externally rotating it and rolling the front hip under to turn the toes out and open the hip to 90 degrees. Press the outside edge of the foot down while lifting the inner arch of the foot. Raise the arms to shoulder height, reaching one arm forward and the other back. Slide the rib cage forward and bring the front forearm to the front thigh while reaching the back arm diagonally overhead, creating a diagonal line from the outer edge of the foot through the legs, torso, arm, and finally the fingertips (see figure b). Avoid collapsing the upper body into the front leg by keeping the waist lengthened and the core engaged. Look up toward the upper arm.

Alignment

Keep the hip, knee, and foot of the front leg aligned. Roll the front hip under as you open the back hip. Reach the arm overhead without tension in the shoulders. Avoid collapsing the upper body into the front leg by keeping the waist lengthened and the core engaged.

Breath

Inhale to reach forward as you begin the pose. Exhale to lower the front forearm to the thigh and reach the opposite arm overhead. Hold for three to five breaths per side.

Progressions and Modifications

·        To increase the intensity of the exercise, lower the hips to form a 90-degree angle in the front knee.

·        To increase the stretch, bring the front hand to the floor on the inside of the front foot.

·        Stand higher in the lunge to decrease the intensity.

·        Fluidly move between reverse warrior and extended side angle.

Mindfulness

Use the 3D breathing technique to engage the core and release unwanted tension.

Foundational Exercise

Single-Leg Balance

Starting Position

Stand tall with the feet together or shoulder-width apart, pressing equally into the four corners of the feet; contract the quadriceps muscles and feel as though you are pulling up toward the pelvis (see figure a). Lift from the pelvic floor and engage the abdominal muscles by drawing the belly button in and up toward the diaphragm. The chest is lifted and the gaze is straight ahead. The chin is slightly tucked to place the head in a neutral alignment.

Action

Bring the arms out to the side at shoulder height to assist with balance. Keep the spine in a neutral and lengthened position. Spread one foot firmly into the ground and lift the opposite leg to the front with the knee bent and the supporting leg straight (see figure b). Relax the shoulders down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest.

Alignment

Focus your attention on creating a tall posture, lengthening from the feet to the top of the head. Keep the hips level and even with each other as you lift one leg.

Breath

Inhale to lift the leg into a balance. Breathe naturally to hold the single-leg balance for 5 to 10 breaths per side.

Technique Tips

·        Press equally into the ball and heel of the foot.

·        With the supporting leg straight, maintain the alignment of the knee over the foot.

·        Keep the hips aligned with each other so that the pelvis remains level and you avoid tipping to one side.

·        Relax the shoulders down and away from the ears and lift the chest.

·        Keep your gaze soft.

Progressions and Modifications

·        Hold the balance longer to increase intensity.

·        Reach the arms overhead to challenge your balance.

·        Bring the hands to the hips to bring awareness to pelvic alignment.

·        Lower and lift the leg to add a dynamic challenge to the balance.

·        To assist with balance, place your hands on the back of a chair or the wall.

Mindfulness

Focus your gaze on something that is still and quiet the mind to give you better balance. If the eyes wander, the mind will wander and the body will lose balance.

Side Balance

Starting Position

Stand tall with the feet together or shoulder-width apart, pressing equally into the four corners of the feet. Contract the quadriceps muscles and feel as though you are pulling up toward the pelvis (see figure a). Lift upward from the pelvic floor and engage the abdominal muscles by drawing the navel in and up toward the diaphragm. The chest is lifted and the gaze is straight ahead with a slight chin tuck to place the head in a neutral alignment. Focus your attention on creating a tall posture, lengthening from the feet to the top of the head.

Action

Keeping both legs straight, press one foot firmly into the ground and lift the other foot while tilting the body to the side over the supporting leg (see figure b). Reach the arms out to the side at shoulder height. Maintain this alignment as you tilt to the side.

Alignment

The supporting leg is straight, and the spine is in a neutral alignment. The shoulders relax down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest. Maintain this alignment as you tilt to the side.

Breath

Inhale to lift the leg to a balance. Exhale to tilt to the side. Breathe naturally to hold the single-leg balance for three to five breaths per side.

Progressions and Modifications

·        Hold the balance longer to increase intensity.

·        Reach the arms overhead to challenge your balance.

·        Lower and lift the leg to add a dynamic challenge to the balance and develop outer-hip strength.

·        To assist with balance, place your hands on the back of a chair or the wall.

Mindfulness

Imagine you are standing between two panes of glass so the body moves neither forward nor back.

Tree Pose

Starting Position

Stand tall with the feet together or shoulder-width apart. Pressing equally into the four corners of the feet, contract the quadriceps muscles and feel as though you are pulling up toward the pelvis. Lift upward from the pelvic floor and engage the abdominal muscles by drawing the belly button in and up toward the diaphragm. The chest is lifted, the gaze is straight ahead, the chin is tucked slightly to place the head in a neutral alignment, and the arms are down by your side. Focus your attention on creating a tall posture, lengthening from the feet to the top of the head (see figure a).

