If becoming lean is your goal, something that is synergistic to your lifestyle you do not need to look at a heavy daily routine to see results. Research shows that yoga can help in toning up and increasing strength. Besides it also contributes to flexibility and mental focus. While yoga may not always of conventional strength training, it does have the ability to provide the modern woman with a toned body and muscle strength. So, whether you are a pre or postnatal phase or simply do not have the time, yoga is the answer. So here are some simple and beneficial exercises.
(Disclaimer: Consult your doctor before beginning these exercises).
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
- Stand erect with the toes touching each other, heels slightly apart. Such that the weight of the body is on the feet.
- Make the thighs taut and stretchy. Lift the inner ankles to strengthen the inner arches. Turn the upper thighs slightly inward. Then lift the pubis toward the navel by stimulating the internal muscles
- The shoulder blades then need to be stretched back now lift the breastbone upwards while expanding the collar
- The arms should be beside the body.
Benefits: This is the starting pose in yoga and it improves posture while strengthening thighs. Helpful to tone the abdomen and hips.
Child’s Pose (Bālāsana)
- Kneel with your feet touching each other and knees slightly apart. Rest your Sit on your heels.
- Lay the midriff between the thighs and take the head forward to touch the ground. The arms should be extended in front with the hands touching the ground. Inhale and exhale taking deep breaths. This pose should be maintained for at least a minute.
Benefits: This pose stretches and relaxes the hips and the lower back.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana)
- Go down to the floor on your hands and knees. Place your knees directly below the hips and extend the palms a little ahead of the shoulders. Spread the fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn the toes under.
- Press the hands and lift your knees off the floor and straighten your legs. ( Caution- If the hamstring are stiff, a gentle bend in the knees will do).
- Take your hands slowly forward and the feet back a slowly to stretch the pose. Squeeze the thighs as you press them toward. Try to place the heels back and down on the floor.
- Keep the head and neck relaxed and let your shoulder blades slide down toward the feet. Take deep breaths.
Benefits: This asana is helpful for strengthening the upper body, it increases circulation. It Stretches the spine, opens the hamstrings and calves; and is helpful for the triceps.
Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
- The first step is to get into a Dog position. Then draw your body forward till the arms are perpendicular to the floor
- Press your heels back taking the support of a wall behind. Extend the skull forward such that the body is in a straight line from the top to the heels. Hold the position as long as it is comfortable but at least a minute.
Benefits: This pose builds upper body strength—and works magic on the muscles in the arms, back, and works magic on the core.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
- Raise your arms at a right angle to the floor. Then bend the knees and as if sitting on a chair. Try to take the thighs to a parallel position to the floor.
- The arms have to be in a parallel position and the palms should face inwards.
- Pill in the midriff and keep the lower back straight. The weight of the body should be on the heels. Hold for five deep breaths in and out through the nose.
Benefits: This pose is helpful to make the quadriceps stronger, and consequently the knees. Excellent for improving posture, stretching the spine and the ankles. It also energizes the diaphragm and the heart.
Tree Pose (Vriksasana)
- Stand straight with the legs together and keep the hands on the hips. Bend the right knee and place the palm of the right foot on the ankle to start with. As you become confident with the posture, try resting it on the left thigh.
- Hold your hands in front as if praying to start with. Over a period of time, the arms can be raised upwards as one becomes confident. After a minute, shift to the other foot.
Benefits: This is a true yogi’s pose and helps in Improving balance, strengthens thighs, buttocks, ankles. The spine and core are also strengthened. A great exercise to calm the mind and relieve stress.
Boat Pose (Navasana)
Strengthens core, psoas muscle, quadriceps:
- Sit down on the ground with bent knees as your feet are on the floor. Now go back ever so slightly as you rest on your hip bones. Lift the legs with the knees still bent.
2. Now take the arms forward and then try to straighten the legs. Hold the position as long as comfortable and then repeat after a while.
Benefits: Excellent for building a solid core and toning the midriff. Besides, it has several health benefits for kidneys, thyroid and prostate, and intestines
Grasshopper (Maksikanagasana – simple variation)
- First comes the plank pose, followed by the lower body to touch the floor.
- Stretch your arms forward, your palms facing inwards and lifting the chest and legs slightly, as much as you can and for as long as you can comfortably.
- Come back to the original position. You can repeat this sequence after a few seconds of relaxation.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
- Lie on the back body facing upward. Draw the knees inward with the feet flat on the floor. The arms should be positioned along the side of the body in a straight position.
- Put pressure on the feet and raise the buttocks upward. Hold as comfortable and repeat after a while.
Benefits: The chest and rib are stimulated and expanded. Back muscles are strengthened along with the hamstrings.
Remember one does not have to be a yogi to do these exercises. They are simple and can be easily merged into your daily routine. In the end, we aim for a leaner and fitter woman. Also remember once you notice the benefits you can also follow the mantra of – if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
Vivek Roy is an enthusiastic Yoga blogger and Traveler from India. He has done yoga teacher training in India. He loves to travel and share the knowledge of yoga around the world. For more information about him visit his website Sattva Yoga Academy.