For anyone needing a little motivation to start exercising, Yoga guru Barbara Currie looks fitter at 70 than I have ever looked in my entire life. Barbara shares with us some of her best exercises to improve our flexibility and tone our midlife bodies.
Unlikely to be the case if you are over 50, but just in case we have some younger readers joining us, Barbara does not advise to attempt these movements if you are pregnant.
1. Yoga Abdominal Lift
This is like a wonderful gift. It takes 30 seconds a day and is brilliant!
This movement must be done on an empty stomach. The ideal time to do it is before breakfast.
- Stand straight with your legs about 1 foot apart and place your hands on your upper thighs.
- Inhale deeply then exhale fully and keeping the air out of your lungs pull your abdominals in and up.
- Hold for a count of 10. Release the abdominals, inhale and relax.
- Repeat the movement twice.
Please don’t worry if you don’t appear to get much movement in the beginning stages, just persevere – the result of a slimmer, firmer and flatter tum is well worth it!
The abdominals drop as we get older and this movement is invaluable for keeping the abdomen firm, toned, uplifted and youthful.
2. Tummy and Thigh Toner
This deceptively simply movement is like dynamite!
- Kneel with your knees about a foot apart.
- Lift your bottom from your heels and place your arms parallel to the floor making sure that your thighs are straight and perpendicular to the floor.
- Inhale and as you exhale just lean back a small way, at first increasing the stretch as you progress in the movement. (Don’t allow your bottom to sag). Hold the position for a count of 5, breathing normally then inhale and return to an upright position and repeat twice.
This powerful movement really tones and firms your tummy. It gives your thighs that beautiful firm, toned, slim yoga shape.
3. Pose of a Boat – Stage 1
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This is a fantastic firmer for both tums and thighs and also greatly strengthens the lower back.
- Sit straight with both legs straight out in front of your making sure that you are sitting on a nice thick mat or blanket.
- Place your arms parallel to the floor.
- Inhale and as you exhale gently lift your legs from the floor and balance on your bottom. Hold just for a count of one to begin with, gradually increasing the hold to 10 as you progress in the movement, then gently lower your legs to the floor, relax and repeat twice. This can be hard work but move carefully and build it up gently, and remember never strain in the posture.
- Following the movement, lie on your back, draw your knees to your chest and gently rock your back from side to side to relieve any tension in your lower back.
Pose of a Boat – Stage 2
- Sitting on your mat with both legs stretched out in front of you, place your hands interlocked behind your head.
- Take a deep breath and, as you exhale gently, lift your legs from the floor. Hold for a count of 1 to start with, increasing to 10 as you progress. This is very powerful – do not strain!
- Gently lower your legs to the floor and then relax. Repeat the movement twice.
- Following the movement, lie down and gently draw your knees to your chest and rock from side to side.
Again, this is a powerful toner for your abdomen, thighs and lower back.
4. Slow Motion Firming
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This beautiful sequence not only gives you a lovely firm, strong and flat tum but also is delightfully relaxing and is great to do after a long hard day before going to sleep at night. The movement is performed in slow continuous motion.
- Sit straight with both legs straight out in front of you and together.
- Place both arms parallel to your legs.
- Inhale and lift your arms in the air.
- Exhale as you slowly move forwards keeping your back flat and your legs straight, don’t strain, just allow your body to flow easily and gently into your maximum position eventually aiming to clasp your feet and draw your chin to your knees.
- Inhale as you slowly return to an upright position then exhale as you gently lie flat. Place your arms flat on the floor behind your head.
- Inhale and bend your knees gently, lift your legs up and straighten them so that they are at right angles to your body.
- Exhale as you slowly lower your legs to the floor. (In the beginning stages make this part of the movement relatively fast and then slow it down as your abdominals firm and strengthen. For people with weak backs, sometimes in the beginning stages you may start to feel a small pull in your lower back – if this occurs bend your knees immediately and then continue to lower the legs with the knees bent. As you practice you will find that you will be able to go further before having to bend your knees as your back and abdominals strengthen).
- Inhale as you slowly come up into a sitting position stretching your arms up in the air. (If you find this difficult in the beginning stages, then place your elbows on the floor to help you push off).
- Exhale as you relax and stretch forwards into back stretch.
- Repeat this sequence twice, at first increasing to four times as your back and abdominals become stronger. Then lie down, draw your knees into your chest and gently relax your back into the floor by gently rocking from side to side, then lie flat, slow your breathing down, and relax. Well done!
This beautiful sequence will deliver the results you want, a beautiful, firm tum and nice strong back and the movement will really relax you. If your back is stiff and tense you can’t relax so you toss and turn and find sleep difficult. This movement is perfect for unwinding this tension for you and helping you to deep restful sleep.
For more exercises to get you (or keep you) in fabulous shape, you can dowload Barbara Curries’s new book or ebook10-Minute Yoga Workouts: Power Tone Your Body From Top To Toe with a series of yoga exercises which are easy to fit into your daily routine.