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Best exercises for Power toning your arms, bust and neck from yoga guru Barbara Currie


exercise for toning upper arms imageArticle by Barbra Currie

Following on from the best exercises to power tone tums Barbara shares her best exercises for Power toning your arms, bust and neck – just looking at Barbara in these photos is great motivation. If Barbara can look like this at 70 then there is no excuse to not follow these exercises along with others in her latest book (see below).

1.The Chest Expansion

These movements are not only dramatic in the way that they tone and firm the arms and the muscles that support the bust, but they are also excellent for correcting posture, relieving tension in the neck and shoulders, and realigning the spine.

  • Stand with your feet together and your back straight. Interlock your hands behind your back, gently pulling your shoulders back and straightening your arms.
  • Inhale and lift your arms up as high as possible behind your back, then exhale as you slowly bend forward into your maximum forward bend, keeping your back and legs straight. Breathing normally, relax and your maximum position for a count of 5.
  • Your aim is to be able to place your chin on the top of your knee. It will happen eventually, but remember not to strain!
  • Inhale and lift your head, then slowly return to an upright position and gently bend backwards, pulling your arms back down and under your bottom. In your maximum position, exhale, and hold for a count of 5.
  • Inhale and return to an upright position, hold your arms up behind your back for an extra count of 2, then lower them and relax. Repeat the movement twice.
 upper body exercise image toning upper arms image power toning exercises image
Chest Expansion 1 Chest Expansion 2 Chest Expansion 3

Benefits

On the physical level, this movement is amazing on how it tones your upper arms and releases the tension in the back of your neck and shoulders. In the forward bend it tones the back of your thighs and calves and stimulates blood flow to the head and neck area, so benefiting your skin, hair and brain cells. While bending backwards, the movement frees the chest of tension and firms the jaw and throat.

The tensions of the mind are frequently stored in the back of the neck (the proverbial pain in the neck) and lumbar spine. This powerful movement carefully relaxes both those areas.

 

2.  Pose of a Plane

This movement, as well as strengthening your arms and shoulders, releases tension in the lower back.

  • Sit straight with your hands comfortably on the floor behind you, about 1 foot behind your bottom with your fingertips facing backwards. Your legs should be straight out in front of you.
  • Inhale and, as your exhale, keeping your body in a straight line, place your weight on your arms and gently lift your body from the floor. Ensure that your legs are straight and your toes are on the floor. Hold for a count of 1 at first, increasing to 10 as you become stronger.
  • Slowly lower your bottom to the floor and relax. Repeat this movement once.

Pose of a plane yoga exercise image

Benefits

This is so good for the strength of your hands, arms, wrists and fingers. It gives great shape to your upper arms and shoulders. It helps to correct drooping shoulders and releases tension in the lower back.

 

3. Sideways Body Rise

This is another excellent arm shaper and strengthener. We have a built-in response to put a hand out to break a fall should we slip. If our wrists and arms are weak, this can easily result in a break. Yoga hand balances such as this perfectly address the problem. If you have had a wrist or arm problem, follow the directions below but do not lift your bottom – just put a little weight on your hands to strengthen them gradually. Follow these instructions only when your arms are sufficiently strong.

  • Place both hands on the floor to the right-hand side of your body. Keep your knees bent and make sure that your hands and feet are on a non-slip surface. Inhale and as your exhale, lift your body from the floor, ensuring that your weight in supported on both hands and both feet.
  • Adjust your body so that your right shoulder is directly above your right wrist and that your arm is straight. Lift your bottom and make sure that the left foot is on top of the right one and that the body is in a straight line.
  • When, and only when, you feel strong enough, lift your left arm from the floor and stretch it in a straight line, with the inside of the arm alongside your left ear. Concentrate on a spot on the floor and hold your balance for a count of 5, then relax. Gently lower your bottom to the floor and repeat on the other side. Repeat the whole movement once.

arm toning yoga exercise image

Benefits

An excellent arm toner and firmer that gives excellent shape to your upper arms and shoulders. This movement greatly strengthens the wrists, hands, elbows and shoulders. An extra benefit is in the way it stretches the hands. For those who spend many hours at the computer, the wrists can become very stiff and painful and this movement can help tremendously.

 

4. The Mountain Pose

We tend to ‘shoulder our problems’ and this beautiful movement helps lift away the pressures of the day. Although yoga cannot remove the problem, it can help remove the resulting tension.

  • Kneel down on your mat with your bottom on your heels. Some people find this very difficult to begin with. You can help yourself by placing a thick cushion on top of your calves under your bottom. If this still doesn’t feel comfortable, then sit in a cross-legged position.
  • Interlock your hands in front of you so that you are looking into the palms, then gently turn them inside out so that you are now looking at the backs of your hands.
  • Inhale and stretch your arms up above your head. Exhale and straighten your arms – imagine you are pushing the ceiling a little higher. Breathing normally, hold this stretch for a count of 5 in the maximum position. Inhale, undo your hands, exhale and slowly lower them. Repeat the movement.

best yoga exercises for upper body image

Benefits

The Mountain Posture helps to lift the pressures of life from your shoulders, it tones and firms your upper arms and enhances the flexibility of your wrists and fingers. It is excellent for strengthening the spine.

 

5. Pose of a Cow

This position helps to correct neck tension and
realign the neck and shoulder. These can frequently be imbalanced due to such things as carrying heavy shoulder bags, constant use of one arm at the expense of the other and playing lop sided sports.

This position can be astounding, with one side seeming easy and the other almost impossible. It is good to discover our imbalances. Rest assured that daily practise of this movement will gradually help correct the problem for you. Repeat the entire sequence just once.

  • Sit in a kneeling position with your bottom on your heels. If this is not possible, adopt a cross-legged pose.
  • Inhale, lift your right hand in the air and drop it over your right shoulder. Exhale and lift your left arm up behind your back, aiming to join your hands in a clasped position. Don’t worry if you cannot join them at first, just practise and soon you will be able to. In the meantime, remember your maximum position is fine.
  • Inhale and, as you gently exhale, bend forwards and aim your forehead to the floor. Breathing normally, hold this position for a count of 5, then inhale and return to an upright position. Unclasp your hands, relax and then repeat on the other side, noticing if there is a difference between the two sides.

yoga exercise to strengthen shoulders image

Benefits

Pose of a Cow helps to correct imbalances in your shoulders. It tones and firms your upper arms and firms the muscles that support the bust.

 

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.

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