The sun is out! And so are our legs, arms and abs. In winter time we cover up, which sometimes makes us forget to keep them in shape, keep them toned for when the sun is peeking around the corner. And even though yoga is not meant as a pure physical activity, it is still a perfect sport to work on toning your legs, arms and abs. And the absolute best part is that the benefits of calming your mind, getting a radiant skin, changing your perspective on life, improving your relationships and feeling your absolute best, are added for free. So let’s get you ready for summer!
All 9 poses will help you tone your muscles and all poses work on at least 2 areas, however, their main focus is divided as follows:
- Row 1: Three poses that will mainly help you tone your arms
- Row 2: Will help you tone your legs
- Row 3: Will work on your abs.
Some basis rules when you perform the poses:
- Make long, deep and controlled breaths through your nose. Focus on your breath going in and out while being in a posture. Try to make your exhale slightly longer than your inhale.
- Let your breath initiate a movement. Inhale is a movement upwards, exhale is a movement downwards or a twist.
- Work both sides of your body. Do every posture on the right side and then switch to the left.
- There is NO pose in yoga where we have our shoulders close to our ears. So when you are settled in a pose, always pay attention to your shoulders. Roll them backwards and down.
- When in the pose try to be aware of what comes up, what happens in your body.
Picture 1: Vasisthasana
Side plank pose. Bring your right hand under your face. Turn to the outside of your right foot. Bring your left foot on top of your right foot. If this is too heavy, place your left foot behind your right one (not before or after). Take your left hand up in the sky, look up to your left hand. If you can take up your left leg and grab your big toe with your left hand. Try to stay for a minimum of 3 cycles of breath.
Picture 2: Chaturanga Dandasana
Four-Limbed Staff Pose. From the plank, move your body weight forward. You are now on the tips of your toes. Bring your body weight down, like an airplane coming to land. Create a 90 degrees angle from wrist to elbow and elbow to shoulder. Your shoulders don’t go below your elbows. If you want you can hold the pose for a few breaths to build up strength.
Picture 3: Urdhva Mukha Savanasana
Upward facing dog pose. Lay down on your belly. Place your hands next to your chest, fingers facing forward. On an inhale, push yourself half way. Then straighten the legs, the knees come of the mat. Next inhale, straighten your arms. Shoulders are straight over your wrists. Look forward or up.
TONING LEGS (and gluteus)
Picture 4: Utkatasana
Chair pose. Come up from your previous pose by bending your knees. On an inhale bring both arms up. Arms are in line with the shoulders, palms are facing each other. Your tailbone is turned inwards.
Picture 5: Virabhadrasana III
Warrior 3 pose. From the previous pose keep your arms where they are. Bring the weight onto your front foot, take up your back leg and move your body forward. Your torso, arms and back leg are in one line and parallel to the floor. Contract your abdominal muscles for balance and make both your legs as active as possible. Stay for 3 cycles of breath. Change side.
Picture 6: Purvottanasana
Straight bridge. Sit down on the floor. Legs are fully on the mat and feet are hips distance apart. Place your hands on the mat, fingers pointing towards your feet. Your hands are straight under your shoulders (so next to your body). The hands are placed just behind the hips and thus behind your body. Inhale, push your hips up keep the legs straight. Feet stay fully on the mat, while you push your hips up as high as possible. It helps to squeeze your gluteus together. Stay for 5 cycles of breath.
Picture 7: Plank pose, knee to elbow
Plank pose with one knee forward. Make it look like you are a straight plank. Have your hips aligned with your body, so not high in the air or close to the ground. Shoulders are 90 degrees over your wrists. Contract your abdominal muscles. Bring your right knee to your right elbow. Try to stay here for a minimum 3 cycles of breath. Change side.
Picture 8: Paripurna Navasana
Boat pose. Place your feet in front of you, hips distance apart. Hold with your hands under your knees; use this force to straighten your back. Keep your back as straight as possible during the entire pose. Balance on your sit bones; take your feet off the floor. If possible stretch arms out on shoulder height and a next step is to straighten your legs. Try to stay for a minimum of 5 breaths.
Picture 9: Salamba Sirsasana 2, legs 90 degrees.
Supported headstand 2. Start in a table top and place your elbows straight under your shoulders. Then interlace the fingers. That spot is where you can place the head. Then place your hands where the elbows where, fingers pointed forward (towards the head). Take the knees off the mat, straighten the legs. Walk your feet closer to your face, until your feet come off the mat. Bring your legs up at the same time. Stop when your legs are in a 90 degree angle with the floor. Stay there for a couple of breaths. Lower them closer to the floor again, right before your feet touch the floor, bring them back up. Repeat this as many times as you can. Stay for at least 5 breaths with the legs at 90 degrees. If you are afraid to fall over, use the wall for support.