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Shape up your arms with yoga!

October 25, 2007
Most people think of yoga as a gentle routine that is usually done while recuperating from an ailment or trying to control a chronic one. Actually, yoga is more than a complete health tonic; it is also a cosmetic beauty regimen par excellence. In the latter category of yogic practices one main component comprises arm-toners.

These practices are more powerful than the regular resistance training done with gym machines or weight training done with dumbbells. That is because yoga uses the force of gravity and the body's own weight. This brings into play not just the main muscles, as with these conventional exercises, but also subtle muscle mass in the arms (fachsia). This promises complete and thorough muscle toning.

Another important component that only yoga involves is the play of neuro-muscular co-ordination. Yogic arm strengthening exercises involve balance which challenges our neuro-muscular system powerfully. The brain has to be actively involved in maintaining each pose. This revives slack nerve connections so that not just our arms but also our brain gets toned! Again, since both arms are equally challenged, both brain hemispheres are equally worked out, balancing our social selves too.

One more interesting aspect of yogic arm strengtheners is that they massage, challenge and work out the supporting cast of muscles in our shoulders, chest, neck and abdomen (this does not happen with dumb-bell training). This in turn boosts our respiratory system since these muscles are supporting players to the act of breathing. This means a set of arm toners from yoga not only make your entire upper limb superbly toned but give a bouquet of other unexpected health and emotional benefits.

Yoga acharya Shameem Akthar, trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, instructs you on five yogic arm-toning practices.

Points to note: Avoid these practices if you have weak wrists. Before attempting these poses strengthen your wrists with some yogic wrist-powering practices and sun salutations or surya namaskars.

Text: Shameem Akthar
Photographs: Jahnavi Sheriff
Catch more of Shameem's yoga writings and about her upcoming workshops at jaisivananda.blogspot.com.

Harmony Foundation recently published Shameem Akthar's book, Yoga for Silvers. To place an order, please write to: anita.rosario@harmonyindia.org
Also read: 5 yoga poses to build stamina

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