Are you having trouble starting your engine in the morning? This move, called the tabletop lever and derived from the Five Tibetans, a series of exercises used by monks or lamas for more than 2,500 years, helps to energize and strengthen your entire body in about the same time it takes to pour a cup of coffee.
What it does
Demonstrated by Jennifer Kries, who uses it in her “Hot Body Cool Mind” DVD series, this move is an important multi-tasker, sculpting the muscles of the shoulders, arms and back, while toning the glutes, hamstrings, calves and core. It also improves your posture and joint mobility, Kries says, and leaves you feeling radiant.
What to do
Start seated with your back straight, hands planted at the sides of your hips and legs straight out in front of you with feet flexed, hip-width apart. Inhale deeply and press your hips up to a tabletop position, with eyes gazing up at the ceiling, neck in line with your back.
Make sure you are pressing strongly against the floor with your hands and feet and pulling your navel to your spine to protect your back. Quickly and forcefully exhale at the top and pull your body down and back to the starting position, tailbone just grazing the floor until your buttocks are seated just behind your hands. Without pausing, immediately repeat the move; inhaling and pushing back up to the tabletop position. Do this exercise quickly in a steady unbroken rhythm.
Start with seven repetitions of the up-and-back sequence, and work up to as many as 21 as you gain strength and stamina.