Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch! SIX group classes a week!

    Nia: Tues and Thurs at 9 am, Fri at 10:15 am

    Yoga: Tues at 10:30 am and Thurs at 6:00 pm

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 am

    Please see my website for details! I sub for the City of San Jose and the YMCA so check my website for dates and times!

    I am also available for private Nia / yoga / Personal Training!

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Posts Tagged ‘calves’

More On Downward Facing Dog

Posted by terrepruitt on July 1, 2014

I once briefly wrote about the Downward Facing Dog yoga pose in my post Down Dog. This is considered a resting pose. For many; those starting out or those wanting a gentle type of workout, it is not extremely restful. There are many muscles that are being used so it is a very active pose. This pose could be qualified as a “push exercise” or using the muscles that are used for pushing. Muscles on the back of the body are considered the “push muscles”. There are many benefits to this pose.

The lower body gets the biggest stretch. If you are able to straighten your legs and place your heels on the ground the back of your legs get the stretch. The hamstrings get a good stretch along with the calves. If your heels are up there is still a nice stretch going on. With many people working in office chairs and having the posture of bent legs, tight hamstrings is a very common situation. So having heels up and bent knees is a widely used modification.

No matter how your legs are (straight or bent) your arms are holding you up. This pose does require your arms to do some work. It is considered an arm supported pose. In conjunction with latissimus dorsi, the muscles by the ribs, and your deltoids the triceps are working. So for some their arms might feel fatigued. So even though this pose is allowing for a very big stretch in the back of the legs there are muscles working on the top half of the body.

Even though the focus is in pressing the tailbone to the sky we don’t ignore the front. The front of the legs get a bit of attention, as we are lifting the knee caps.  We also have a sense of our spine lengthening.

In addition to increasing flexibility in your legs, hips, and ankles. And strengthening arms and wrist, this pose relieves depression and helps calm the mind. Additional benefits include:
-Energizing the body
-Increasing circulation
-Improving digestion
-Relieving headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
And it can be therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis

I have learned to like this pose a bit more. I was reminded of what I tell my students and what we practice in Nia. Find the Joy in the movement, if you cannot tweak it until you do. I believe a portion of my dislike of this pose back when I first wrote about it, was that I was forcing it.  I was doing it in away that did not feel good for my back. Once I stopped the complete loose action of my spine, the pose became more comfortable. As it became easier there was room to move into the pose better and relax into it.

So, like many things it is good to do it at your level. As you improve it can be done better. The benefits can be received throughout the practice. It is a practice.

How is your Downward Facing Dog?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Frogs Not Just Slimy Amphibians

Posted by terrepruitt on December 1, 2011

Wet, slimy, noisy, some say even tasty.  No, I am not talking about frogs the amphibians. There is an exercise I learned in Pilates I know as Frogs.  I can’t think of a move we do in Nia that is comparable.  You lie on your back with your legs in the air.  Your heels touch, toes out, feet flexed like in first position, your thighs are squeezing.  Then you bend your knees, then straighten them as if you are jumping like a frog. This can be a somewhat big bend or a little pulse-type movement.  Concentrate on keeping the heels together, your feet flexed, and your thigh muscles tight.   Make sure you squeeze really tight when your legs are straight.  This is one of those exercises where bigger is not necessarily better.  The little pulses really compel you to squeeze your legs.

You can add another element to the exercise if you would like, by lowering your legs to any degree.  Another way to adjust this exercise besides lowering your legs is by making it more challenging by adding resistance tubing or a resistance band.  You would hold the resistance band in both hands and secure the band around your heels/feet then do the same frog leg jumping motion.

This exercise is a great workout for the legs.  With your feet flexed and heels touching you might sense your gastrocnemius and soleus, the muscles of the calves.  You will probably sense the stretch.  The lower leg muscles that are on the front of your legs are the ones you will probably sense most.  These are the ones really working to keep your foot flexed.  The  anterior tibial is the main muscle used in dorsiflexion, which is flexing your foot towards your shin.  Another muscles used in dorsiflexion is the extensor hallucis longus.  So these muscles will get a great workout.

Really pushing through your heels and straightening your legs stretches the calves as well as the hamstrings.  People with tight hamstrings might have to practice a bit in order to get their legs straight.  Even though it is not the hamstrings that straighten the leg, when they are tight, the legs cannot always straighten.  The hamstrings are the muscles that will work to bend the knee.

Now the main muscles that you will sense in this exercise are the quadriceps.  These large muscles in your upper leg will be the ones that are helping you to keep your legs together.  While you are doing this exercise you really want to concentrate on keeping your thighs together.  squeeze them together.  This squeezing is ONE of the ways this exercise works the thighs.  It also works the thighs when you straighten the legs.  The quadriceps are the ones that will also straighten the leg.

Since you are going to be flexing the knees and hips and rotating the thigh outward you are going to be working the sartorius.  This muscle starts at the outside of the hip and crosses over the thigh bone and inserts in at the inner part of the tibia, the bone below the knee.  This muscles crosses over two joints.

If you are really squeezing your legs this will also work your glutes.  This exercise can even allow the abs to get in on the fun.

This is a great lower body exercise.  It allows for so many muscles to be worked.  As with many exercises it can be done a variety of ways to increase the challenge.  So did you get down on the floor and try it in the middle of reading this?  I am sure that your co-workers would understand.  🙂

Posted in Exercise and Working Out | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »