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I'm a Yoga Teacher, and These Are the Poses I Recommend For Toning Your Whole Body

Popsugar logo Popsugar 29-07-2018 Gina Florio
a girl riding a wave on a surfboard in the water © Unsplash

Yoga may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider shedding fat, getting strong, and losing weight. Evway. I've been teaching yoga for six years, and I've seen a lot of people find success with weight loss and yoga. Here are the top poses I recommend for beginners who want to shape up their body.en though yoga shouldn't be your only workout if you're trying to change your body and get healthy, it's certainly a great supplemental workout to help you along the 

Side Fierce

Side Fierce © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Side Fierce

This pose will strengthen your entire lower body, especially your quads. That means your squats and lunges will only improve in the gym. Only rotate as far as your thoracic spine allows.

  • Stand with your feet together. Inhale to bend your knees and lower your hips as you raise your arms overhead, coming into Fierce Pose.
  • 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.
  • Stay for five breaths, rise back up to Fierce, then repeat on the other side.

Downward Facing Dog

a person posing for the camera: Downward Facing Dog © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Downward Facing Dog

Here's an oldie but a goodie. It may seem like an easy pose, but you'll tone your shoulders, upper body, and hamstrings all at once.

  • Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees should be underneath your hips.
  • Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into an upside down "V" shape called Downward Facing Dog.
  • Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Relax your head between your arms and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Hold for five breaths.

Four-Limbed Staff

a person lying on the floor: Four-Limbed Staff © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Four-Limbed Staff

You know how effective push-ups are, and here's the ultimate yoga version of a push-up, which will tone your arms, chest, and triceps. Put your knees on the ground for some extra support.

  • Begin at the front of your mat in Mountain Pose. Inhale to raise your arms up, and exhale to fold forward into Standing Forward Bend. Inhale, straighten your arms and back, and look up. As you exhale, step or jump both feet back (so you're in a push-up position) and bend your elbows straight behind you, brushing them against the sides of your body, lowering into Four-Limbed Staff.
  • Keep your body parallel to the ground and your shoulders parallel with your elbows. Draw your navel toward your spine to protect your lower back, holding for five breaths.

Warrior 1

a person jumping up in the air: Warrior 1 © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Warrior 1

Your hips will thank you when you do this posture regularly. You'll feel a lot stronger in your lower body, and this will translate into your gym routines, as well as shape up your legs.

  • Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Step your right foot forward between your hands. Turn your left heel in, press into your feet, and lift your torso up.
  • Lift your arms up and press your palms together. Draw your shoulder blades down toward your hips and gaze up at your hands.
  • Stay here for five breaths. Then come back to Downward Facing Dog, step your left foot forward, and do Warrior 1 on the other side.

Warrior 2

a woman in a green room: Warrior 2 © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Warrior 2

This classic yoga pose is the ultimate way to tone up your legs and glutes. Get ready to feel the burn!

  • Step your right foot forward between your palms and come into Warrior 1.
  • Extend your arms out in T-position as you rotate your torso to the left, coming into Warrior 2. Ideally your front thigh should be parallel to the ground and your right knee directly over your right ankle. Make sure your shoulders are stacked directly above your pelvis.
  • Gaze past your right fingertips, holding for five breaths. Step your left foot forward and do this pose on the other side.

Warrior 3

Warrior 3 © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Warrior 3

Tone your hamstrings, hips, and glutes with this single-leg posture. If you need a modification, bring your arms alongside your body rather than in front of you.

  • Step your right leg forward, lower your torso, and lift your left leg, bringing your body parallel with the ground.
  • Extend your hands out in front of you, pressing your palms together firmly. If it bothers your shoulders to press your hands together, separate your arms so they're shoulder-width apart. If extending your arms creates pain or pressure in your lower back, rest your hands on your hips.
  • Engage your abs, holding this position for five deep breaths. Then lower your left leg, step your left leg forward, and repeat Warrior 3 on the left side.

Open Triangle

Open Triangle © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Open Triangle

This is a great way to stabilize your entire hip area and gain some length in the side of your waist. If you're a beginner, you may not be able to reach the floor yet, and that's OK. Either use a block for assistance or put your hand on your shin.

  • Step your right foot forward between your hands and rise up into Warrior 1. Open your hips, arms, and chest into Warrior 2.
  • Straighten your right leg and turn your left toes slightly to the right, making a 45-degree angle. Keep both legs straight as you reach your right hand straight out over your right leg. Lower your right hand, resting it on your right shin or a block or placing your palm flat on the floor. Extend your left arm straight up and gaze at your left fingertips.
  • Stay like this for five deep breaths. Then lift your torso up and either rotate your feet to the left or come into Down Dog, step your left foot forward between your hands, and repeat this pose on the left side.

