Yoga is a great way to strengthen your muscles, reduce stress, and lose weight. With a daily yoga workout, you can be shedding weight in as little as three weeks! Practicing yoga will affect more than your waistline, however. It has been proven to improve respiration, flexibility, and mood; foster a strong sense of calm and inner peace; and create an overall physical and mental balance of your being.
Unleash your inner warrior! These three poses increase stamina, strengthen your legs, back, shoulders, and arms, and improve balance. The foundation of strength and power will help you to move on to more challenging exercises and asana. Try these particularly effective poses at least three times a week. Hold each pose one time for three to five deep breaths. As you become stronger, hold the poses for longer, up to eight breaths.
How to do it: Begin by standing up straight and then extending your left leg 1 to 1.5 meters behind you (depending on how long your legs are). Bend your knee so that it is directly above the ankle and a 90 degree angle is formed. With head, shoulders, and knees pointed forward and left foot turned in slightly, raise your arms above your head, palms facing one another and fingers pointed to the sky as you inhale. Look up at the ceiling. As you exhale, relax your shoulders and hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lower your arms to your sides and bring your left leg slowly back in to reverse the position. Extend your right leg back and repeat the pose.
How to do it: Similar to Warrior I, the Warrior II begins by spreading your feet about 1 to 1.5 meters apart (depending on how long your legs are). Raise both arms up to shoulder height and parallel to the floor. Turn your head to the left so that your chin is directly over your left shoulder. Turn your left foot 90 degrees so that your nose, left knee, and toes are all pointing the same way. Remember to keep your hips, torso, and arms facing front. Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lower your arms and bring your leg slowly back in to reverse the position to the right. Breathing should be slow and deliberate throughout this pose.
How to do it: Begin standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Raise both arms over your head. You palms should be facing each other. Move your left foot backward. Lean forward slightly. Your arms, back, and left foot should form one diagonal line. Lift your left foot and lean forward further. Your left leg and outstretched arms should form a parallel line with the floor. Straighten your right leg. Your body should form a “T”-shape. Breathe through your stomach and keep your back straight.
The Crescent and Rocking Boat poses firm your abs (and the sides of your abs), hips, and thighs. These are notorious ‘problem areas’ for fat stores. Coincidence? I think not…
How to do it: Begin by standing with feet together, toes pointing forward, and arms at your sides. On the inhale, raise your arms over your head and point your fingertips toward the ceiling. On the exhale, bend forward from your hips and bring your hands to the floor. Inhale. On the next exhale, extend your right leg back into a lunge (left knee bent 90 degrees over your ankle). Inhale and raise arms over your head again and gaze forward. Hold for a few breaths and then return to standing. Repeat the move with the other leg.
How to do it: Sit with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and hands on your thighs. With your torso straight and head in line with your body (imagine your spine to the crown of your head is a straight pole) lean back about 45 degrees. Raise your feet so your calves are parallel to the floor, with your toes pointed. On the inhale, extend your arms and legs (keeping your legs together). Exhale, and on the next inhale, lower your torso and legs so your body forms a wider V shape. Exhale and raise torso and legs and repeat three to five times.