by Jessie Benson | February 22, 2017 6:00 pm
Are you dreaming of summer and taking your yoga practice back outside on the water? Jessie Benson, founder of FloYo, an international standup paddle board yoga brand, has put together a BOSU yoga sequence which will test your balance and flexibility, challenge your core and activate the same muscles that are activated in SUP yoga classes.
Developed in 1999, BOSU® stands for “both sides utilized” and this one versatile piece of equipment (which is found in most gyms) can be used in countless ways to help improve balance, sharpen your reflexes and reshape your body. The BOSU looks a lot like half of an exercise ball, with a flat platform on one side and rubber dome on the other- both sides can be used depending on what poses and/or exercises you are practicing.
When you take your typical yoga poses and practice them on the BOSU ball the instability of the BOSU requires that you use more muscles to stabilize your body- this is very similar to the concept of SUP Yoga. When we have water below us and an unstable board to balance on, we engage each muscle more and have to think about our body alignment and weight distribution in each and every pose.
Whether you are a seasoned SUP yogi, or interested in trying it for the first time this summer, the below BOSU yoga sequence is sure to improve your balance and get you ready to take your practice to the boards!
1. Spinal Balance (option to bind): Begin with the dome shape facing up and come into a table top position with your knees on the BOSU and hands on the ground beneath your shoulders. Reach your right arm straight out in front of you and extend your left leg straight out behind you. Hold arm and leg extended for a few rounds of breath. If you’d like to add in a quad stretch you can bend your left knee and reach back with your right hand to grab a hold of the top of the foot. Activate your quad by pushing your foot into your hand.
2. Plank (option: Plank w/ leg lift): Flip the BOSU so that the flat platform side is facing up. Place both of your hands onto the flat surface of the BOSU and step your feet back to high plank pose. You can hold here, keeping your wrists, elbows and shoulders in one line or you can lift one foot off the ground for a bit more of a challenge.
3. Chair Pose (options: open arm twist, prayer twist, half bind, full bind): This pose can be done with either side of the BOSU facing up. The dome face up will be less of a challenge than the flat side up. In either position, step on to the BOSU and keep your feet separated at hips width distance apart. Once your feet are in position begin to sit down into a squat position, keeping your knees in line with your ankles and your weight slightly in the heels. You can reach your arms up above your head or keep your hands in prayer position at your heart center. Other options include prayer twist, open arm twist or a half/full bind.
4. Side Plank (option: with a leg lift): Begin with the dome side up and place one forearm on the dome. Extend both of your legs long coming in to a side plank position. Stay on your forearm to prevent wrist injury. Stack your top hip on top of bottom hip and top shoulder on top of lower shoulder. Feet can be stacked or staggered or you can try lifting the top leg for more of a challenge.
5. Standing knee to chest (option to add a twist): This pose can be done with either the dome up or down- standing on the flat platform will offer a bit more of a balance challenge. Step onto the BOSU with both feet. Begin to bring your right foot to the center of the BOSU and lift your left knee towards your chest. Create a basket grip with your hands and hold on to your shin, drawing the knee up towards your chest. If you feel balanced and ready to advance the pose, begin to twist your torso towards the bent knee shifting your grip so that the left arm reaches behind you and the right hand holds on to the outer part of the left knee or possibly even the foot, depending on your flexibility.
6. Tree Pose: This pose can be done with either the dome up or down- standing on the flat platform will offer a bit more of a balance challenge. Step both feet on to the BOSU and begin to shift your right foot to the center, drawing your left knee towards your chest. Place the left foot inside the right ankle, calf or thigh. As your press the foot into the right leg draw your left knee as far to the side of the body as possible to feel the stretch in your hip. Imagine yourself as if you are the cat tree in your living room.
7. Warrior 3: This pose can be done with either the dome up or down- standing on the flat platform will offer a bit more of a balance challenge. Step both feet on to the BOSU and begin to shift your right foot to the center and slowly raise your left leg off the BOSU and into the air behind you. And your lift your left leg, lift through your heel, reach both arms out front. Imagine making a capital shape “T” with your body.
8. Half Moon: The best way to get into Half Moon pose on the BOSU is to come from Warrior 3 pose. From Warrior 3 with your right leg as the base, begin peel open your left hip and lift up your left leg so the hip stacks on top of the right hip and open your arms so the left arms reaches up to the sky and the right arm down towards the ground. Try to keep your shoulders and hips stacked.
9. Dancer: This pose can be done with either the dome up or down- standing on the flat platform will offer a bit more of a balance challenge. Step both feet on to the BOSU and begin to shift your right foot to the center as you bend your left knee and draw the heel towards your glute. Reach your right arm up to the sky as you reach back for the top of foot or ankle of the left leg with your left hand. As you kick your left foot into your left hand reach your right arm out in front of you.
It is important to keep in mind that all of these poses can be modified and as you get more comfortable working on an unstable surface you will be able to progress the poses and hold them for longer. It is extremely important to incorporate functional balance challenges into your yoga routine and these BOSU moves will keep your body and mind challenged and get your ready to practice on a paddleboard this summer!
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