What is Calisthenics?
Calisthenics is a form of resistance and strength training using gravity and body weight. Often called a ‘street workout’, it’s the perfect exercise for springtime because you can use the big outdoors. The same goes for yoga too. There’s nothing more soul-nourishing than feeling the warmth of the first rays of the sun whilst completing your sun salutations. On the surface, yoga and calisthenics look quite different though. So, why would you combine them?
One is slower-paced and focuses on static poses, whilst the other is full of adrenaline-pumping, fast-moving reps. Where’s the similarity you’re wondering? In actual fact, there are many similarities. Both use large groups of muscles at the same time. Both improve posture, strength, stability and body composition. And both have been around for thousands of years! So, why wait? Change up your yoga routine now and add some calisthenic exercises to it.
Combining Yoga and Calisthenics
Get the blood pumping through your veins with a combined workout. Here’s a basic example of how to combine both forms of exercise to get you started.
The calisthenics exercises at the start will give your body a great warm-up and cardio workout. Complete a minimum of 2-3 rounds (a round consists of doing each exercise 10-12 times) of each calisthenic exercise. Factor in 2 minutes of rest in between each round.
Then slow down the pace by moving from lunges into the classic yoga warrior poses to strengthen and stretch muscles. You can add extra calisthenics exercises or yoga poses into this routine depending on the time that’s available to you. Finish off with a lovely half-lotus or full lotus stretch before getting back to reality.
Starting Position: Legs straight, arms down by the side.
Jump up, spreading feet widely apart (beyond hip-width). At the same time, bring arms above the head, hands almost touching. Jump again, this time lowering arms down by your side and feet together.
Starting Position: Begin with the body facing forward. Feet should be parallel and sit directly underneath shoulders.
Move feet a few inches apart, point toes slightly outwards. Lower into the squat (imagine you’re lowering yourself into a chair). Lower hips back and down. Bend knees so that weight is distributed evenly.
Starting Position: Stand straight, position feet shoulder-width apart. Now squat, and lower hands until they’re resting on the floor in front of your feet.
Shift your body weight onto your hands. Jump the legs backward until they’re fully extended (and you’re in the plank position). Jump your feet back towards the hands, landing just outside either foot. Reach hands over your head, whilst simultaneously leaping upwards. On landing, immediately lower back into the squat position again.
Starting Position: Stand straight, relax shoulders, and place feet in line with hips. Hands can be placed on hips or reach them out in front.
Now, take a big step, transferring your weight forward. Step the other foot backwards. Centre your body weight between both legs. Raise your left heel slightly. Bend knees, whilst simultaneously lowering your body into the bend. Back thigh remains parallel to the floor. Go as low as feels comfortable. Opposite shin should remain vertical though. Press front heel firmly into the ground, straighten your heels and slowly return to the starting position.
Starting Position: After completing your rest period, go back into a lunge position.
Step the right foot forward between your arms. Bend into the right thigh. Keep your left foot in position. Right toes face forward, left toes at 45 degrees. (Imagine that the right and left feet are in opposite lanes of a road). Feet too close to the midline will feel like you’re walking a tightrope.
Come up, looking in towards your navel (imagine curling your tailbone underneath). Roll up gently and reach your fingertips up and overhead. Using the right arm, reach behind, grab your top inner thigh and turn it towards the sky. Your left hip will swing forward. Reach your fingertips up towards the sky again and bend into the front knee. Reach the shin forward, rather than the knee forward. Draw the stomach in.
Starting Position: Warrior I
Stretch arms out to the side and gently widen your stance. Turn hip bones towards the side of your mat. Your front knee needs to be over your front ankle whilst your back leg remains straight. Keep reaching outwards with both fingertips. Shoulders align over the hips. Gaze forward. Remain strong and stable.
Why not add in the extended side angle pose, triangle pose, and tree pose at this point? Or you could move into the sitting poses. The world’s your oyster and you can add whichever poses work for you. There’s no dispute though that at the end of a combined calisthenic and yoga workout, you’ll feel like you’ve worked every muscle!