Try this dynamic yoga sequence to help you build a stronger body.
Swimsuit season is here, and if you’re like most of us, you may be taking a close look at some areas of your body that are in need of some serious toning before they see the sun. It can be tough to find a workout that will target all of your problem areas at the same time, but that’s where yoga comes in! Practicing yoga is great for not only calming the mind but also giving you an all-over strong body.
The poses in the yoga sequence below are perfect for strengthening every area that your teeny bikini will put on display this summer, including your butt, abs, and upper body. If you’re up for the challenge, follow this sequence through on the right side, and then repeat on the left.
By Jenny Sugar
Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Spread your fingers wide, and lower your forearms to the mat. Check to make sure you’re creating a straight line between your elbows and middle fingers. Try to straighten your legs and lower your heels toward the floor, flaring your heels slightly wider than your toes so the outside edges of your feet are parallel with the outside edges of the mat. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Hold Quarter Dog for five breaths.
From Quarter Dog, lift your elbows up, coming back into Downward Facing Dog. Step both feet together so your big toes are touching. Move your left hand over to the right six or so inches so it’s at the upper center of your mat. Step your left foot forward two inches, and plant the sole of your left foot firmly on the mat so your toes are pointing to the right. Roll open to your left side, and lift your right hand off the mat. Raise your right leg up into the air. Stay here, balancing on your left hand and foot. Keep your shoulders, spine, and hips in one straight line, and gaze toward your right hand. Hold here for five deep breaths, keeping your core strong and the pose steady.
From Balancing Star, lower your right hand and right foot to the mat, coming into a plank (top of a push-up) position with straight arms and legs. Make sure your shoulders are stacked over your wrists. Bend your right knee, and squeeze it into your chest. Hold here in Knee-Up Plank for five breaths.
Burning Low Lunge
From Knee-Up Plank, step your right foot all the way forward between your hands, coming into a low lunge.
Lower your torso, and reach your right arm underneath your bent right knee. Interlace both hands in front of your right ankle. Keep all the weight in your legs, resisting the urge to lean into your hands. If this is too intense for your thigh muscle to hold (it’s a killer move!), rest one or both hands on the floor. Breathe deeply in this Burning Low Lunge for five breaths.
From Burning Low Lunge pose, lower your hands to the floor, step your right foot back, and take a Vinyasa (Four-Limbed Staff to Up Dog to Down Dog). Inhale to step or hop both feet forward between the hands, and exhale to fold over straight legs. Inhale to rise up to a standing position. Make sure your feet are together, and as you inhale, bend the knees and squat down, raising the arms into the air. Exhale to cross your left elbow over to your outer right knee. Press your palms together, and actively push your bottom elbow against your thigh to lift and rotate your chest up, increasing the twist. Pull your left hip back slightly, making sure both knees are parallel. Stay in Side Fierce for five breaths.
Extended Standing Straddle
From Side Fierce, rotate your torso back to the center, and stand up. Take a step open to the right so your feet are parallel and about three to four feet apart. Inhale to extend your arms straight above you. With strong legs, exhale as you hinge at your hips, holding your torso parallel to the floor. Focus on drawing your belly in, and shift weight forward toward your toes. If this causes too much strain on your lower back, bring your hands to your hips or thighs for support. Stay in Extended Standing Straddle for five breaths.
From Extended Standing Straddle, lift your torso all the way up. Point your heels in, bend your knees, and squat down so your quads are parallel with the floor. Tuck your tailbone in, keeping your shoulders stacked over your hips. Raise your arms in the air, bending your elbows so they are at 90-degree angles, opening your palms away from you. Keeping weight back in your heels, hold Goddess pose for five breaths.
From Goddess, straighten your legs, and step your right foot to the front of your mat so the feet are together.
Shift weight into your right foot, and extend your arms overhead. As you lift your left leg behind you, lower your chest so your torso and left leg are parallel to the floor. Draw your belly in to protect your lower back. If your lower back hurts, place your hands on your hips. Balance in Warrior III for five deep breaths.
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All images courtesy of POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson.