It was only a matter of time before someone tried to cross-pollinate hand weights with yoga poses. After all, people love the stretched artistry of yoga, but they want to be toned, too. The result is not yoga in the deep spiritual tradition, but it is a great way to exercise: slow, gentle, and challenging.
A nationally ranked triathlete, Anthony Carillo was drawn to yoga's calming and centering benefits to complement his grueling ironman regimen. He found a natural synergy between yoga and weights. "I was standing in Warrior II and could feel my legs burning as I got deeper into the lunge," he says. "I wondered how I could get a workout for my arms and shoulders at the same time." The answer: small hand weights. "Combining the two can completely integrate your mind, body, and breath," he says. "Yoga helps you reduce stress, increase flexibility, and improve range of motion, while strength training fires up your metabolism, increases lean muscle mass, and builds strong bones." Carillo created the following routine for Body+Soul from his book, "Iron Yoga."
Builds strength, increases flexibility, enhances focus, improves core stability, and calms and centers
Use Light Weights
A pair of 2- to 5-pound dumbbells is fine.
Practice Yogic Breathing
Breathe through your nose, inhaling slowly for four to five counts, allowing your belly and chest to expand. Exhale for five counts. "The goal is to coordinate your breath with each movement. The deeper you breathe, the more you are able to engage and stabilize your core" says Bonnie Herbert, Iron Yoga instructor and model for this story.
On the last repetition of each move, hold the position for a complete inhalation and exhalation while squeezing and contracting the muscles you're using. This "static contraction" helps tone and firm your muscles faster.
Listen to Your Joints
Although it's normal to feel the burn of muscles working hard, you should never feel pain or discomfort in your joints. If you do, stop.
Ask Your Doctor
Always talk with your health-care practitioner before beginning this or any new exercise regimen.