A Yogi’s Guide to Merging Calisthenics and Yoga
Summary: In this blog post, yoga meets calisthenics for robust and flexible health. Let’s see how the art of calisthenics can be merged with the science of yoga.
The word Calisthenics is defined as a form of exercise involving a variety of gross motor and rhythmic movements– push-ups, jumping jacks, lunges, running, planks, etc., that are often performed in a steady flow essentially using one’s own body weight and gravity. Calisthenics is derived from the Greek words Kallos (beauty) and Stenos (strength). When performed vigorously and with variety, the Calisthenics increases strength, fitness, and flexibility of the practitioners in addition to enhancing the psychomotor skills like balance, coordination, and agility.
Wait! Does it sound much similar to the science of yoga? Well, the art of yoga is a practice of using body weight to hold the postures for magnifying the strength and for amplifying the flexibility. But, the yogic system is much more– it is a wholesome approach to overall well-being. It is a comprehensive system focusing on the body, mind, and spirit.
On whole, the aim of calisthenic exercises is to build muscular strength, to improve aerobic condition as well as to enhance balance and body-mind connection, the calisthenics perfectly complements the yogic science.
The merging of the two art forms of yoga and calisthenics is a great way to advance a fitness regimen. Here is a guide to merging the calisthenics and yoga:
- Incorporate Lunges into Warrior Poses: Lunges are great to complement the practice of Warrior Series (I-III), Virabhadrasana.
In the lunge position, one leg is placed in a forward direction with knee bent over the ankle and the other leg extended behind.
Flex the back foot and square the hips to the ground. Use the body weight to build strength. Try lowering the knee of the stretched leg towards the floor and then slowly straighten the leg while maintaining your balance in the pose.
To add depth to the practice, exhale to lower and inhale to lift. In the position, keep your ligaments and tissues safe. Lunges and Warrior series both are effective in building body strength to the maximum.
- Do Sit-Ups in Boat Pose:
The sit-ups tone the core muscles and give your chest, hip flexors, and legs a good workout while the boat pose strengthens and stimulates the body organs. Therefore, Boat pose (Navasana) and Sit-Ups can be combined.
Sit on a yoga mat with feet resting on the floor and hands behind the hips. Send the energy through the thighs down to the feet to make them heavier. Lengthen the spine and look forward. During the entire length of the practice, avoid rounding of the spine that puts pressure on the lower back and makes it difficult for you to perform boat pose. Keep the feet, knees, and ankles firm and together.
Slowly, lift the feet and straighten the legs. Bring your heels higher than the head. Either hoist the arms upward or forward parallel to the floor. Now, add calisthenics, and work towards canoe by lowering the body and legs. Keep the heels as in the boat pose, open the collarbone, and lift the sternum. Transition from Navasana to Canoe at least 3-4 times.
- Add Planks to Vinyasa Flow:
Planks are wonderful calisthenics exercises that can be blended with yoga for achieving outstanding core strength.
For the plank position, come onto your fours with shoulders over the wrists. Open your shoulders and spread your collarbones.
Pull your body to lengthen the spine and to bring your body into a straight line with the energy flowing from the crown of the head to the back of the heels. Slowly, build up to Chaturangasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose). Tuck your toes under, bend the elbows to the side and lower the body to the ground. Using your breath and back muscles to transition to the plank pose. Flow from chaturanga and plank for 5 times. Increase the intensity of the pose by coming into a prone position then into plank pose and finally into Downward-Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana).
- Perform Handstand Pushups:
Merge the calisthenic exercise of push-ups with the Handstand yoga pose for strength, balance, and benefits of inversion.
To come into a Handstand pose (Adho- Mukha Vrksasana), start in a Downward dog pose, bend the knees and step the foot closer to the wall. Find your balance and stretch the legs up straight with your arms carrying the maximum weight.
Now, slowly practice the pushups by lowering your body and moving the shoulders forward. Again lift up into the headstand and slowly come into a push-up stance while keeping the body straight.
Merging yoga and calisthenics isn’t easy. But, it is surely great if you wish to advance your practice and desire for an absolutely lean and strong body, a deep sense of perspective, and the plethora of spiritual benefits.
This post was brought to you by Bipin Baloni.
Bipin Baloni is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He provides Yoga Teacher Training in India. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas.