Target and tone your upper body with these yoga poses.
Winter is the time to start thinking about getting your arms in sculpted and ready for the tank tops and strapless dresses of summer. However, if you’re not seeing the results you want just from doing basic strength-training exercises, you should definitely give yoga a try!
The challenging yoga poses below require you to use your upper body to support your body weigh. The result? Strong, shapely arms and shoulders that will have you feeling ultra-confident by the time the warmer weather rolls around.
By Jenny Sugar
Downward Facing Dog may look relaxing, but it’s a killer move for toning your arms and upper back. Stick one leg in the air for Three-Legged Dog, and it’s even more challenging. Hold for five breaths on both sides.
This is the full expression of Sage Pose, but if your hamstrings aren’t very flexible, keep both feet on the ground for the beginner version called Side Plank. Hold for five breaths and then switch sides for another five.
A pose that requires equal amounts of balance and strength, you’ll feel Crow working your forearms, upper arms, shoulders, and upper back, as well as your core. Work on holding this pose for five breaths, gazing at the ground below you to help keep you steady. Up for more of a challenge? Try Side Crow.
Wheel Pose is meant to increase flexibility in your spine, but it’ll also sculpt the muscles in your upper back and triceps. For even more of a challenge, try these backbend push-ups.
Once you can hold Headstand with ease, it becomes a relaxing and grounding pose. If you can hold it much longer than the recommended five breaths, you’ll start to feel your shoulders and upper-back burn. If you have a difficult time balancing, do this pose in front of a wall. Not a headstand pro quite yet? Try this sequence to help you stand on your head.
While the oh-so-common Down Dog works your upper body, Quarter Dog works it a little differently. If this one is easy, go ahead and work on Forearm Stand to really work your shoulders and upper back. If you find Forearm Stand daunting, prep for it with this sequence.
Though Intense East looks easy, this pose really challenges your triceps and upper back, and for an added bonus, you’ll also tone your tush and the backs of your legs. Hold this pose for five breaths, actively pressing into the feet to lift the hips as high as you can.
Though usually only held for half a breath in Sun Salutations, when held for five breaths, Chaturanga works your upper body and core like no other. Make it even more challenging by alternately lifting one foot off the floor.
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All images courtesy of POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson.