Take a common yoga pose, figure out some amped-up variation, and call it “(fill-in-the-blank) on steroids.”
That’s how anybody comes up with more advanced versions of yoga poses. Chatturanga on steroids. Warrior 1 on steroids. The splits on steroids. Here’s one you won’t see: shavasana on steroids. I mean, really, how do you rev-up relaxation? Yelling “Relax! Harder!”?
Anyway, if you’re looking to shape and strengthen your derrière and arms, today’s pose will invigorate the common upward-facing dog in a few simple steps.
1. Come into the standard upward facing dog position: Hands propping you up, hips sinking, shoulderblades pressed down, head lifted away from the shoulders and knees off the ground. Some people prefer toes pointed; I’m a toes-curled-under kind of guy.
2. Walk your right foot to the left side of your mat.
3. Cross your left leg on top, and touch the toes of your left foot down. Knees remain off the ground, hips continue to sink; upper body continues to lift (though it might not curve back quite as far as a regular up-dog).
4. Stay for 3 full breaths and then switch to the other side.
Benefits: Gentle but effective strengthener of shoulders, triceps, wrists, glutes, quadriceps, and abdominals.
Avoid if: Your shoulders, triceps, wrists, glutes, quadriceps, or abdominals complain. Pay close attention to your wrists and low back: there’s a difference between them feeling some challenge and just plain hurting. If they don’t like up-dog on steroids, my guess is they won’t like the regular up-dog either, and cobra (both knees on the ground, belly down, far less pressure on your hands and far gentler upward slope through the spine) might be better suited to your body’s needs than either version of upward dog.
Final thoughts: Despite rumors to the contrary, this pose was not invented by a yogi trying to stave off the need to pee.