The Practice of Yoga


Yoga rocks. In most permutations, it’s tough. It really brings out the inner warriors, inner demons, inner strengths, and inner weaknesses, when practiced with intenion – intention to form, intention to detail, intention to your intention.

Zoe Mantarakis, Pure Austin’s yoga coordinator and esteemed instructor, took the time to show us some yoga moves that will blast your core, and stimulate your creativity. You know you are sick of crunches, bicycles, leg lowers, and planks by now. Check out these out.

First, Zoe showed us a downward dog that flowed into a “knee-to-forehead” pose. She started out in downward dog, with one leg raised, as you can see in the picture. Then you come into “plank” (or top of a push-up) and keep going, bringing your knee to your forehead. Really bring it in – don’t cheat. The true work is in the details with this pose. Repeat five times, then try it on the other side.

Now, side plank – we’ve seen this one countless times and permutations in Men’s Health magazine, because it’s a great side body and deep core exercise. Here, Zoe added a twist – literally. The arm is raised up in the initial posture, then drawn under the body in the second step, while the body and hips remain high. To add intensity, you could put a weight in your hand. If this bothers your wrist, you can do this on your forearm. Repeat five times on each side.

The next one looks similar to the reverse crunch – awesome for lower abdominal toning. You will be on your back, with arms at sides and palms facing down with legs lifted in the air. Roll onto your back and shoulders, lifting your lower back off the ground. Pause at the top, and lower slowly down – that’s the best part!

Core strength is integral to the development of power, agility, and speed. Core exercises like these are often part of yoga classes, and are advanced into core work like arm balances and inversion (like hand- stand, or handstand push-ups). Zoe recommends practicing these core moves, taking it into an inversion if your are comfortable, and then cooling in a supported bridge pose with a block under your sacrum to stretch out the abdominal area – it feels good to relax. Breathe deep!