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Cheat Sheet

Yoga with Weights For Dummies

From Yoga with Weights For Dummies by Sherri Baptiste [with Megan Scott]

Properly practicing the fundamentals and alignment techniques of yoga-with-weights exercises will ensure a safe and effective workout. For a full yoga experience, practice mediation and mindfulness techniques and the Complete Breath after your yoga-with-weights workout.

Keys to a Successful Yoga-with-Weights Workout

For a yoga-with-weights workout that's productive, safe, and fun, review this list of helpful tips and practice them each time you grab your weights and hit the yoga mat:

  • Breathe consciously throughout the exercises. You relax your body and bring much-needed oxygen to your muscles, which is important when exercising.

  • Eat a small protein-based snack or light meal no less than two hours before you exercise. You want to avoid feeling sluggish and uncomfortable during your workout, but a little energy food — such as protein powder blended with water — can be helpful. Be sure to time your light meal wisely so you feel sustained but not full.

  • Avoid overstretching. Going for that extra inch during a yoga-with-weights workout or any exercise program may compromise the integrity of your joints and ligaments.

  • Don't exercise too hard. Yoga-with-weights teaches you to be in a relaxed state as you exercise, and working too hard defeats this purpose.

  • Harness your wandering mind. Even if you're tired, focus on your body and breathing to get the most out of the exercises.

  • Focus on your form. Slouching puts your shoulders out of alignment, exposes you to injury, and keeps you from benefiting from the exercises fully.

  • Engage the core muscles of your trunk and your abdominal muscles. These muscles support your back, and engaging them builds strength and helps prevent the kind of injuries that occur while you're exercising.

  • Be patient with yourself and your practice. Muscle strength, better range of movement, and well-being come one exercise at a time — don't worry, you'll get there.

  • Exercise often enough. Patience is necessary, but you have to stick with it to see and feel the ongoing benefits of yoga with weights.

  • Know your limits. Rest when your body tells you to rest.

Proper Alignment Principles for Yoga-with-Weights Workouts

Maintaining good posture alignment gives you a solid foundation to support your limbs, back, and head during a yoga-with-weights workout. Practicing these proper alignment principles will help you prevent injury and get more out of yoga-with-weights exercises:

  • Align your shoulders with your hips. Don't twist your spine or collapse your chest; line up your hips and shoulders.

  • Keep your collarbones wide and your shoulders back. This lengthens your spine and "opens up" your chest for better breathing and exercising.

  • Engage your belly muscles. Drawing your belly in and up helps support your back and prevent injury.

  • Keep your tailbone down. A lowered tailbone supports your back and helps prevent injury.

  • Stand with your feet parallel to one another. In most exercises, you begin with your feet parallel, toes pointing straight ahead.

  • Stand with your legs below your hips. In most exercises, you begin with your legs parallel to one another and in line with your hips for stability.

  • Press equally and evenly on all four corners of your feet. You want to stay rooted to the floor so you're more stable during exercises.

  • Commit your hands and keep them strong when balancing. When we ask you to support your body with your hands, keep your hands strong and engaged for balance.

  • Keep your shoulders open and relaxed. Don't shrug your shoulders; square them.

  • Stand up straight. Don't slouch — it keeps you from breathing well and from opening up your chest and shoulders to do the exercises properly.

Meditation Techniques to Use after a Yoga-with-Weights Workout

After your yoga-with-weights workout, meditating is an excellent way to cool down, rest your body and mind, and transition into the next activity of your day. Pick from the following meditation techniques to practice after your workout:

  • Sit in silence. Sit with your spine straight and remain silent, concentrating on the world around you.

  • Focus on your breath. Let your breath flow smoothly, evenly, and consistently, like waves on the shore.

  • Relax systematically. Take inventory of the different parts of your body — starting with your toes and working up — and relax them one at a time.

  • Use word repetition. Say a positive-affirmation word repeatedly and feel your brain embracing the positive influence, vibration, and nature of the word.

  • Meditate with the use of sound. Sit still and listen to the sounds around you without thinking about where the sounds originated or what the sounds mean.

The Complete Breath for Yoga-with-Weights Workouts

The center of yoga-with-weights workouts is the Complete Breath — the basis of all other breathing techniques. The Complete Breath relieves tension and stress, helps your body find balance and energy, and improves the amount and quality of oxygen entering your body. The Complete Breath is a good breath to take after your yoga-with-weights workout (or anytime) to remain focused and in tune with your body. Go through the basic steps:

  1. While sitting, lying down, or standing, relax your shoulders and gaze straight ahead or close your eyes.

  2. Inhaling slowly through your nose to a count of four, feel your abdomen, your mid-body (the diaphragm area), and your upper chest gently expand until you fill your lungs to capacity.

  3. Exhaling slowly through your nose to a count of six, gently engage your abdomen and feel your body and your diaphragm gently coming back to center as you empty your lungs.

Yoga Mindfulness Techniques

Yoga-with-weights workouts not only strengthen the body but, when accompanied by mediation and breathwork, also opens your awareness to the outside world and your growth potential. To be mindful, which requires remaining in the present and focusing on the here and now, use these techniques:

  • Focus on your breathing and how your body responds to your breath as it moves through your body.

  • Notice tight areas of your body, and relax them.

  • Feel gratitude for your health and well-being.

  • Notice how the air smells and how plants smell after a rain.

  • Listen to the sounds of nature.

  • Notice the beauty all around you.

  • Open your mind and heart to yourself; let go of judgment and limitation.

  • Realize that the prize is in the process.

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