5 Strengthening Yoga Poses to Balance Mind, Body & Breath
Balance your mind, body, and breath with these 5 strengthening yoga poses from Shilah Sarkissian for The St. Regis Monarch Beach. If you’re practicing beach side, try the custom dual-action swimsuit created by The St. Regis Monarch Beach and Cielo Rosso Swimwear ($195) shown in the poses below! The two-piece can be adjusted for increased support, making it easy to go from vinyasas to sunbathing on the sand.
Pose 1: Standing Backbend
Benefits: This gentle yet invigorating backbend helps to keep the spine flexible, the quads toned and the core stable.
- Start standing with your feet together and hands at your sides.
- Take a deep breath in and raise your arms overhead, bringing your palms together to touch.
- Root your feet into the mat and tilt your head back as if you are lifting up and over a giant beach ball, and begin to push your hips forward as you bring your upper body back to a slight bend.
- Complete the pose by bending your elbows and drawing your thumbs to touch at your forehead, or third eye, center of intuition.
- Hold for 20 seconds, inhaling and exhaling deeper into the pose.
Pose 2: Vrksasana – Tree Pose
Benefits: This pose requires focus, concentration and calm steady breath. It will strengthen thighs, calves, ankles and spine while increasing hip flexibility and encouraging core stability.
- Start with your feet together.
- Press down into your right foot and steadily lift your left foot to meet your inner thigh or calf, avoiding pressure on the knee.
- Press your left foot into the right leg and bring your hands to heart center.
- Enter the full expression of the pose by reaching your arms overhead, relaxing shoulders away from the ears and activating your core by pulling your low belly gently in to support you.
- Hold for 10 deep breaths on each side.
Pose 3: Urdhva Mukha Svanasana – Upward Facing Dog
Benefits: This pose improves posture, firms glutes, and stretches the lungs, shoulders, and abdomen. Upward dog is great to do after ab work, as it stretches the abdominal region and lengthens core muscles. This post also energizes and invigorates the body and mind, offering a mid-workout energy boost.
- Begin by lying flat on your belly.
- Bring your hands in line with your lower ribs, with all 10 fingers facing forward, and draw your elbows in close to your body.
- The tops of the feet should press into the floor, and as you contract your quadriceps, gently lift kneecaps off the floor.
- Press your hands firmly into the mat and begin lifting the chest and straightening the arms. Avoid crunching up in the neck area – instead, gaze slightly up and keep the spine in a natural position.
Pose 4: Vasisthasana – Side Plank
Benefits: This pose requires balance and improves focus and determination. It strengthens and tones the arms, legs and abdominals. Additionally, it stretches and lengthens the legs while simultaneously toning the side body.
- Start in plank pose.
- Root down into your right hand and roll to the outer edge of your right foot, then stack your left foot on top of your right. Beginners tip: you can always drop your right knee to the ground for more support.
- Raise your left hip slightly and take your left hand to up to the sky, feeling a deep side stretch.
- Hold for 10 breaths on each side, strengthening with inhales and stretching with exhales.
- To exit, come down slowly into plank pose and lower to the ground.
Pose 5: Anjaneyasna – High Crescent Lunge
Benefits: Crescent lunge is great for sculpting the lower body. It engages the full leg muscle on both sides, firming the glutes, thighs, calves and even ankles. It also engages the core and lengthens the side body
- Start with your feet together, and gently step your left foot back.
- Staying high up on the ball of the left foot, bend your right leg so that your knee lines up directly over your ankle.
- Reach your arms up in line with your ears, soften shoulders and stretch up through your fingertips.
- Make sure your back leg is straight, active and engaged.
- Breathe deeply and maintain the cycle of breath even as the pose becomes more difficult. Work up to holding for one minute on each side
About Shilah Sarkissian: Shilah is a 500 hour certified yoga and meditation instructor living and practicing in Southern California. For more of her tips on wellness, yoga and meditation you can visit her website yogatrippin.net or follow her on Instagram at @shiyoga.