Reverse Warrior

Reverse Warrior © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Reverse Warrior

Want to whittle away your waist? This full-body posture is what you need. Not only will you be strengthening and toning your lower body, but the side of your waist also gets lengthened along the way.

  • Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Step your right foot forward between your hands, coming into Warrior 1. Then open your hips, arms, and chest into Warrior 2.
  • Gently arch back and rest your left hand on the back of your left leg. Raise your right arm overhead, feeling the stretch through the right side of your body. Make sure you continue to lower your hips and press your front knee forward so it's directly over your right ankle.
  • Remain here for five breaths. Lift your torso up, place your hands on the floor, and move back into Down Dog. Step your left foot forward and do this pose on the left side.

Goddess

a woman posing for a picture: Goddess © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Goddess

Think of this as a plié squat, which means your inner thighs will be on fire!

  • Stand at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose. Step open to the right, opening your legs about three feet apart. Turn your heels in.
  • Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Your knees should be directly over your ankles, so adjust your feet if you need to. Lift your arms up, bending your elbows so they are at 90-degree angles, and open your palms away from you.
  • Hold here for five deep breaths.

Side Plank

a person jumping in the air: Side Plank © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Side Plank

Your arms and upper body will feel super toned when you try this variation of plank. Place one knee on the ground if you're a beginner and you don't feel stable enough to do the full posture.

  • Begin in Downward Facing Dog. Step both feet together so your big toes are touching.
  • Move your right hand over to the left so it's at the center of your mat (still at the top of your mat). Roll over to your right side and plant your right heel down so you are balancing on the outside edge of your right foot, stacking your flexed feet.
  • Reach your left arm up above you and, if you can, gaze up at your palm. Stay here for five deep breaths, trying to keep your core strong and the pose steady.
  • Lower your upper hand to the mat. Repeat this pose on the other side.

Boat

a person posing for the camera: Boat © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Boat

Get ready for a strong core! You know you can't get away without a Boat pose if you're looking for a strengthening yoga sequence.

  • Begin sitting on your mat. Bend your knees and lift your feet off the floor, balancing on your tush. Keep the spine long and straighten the legs as much as you can without rounding the back. If this is too hard, keep the knees bent — you're still working your core.
  • Hold for five complete breaths.

Wide Squat

a person standing in a room: Wide Squat © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Wide Squat

This is the best way to open up your hips, strengthen your legs, and increase mobility in your lumbar spine. Practice this every day to tone up your lower body and prepare yourself for heavy lifting.

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Bend your knees and lower your hips toward the ground.
  • Bring your palms together at your heart center and firmly press your elbows against the inside of your knees. This will help to open your hips even farther. Shift weight onto your heels and lengthen the crown of your head toward the ceiling.
  • Hold the pose for five deep breaths.

Wide-Legged Forward Bend

a woman sitting on a table: Wide-Legged Forward Bend © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Wide-Legged Forward Bend

This deep stretch strengthens and lengthens your hamstrings, as well as your posterior chain — the back of your body.

  • Stand with your feet about three to four feet apart with your heels slightly wider than your toes.
  • Engage your abs and fold forward, hinging at your hips and leading with your chest.
  • Hold your big toes with your first two fingers and thumb. If you can't reach your toes, place your hands somewhere on your legs. Keep your elbows above your wrists, shoulders relaxed away from the ears.
  • Keep your arms relaxed, and use your abs to pull your torso closer to your thighs.
  • Stay here for five deep breaths.

Cobra

a person sitting on a wooden surface: Cobra © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Cobra

Don't forget about the importance of your back. It's just as important to strengthen the muscles around your spine as any other body parts you care about. This posture is the best way to tone up your whole back.

  • Lie on your belly and bring your legs together so your knees are touching. Extend your arms straight out in front of you.
  • As you lift your head up off the ground, begin to slowly walk your hands in, keeping your hips and thighs on the ground, but gently arching your lower back. Walk them in as far as you can, keeping your elbows slightly bent.
  • Actively relax, keeping your gaze forward or lowering your head back between your shoulder blades.
  • Stay here for five breaths, opening through the chest and abs, and then lower your torso back to the mat.

Locust

a man lying on a table: Locust © POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson Locust

Here's another spine strengthener. You're going to look even more gorgeous and feel more confident in your backless dresses.

  • Lie on your belly with your legs together. Place your arms by your sides so your palms are facing up.
  • As you inhale, lift your legs, head, and upper body off the floor. Your hands remain on the floor for support. As you breathe, extend the crown of your head away from your toes, lengthening as much as you can through your spine.
  • Stay for five breaths and then release back to the mat.

Also watch: How to make that workout count (Provided by Cover Video)

In pics: 50 tips to help you lose weight (Provided by Popsugar)



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