Toning Up With Yoga
by Gemma Carter

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Although Yoga is associated with such benefits as reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and relieving joint pains it can also be a great way to get back in shape, toning up the body.

Recent studies show that certain positions in yoga can promote weight loss, strength and more toned muscles so here are a few of the best positions to focus on those difficult areas.

Core and abdominals

  • The plank - this is usually done coming out of the downward dog or table pose and is great for tightening core abdominal muscles. Try holding the position for 10 long breathes focusing on pulling your stomach in for maximum results.
  • Boat pose with leg lifts - sit on your mat, lean back on your forearms and lift your legs straight up. Firm your abs and then lower your legs down to hover above the floor before lifting them back up.
  • Boat pose with block - sitting on your mat, knees bent, keep your feet flat on the floor. Place a block between your upper thighs and come to a boat pose by leaning your torso in and lifting your legs. Hold for a few breaths and release. Repeat this 20 times.

Derriere

  • Bridge - lie on your back with knees bent and feet hip width apart. Roll the shoulder under and reach the hands towards your feet. On exhalation raise your buttocks and elongate your back. Relax your face and jaw and breathe deeply.
  • Mountain pose - stand with both feet touching from the heel to toe and keep your back straight with palms facing forward. Slightly tighten the knees, thighs, abs and buttocks maintaining a firm posture and exhale.
  • Camel - sit up on the knees with heels pressed against your buttocks and calves on the floor. Reach back to grasp each ankle with each hand and inhale while slowly lifting your buttocks slightly forward.

Legs and thighs

  • Warrior with static lunge - begin with feet slightly apart and lift your arms up over your head with palms facing each other. Turn your left foot out 90 degrees and right 45 degrees. Rotate your hips and torso so they are facing the same directions as your left leg. Bend your left knee to a right angle, knee over foot and hold for 10 long breaths. Straighten the front leg and hold then repeat the bent knee and hold.
  • Chair pose - from the mountain pose, bend the knees until the thighs are almost parallel to the floor keeping your buttocks low. Bring your arms towards the ceiling and straight. Hold for 10-15 seconds and breathe.

Arms and shoulders

  • Downward dog push ups - starting in a downward dog, lower both forearms to the ground and hold for 5 breathes before pressing back up. Repeat this 5 to 10 times.
  • Crow pose (A.K.A. Crane pose) - bending knees, bring your palms flat on the floor. Place your knees on the backs of the arms and start to come forward lifting your head as you go. Take your feet off the floor, one at a time so you balance when both feet are up. This is a very challenging pose, so may take time.
  • Chaturanga - start in a plank and firm your shoulder blades against your back ribs pressing in towards your pubis. When exhaling lower your torso and legs a few inches parallel to the floor. Draw your pubis towards your navel, keeping your shoulder blades broad and firm. Then look up, holding for 10 to 30 seconds.

Some of the above poses can give great results but can be quite difficult to achieve for beginners so start slow and make sure to stretch properly before and after each session to prevent overstretching and injury.

Article by:
Gemma Carter who is a fully trained fitness and life coach.
Visit her website at http://www.cartercoaching.co.uk or email her at: gemma@cartercoaching.co.uk
 

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