With the commencement of spring upon us and the promise of summer approaching around the corner, many of us are looking for new ways to tone our bodies for an upcoming debut in shorts, crop tops, and summer dresses. For many, hitting the gym still isn’t an option, but thankfully, we don’t have to look much further – yoga is widely recognized as one of the best and most rewarding ways to tone the more stubborn parts of our bodies. The practice of yoga enacts a myriad of benefits: alleviating chronic pain, reducing stress and anxiety, and even improving cognitive function. But of course, it doesn’t stop there. Yogis also greatly benefit from the fitness training that yoga entails – practicing yoga is proven to tone the body, strengthen muscles, and increase flexibility. We’ll be divulging a roadmap of yoga poses that will tone and strengthen your body, and have you feeling like your best self!
Side Plank Pose
Benefits of this pose: improves balance, engages and tones your core, strengthens arms. Classic plank pose is an alternative pose that can achieve the same results.
- Begin by coming down to your mat and laying on your right side. Keep your legs straight as you stack your left leg and foot on top of your right leg and foot.
- With your body still remaining planted on the mat, rest your right forearm on the mat. Your right forearm should now be lined up under your right shoulder.
- Engage your core as you slowly lift your hips off of the mat. Your body should now form a straight line from your feet to your shoulders.
- As for your left arm: you may place your left hand on your hip, or even straighten it out and reach towards the ceiling if you’re up for a challenge.
- Hold this pose for a few breaths before gradually bringing your hips back down to the mat for a swift recovery break. Next, recycle this pose by turning onto your left side.
Benefits of this pose: strengthens legs, tones abs & thighs. Bridge pose is also said to improve digestion and boost circulatory health.
- Begin by laying down on your back with knees bent and your feet planted on the mat. Your arms should remain at your sides with palms facing down.
- Slowly, begin to lift your hips and buttocks off the mat. As your hips raise higher, try to ensure that your shoulders and arms remain grounded.
- Optional: If you choose, you may graze your hands across the mat to meet each other. Interlock your fingers under your bridge pose, but make sure that they are still firmly planted to the mat. This variation can make for a wonderful chest expansion.
- Hold this pose for a few breaths, allowing each breath to release your body of any clenching that may occur. Slowly, bring your hips back down to the mat.
Benefits of this pose: the benefits of this pose are essentially the same as those listed on Bridge Pose, being that Wheel Pose is a more advanced modification of Bridge. What sets Wheel apart is that it enlists a more concentrated opening of the chest. Additionally, more reliance is based within the wrists and arms, which builds strength in those areas.
- Just as we began with Bridge Pose, come down to the mat and lie on your back with knees bent and feet planted flat on the mat.
- Bring your hands back so that they are positioned on either side of your head. While your palms are planted on the mat, your elbows should be bent and pointed upwards in the direction of the ceiling.
- Slowly, brace your feet and palms onto your mat as you gradually begin to lift your hips off the floor. As your hips come up further off the mat, you may readjust your head so that the crown of your head is now planted on the mat.
- Straighten your arms out and gently lift your head up from the mat. If your body allows, you may lift your hips up higher towards the direction of the ceiling. Try to ensure that your elbows are not splaying outwards on both sides.
- Hold this pose for a few moments as you focus on each inhalation and exhalation you take.
- To come down, tuck your chin in towards your chest and slowly begin to bring your body back down to the mat. You may repeat this pose as you see fit. If you find that this pose is too challenging, feel free to alternate with Bridge Pose instead as they achieve similar benefits.
Benefits of this pose: tones and strengthens ab muscles & core, engages and strengthens and strengthens hip flexors.
- Begin by coming down to the mat in a seated position, with your knees bent and feet planted on the mat.
- Slowly lift your feet off the mat and allow them to hover in the air while keeping your spine and core engaged. Gradually bring your legs higher off the ground and begin to straighten your legs out. Your legs should ideally be at a 45 degree angle, using the floor as a reference base.
- Be mindful of your spine, and try to keep it as straight as possible. This may be tricky to do with your legs straightened out off the mat, so it may help to bend your knees a bit to keep your upper body straight. Your body should ideally resemble a V-shape.
- Straighten your arms out and allow them to hover. Your hands should be alongside both of your knees.
- Remain in this pose for a few breaths before slowly lowering your legs and arms to the mat.
If you decide to try any of these poses for the first time, be sure to stretch first and take your body’s limitations into account as some of these poses do require practice and time to master (as do all good things in life).