Action

Press one foot firmly into the ground, keeping the leg straight, and lift the opposite foot. Open the hip to the side and place the sole of the other foot against the inside of the ankle, calf, or inner thigh of the supporting leg (see figure b). The shoulders relax down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest. Keep the hips level and avoid rotating the hips and back as you lift the leg.

Alignment

The supporting leg is straight and the spine is in a neutral alignment. The shoulders relax down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest. Keep the hips level and avoid rotating the hips and back as you lift the leg into tree pose.

Breath

Inhale to lift the leg to a balance. Exhale to open the hips and place the foot on the supporting leg. Breathe naturally to hold the single-leg balance for three to five breaths per side.

Progressions and Modifications

·        Hold the balance longer to increase intensity.

·        Reach the arms overhead to challenge your balance.

·        To assist with balance, place your hands on the back of a chair or the wall.

Mindfulness

Focus on the rhythm of the breath. With each exhalation, root the supporting foot more strongly into the ground. With each inhalation, create a sensation of lifting from the foot out through the crown of the head.

Warrior 3

Starting Position

Stand tall with the feet together or shoulder-width apart, pressing equally into the four corners of the feet; contract the quadriceps muscles and feel as though you are pulling up toward the pelvis (see figure a). Lift upward from the pelvic floor and engage the abdominal muscles by drawing the navel in and up toward the diaphragm. The chest is lifted and the gaze is straight ahead, with a slight chin tuck to place the head in a neutral alignment and the arms down by your side. Focus your attention on creating a tall posture, lengthening from the feet to the top of the head.

Action

Lift the arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Shift your weight on to one leg and with that leg straight, lift the opposite leg back while tilting the torso forward. The torso, head, and lifted leg are in a straight line to form a T-shape with the body (see figure b).

Alignment

The supporting leg is straight, the spine is in a neutral alignment, and the head is in line with the back. The shoulders are relaxed down and away from the ears and slightly back to open the front of the chest. Tilt only as far forward as you can to maintain a straight line through the body from your head to the toe of the lifted leg. Keep the hips level and aligned with each other.

Breath

Exhale as you pivot from the hips to lift the leg and tilt the body. Breathe naturally to hold the single-leg balance for three to five breaths per side. Inhale to return to standing.

Progressions and Modifications

·        Hold the balance longer to increase intensity.

·        Change the arm position to reach the arms overhead to challenge your balance (see figure c).

·        Position the arms overhead and move them in a swimming motion with one arm lifting and the other lowering to add a core challenge.

·        Lower and lift the leg to add a dynamic challenge to the balance.

·        To assist with balance, place your hands on the back of a chair or the wall.

Mindfulness

Quiet your mind of doubt and replace your thoughts with words of strength.

Half Moon

Starting Position

From a standing position, hinge forward to assume a forward-bend position (see figure a). The spine is in a neutral alignment.

Action

Place the fingertips of one hand approximately a torso length in front of one foot and keeping the leg straight, lift the opposite leg up until it is parallel with the floor, turning the hip open with the toe pointed to the side while maintaining a neutral spine (see figure b). Place your other hand on your hip or extend it up toward the ceiling while opening the chest. Keep the lifted leg active by gently flexing the ankle and pressing the heel back.

Alignment

The supporting leg is straight, and the spine is in a neutral alignment. Open the front of the chest.

Breath

Inhale to lift the leg into the balance. Exhale to extend through both legs. Breathe naturally to hold the single-leg balance for three to five breaths per side.

Progressions and Modifications

·        Hold the balance longer to increase intensity.

·        Lower and lift the leg to add a dynamic challenge to the balance.

·        Look to the floor to assist with balance or look up to the extended arm to challenge balance.

·        Place your hands on the back of a chair or a yoga block to help maintain balance and alignment.

Mindfulness

Stand firm on your supporting leg and trust yourself.

The standing exercises are grouped in similar movement patterns that build from a foundational movement. A foundational movement uses a body position or exercise that is common to other exercises. For example, a squat is a foundational fitness exercise that is similar in position to a yoga chair pose or a squat with heel raise, which is a barre exercise. Once you learn the position and technique required in the foundational exercise, you will use similar technique in all the other exercises that use that movement pattern. Grouping the exercises in this way makes it easy to move from one exercise to the next with minimal adjustments in body position. Not only is this more efficient, but it also assists in mastering the exercise technique. From the foundational exercises, you can choose a variety of exercise options. Using the fusion method, you will be able to easily mix and match the exercises within each group to flow from one exercise to another to change the intensity and to bring novelty to your workouts.