The “Inverted” to my Sneakers: 5 Minute Yoga Ab Workout

20130722-081840.jpg
Forearm Headstand – Hands are clasped and in a triangle shape for support. Weight is in the forearms, not the neck!

I did my 200 hour yoga teacher training in 2009, and using it in moderation can be a great way to stay injury free. I really need to practice what I preach and get back on my mat more often. In my attempt to get back to some good habits, my goal is to do two one hour yoga practices each week.  I follow the basic primary series syllabus, which already has a ton of core work throughout the whole practice. The sequence finishes off with closing postures, which is a sequence including backbends, a shoulderstand sequence, and a headstand sequence. Since I almost never like to do things traditionally, I use the final posture, headstand (sirsasana), to do some extra core work. I was going through the little sequence that I came up with, and thought it might be fun to share for anyone who is up for the challenge.

This workout assumes you have a headstand practice, but I’ve included some modification tips for those who don’t do headstands, or are just learning how to lift up. For some tips on how to lift into a headstand, check out these videos from my favorite Ashtanga yogi, Kino MacGregor (I tried taking a video of my own for the whole sequence but can’t figure out how the heck to upload it – it’s 5 minutes!):

She’s pretty amazing, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet and practice with her on several occasions. Her tips have helped me immensely with several challenging postures! If you’re more familiar with a tripod headstand, you could absolutely modify this sequence using that method. If you’re experienced, I’ve provided some tips on how you can make this sequence more challenging. Here is the basic sequence:

1. Lift up into a forearm headstand with straight legs, and hold for one minute. Once you are up and comfortable in your headstand, try to work up to holding for one minute.

  • Modifications: If you can’t do a headstand, try working on dolphin pose or practice trying to lift into a headstand for the same length of time (about a minute).
  • If you can do a headstand but can’t lift with straight legs, bring your knees into your chest and lift from there, or spend your minute working on trying to lift with straight legs. Straight legs = stronger core!
  • If you can lift up but can’t hold for a minute, just hold as long as you can and try to work up to that one minute mark.
  • To make it more challenging, hold your headstand for a longer period of time.

2. Lower into forearm plank. From your headstand, lower with straight legs until your toes touch the ground and walk your feet directly back, into a forearm plank. Once in the proper position, try to work on holding for one minute.

  • Modifications: If you need a break, move into child’s pose until you are ready to resume the workout.
  • If you never lifted into headstand in the first place, get into a forearm plank at this point.
  • If you can’t lower with straight legs, lower down by bringing your knees into your chest and make your way into forearm plank.
  • To make it more challenging, increase the length of time you hold your plank.

3. Switch to side plank. Without dropping down from your plank, shift to side plank and try to work on holding for 30 seconds. Switch sides, moving through plank pose – don’t drop down!

  • Modifications: If your arms need a break, move into child’s pose and hold until you are ready to resume the workout.
  • In side plank,  you can always drop the knee closest to the floor and use it like a kickstand. Same great ab workout to build those core muscles!
  • To make it more challenging, increase the length of time that you hold your side planks.

4. Side plank with leg lift. Switch sides again, and lift the top leg and hold for 30 seconds. Or, you can do side plank leg lifts (my latest preference – it’s HARD!) by lowering and lifting the top leg. Either way, I do 30 seconds on one one side, and then switch to the other side without dropping down.

  • Modifications: If your arms need a break, move into child’s pose and hold until you are ready to resume the workout.
  • If you can’t lift your leg, omit the leg lift and just repeat the side plank until you feel ready to attempt the leg lift.
  • In side plank, you can always drop the knee closest to the floor and use it like a kickstand. You could still lift the top leg from this position OR do the leg lifts. Same great ab workout to build those core muscles!
  • To make it more challenging, increase the length of time that you hold your side planks with the leg lift.

5. Lift back up to headstand. Move back to a forearm plank, readjust your positioning and lift back up to a headstand – try to lift with straight legs! Once you are up, hold for 15 seconds to steady yourself.

