Cat Woods is the founder of Ballet Sculpt. She’s also a vinyasa yoga, barre and mat Pilates teacher in Melbourne. Cat has been blogging and writing for local and international media on health, fitness, arts and lifestyle for over 8 years. She presents on plant-based eating and fitness for community and corporate groups also. Discover her five minute routine to fire up your core muscles at the start of the day.
“Whether I’m teaching a few classes, or whether I’m going to spend hours of my morning at the laptop, I always start my day the same way.
My iPhone alarm starts playing my chosen song (Bob Marley, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”), I roll out of bed to the right, open the blinds and say hello to the outside world. Then I make my bed. One of my beloved yoga teachers (Denise Payne) advised me once that the first step in handling a sense of anxiety was to just make my bed. It’s excellent advice. If you can make small, practical efforts to establish order in your life, it sets you up to keep going in the right direction.
Then I go straight to the bathroom and wash my face thoroughly. I had acne as a teenager so as an adult, I am still strict about my skincare routine. I am super fussy about what I use on my face. I then splash micellar water on my face to make sure there’s no residue of cleanser.
Cleansed, hair in a topknot, I walk into my loungeroom where my yoga mat takes pride of place on one side of the room. I lie on it, reach my arms over my head and stretch my fingertips and toes away to lengthen my spine while it’s still warm from the bed. I bring my knees over my hips in a tabletop position and drop my knees to the left and right very slowly, being careful to keep my shoulders anchored to the mat and my abdominals contracted (gently pulled in). Then I drop my feet hip distance apart and raise my hips into a bridge position. If I’m feeling ready, I take my palms down by my ears and come into a full wheel pose. This is an extreme backbend for a beginner so definitely start with bridge!
I take 5 full breaths then ease back down. Then I extend my legs long on the mat, keeping them drawn together and reach my arms towards my toes. I inhale through the nose. As I peel my head and shoulders off the mat, looking to my toes, I purse my lips and exhale. On the exhale, deeply brace the belly muscles and try to roll up with control. At the top, sit high on the sit-bones. Inhale, then on the exhale round through the back as you slowly unfurl onto the mat again. Do this 8 times.
I finish off by coming onto my hands and the balls of my feet for a full plank. Make sure your wrist, elbow and shoulder joints are aligned perfectly. The feet are hip distance apart. Actively push back through the heels and don’t allow your hips to sag at all. Think about keeping neutral spine and pelvic alignment. By imagining the front hip bones connecting towards the armpits, you can avoid sticking your bum in the air.
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