  • Modifications: If you can’t do a headstand, try working on dolphin pose and practice trying to lift into a headstand.
  • If you can do a headstand but can’t lift with straight legs, bring your knees into your chest and lift from there, or spend your minute working on trying to lift with straight legs. Straight legs = stronger core!
  • To make it more challenging, hold your headstand for a longer period of time.

6. Leg lifts. Keeping those legs straight, lower them slowly and tap your toes to the floor (don’t put weight in the toes!) and lift. Repeat, repeat, repeat…until you can’t repeat anymore!

  • Modifications: If you can’t do a headstand, continue working on dolphin pose and practice trying to lift into a headstand.
  • If you are struggling with the straight leg thing, just lower as far as you can go with straight legs (even if it’s only an inch!) and lift. Try to go a little lower with each practice.
  • Or, try an upside down cannonball: from your headstand, take your knees into your chest and hold in your headstand, and then lift back up into your headstand.
  • To make it more challenging, repeat as many leg lifts as possible.

7. Pike. With straight legs, lower your legs halfway to pike pose and hold for 15 seconds. Raise back to headstand, and then slooooowwwwllllyyyy lower to the floor and relax in child’s pose. You’re done!!

  • Modifications: If you can’t do a headstand, continue working on dolphin pose and practice trying to lift into a headstand.
  • If you are struggling with the straight leg thing, just lower as far as you can go with straight legs (even if it’s only an inch!) and hold in your mini-pike. Try to go a little lower with each practice – you’ll get it!
  • Or, try an upside down cannonball: from your headstand, take your knees into your chest and hold here for the duration of the hold, then lift back up into your headstand.
  • To make it more challenging, hold your pike longer.

Give it a try! It’s a lot of fun and a hell of a core workout!

♥ Namaste ♥

Can you do a headstand? Do you have any special go-to ab workouts you love?

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “The “Inverted” to my Sneakers: 5 Minute Yoga Ab Workout

  1. Single-Tracked Mind May 14, 2015 / 3:24 pm

    Awesome tutorial! I am really afraid of doing a headstand, but the other stuff is feasible. haha

    • allisonfiorini May 14, 2015 / 3:26 pm

      Haha!! You can do it! If all else fails you can always try against a wall, too!!!

  2. charissarunning May 14, 2015 / 4:01 pm

    So I can do a headstand but I have to balance with my hands on the ground in order to hold it. For some reason, I haven’t been able to quite get the forearm headstand thing going… but I’m determined to get there in my yoga practice! Also, I can do a forearm stand and a headstand when I use my leg for momentum, but I guess I just need a stronger core to be able to glide into it better?? You must have abs of steel to do this workout you described!! I absolutely LOVE inversions, but the hardest thing is finding the space to practice them safely lol

    • allisonfiorini May 14, 2015 / 4:03 pm

      I actually took a video of myself and doing the whole sequence and it wouldn’t upload! I think it makes more sense if you can see what I’m talking about but it is super fun. Try it! I bet you can do more than you think!

      • charissarunning May 14, 2015 / 4:13 pm

        Oooh I’ve tried to upload a video before too and couldn’t…I found out you have to pay extra for that capability unless you’re just embedding a Youtube video or something. But that’s a suggestion for you. If you have a Youtube account, you could upload it there and link to it 🙂

      • allisonfiorini May 14, 2015 / 4:30 pm

        Hmmmm! That’s a great idea!!!!

  3. Maddie @ Dixie Runs May 15, 2015 / 4:55 pm

    I have zero balance… Most days I’m lucky if I make it through the day on two feet much less my head 🙂 so awesome that you can do that!

  4. Jess@Flying Feet In Faith May 16, 2015 / 6:18 am

    I’ve never tried a headstand before of any kind. Must try now. Yoga is soooo beneficial to the runner. I used to practice at least one a week now I’m good if I get it in once a month! I need to get back to it. It can be such a challenge to fit everything in! Running, strength training, cross-training….yoga…oh and then there’s that thing called life! lol 😉 thanks for sharing this routine. Ill give it a shot!

    • allisonfiorini May 16, 2015 / 6:20 am

      I feel like there are so many great things to do and soooooo little time!!! Let me know if you try it what you think!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s