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As an adult, we’ve all been told by our parents or other authority figures that exercise is good for us — so why aren’t more of us getting off the couch? The truth is there are many reasons why people don’t work up a sweat regularly, including lack of time, physical discomfort, and boredom. Let us help with these 9 Yoga poses that will not only tone your body but improve your overall health and well-being.
If exercising isn’t something you enjoy, then you may find yourself struggling to stick to any workout plan. However, yoga offers plenty of benefits in addition to helping you achieve your health goals. As one of the most popular forms of exercise today, yoga helps improve flexibility, strength, balance, coordination, concentration, and control over movement patterns.
It also makes workouts feel less monotonous and repetitive while giving them greater structure and focus. In short, it gives you everything you need to stay motivated and on track toward achieving your personal wellness objectives. And now, thanks to these 9 easy yoga exercises, you’ll never have excuses about skipping a session again!
Warrior I Yoga Poses (Warrior Pose)
The warrior pose strengthens core muscles like abs, hips, back, chest, shoulders, arms, legs, and neck. This move will help tone your upper body as well as strengthen your lower body.
To begin this posture, stand straight on both feet, aligning the crown of your head directly above your elbows instead of below them. Lift the front leg slightly behind parallel to the ground until only the heel touches the floor. Keep the rear foot firmly planted on the mat without locking the knees.
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Press into the heels to lift even higher and keep the thighs firm and vertical. Raise the sternum upward as much as possible and reach forward as far as you comfortably can.
Make sure not to lean forward excessively because this could put excessive strain on your low back. Hold the position for 10 seconds, inhale deeply through your nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth.
Looking to get more from your Yoga Session, consider adding resistance bands. For help see our Best Resistance Bands for Women.
Repeat this sequence three times on each side before transitioning to the next standing variation. You can also do the warrior pose from a seated position. Simply sit down onto your buttocks with your tailbone resting on the mat and the tops of your feet aligned directly under your hip bones. Lean forward slightly and raise your torso as high as possible without tilting backward too far.
Try to maintain a neutral spine throughout the entire exercise. Lower the chin gently to rest your forehead softly against your shinbones. Take several deep breaths and repeat once more on each side.
Warrior Pose Variations:
Sit crosswise on your buttocks with your bottom half stretched across the length of your calves. Keeping the pelvis steady, hinge forward and place your hands palms together in front of you on the floor. Raise your torso as high as possible and bring your right knee to touch your left elbow. Your torso should remain upright and perpendicular to the floor.
Exhaling, release the ribcage downward. Then take a breath in and hold your abdominal area tight and squeeze your shoulder blades together. While keeping the lower back pressed firmly into the seat, press your fingertips into the mat beneath you and flex your wrists upwards towards the ceiling. Breathe fully in and fill your lungs completely. When ready, slowly return to center and repeat on the opposite side.
Seated Warrior 2
Lie flat on your stomach with your forearms placed along the outer edges of your shins. Extend your toes away from each other and extend your fingers away from each other. Rest your head between your bent knees. Bring your awareness to your breathing. Allow your belly to rise and fall smoothly with each inhalation and exhalation respectively.
After taking 3 full breaths, contract your abdomen and tighten your pelvic region around the navel as tightly as possible. Continue to breathe steadily and make sure to keep your tongue lightly tucked inside your mouth. Once complete, release the tension in your belly and relax. Slowly stretch your body forwards and backwards reaching as far forward as you can comfortably go. Do this motion twice on each side before relaxing.
Hero (Hero’s pose)
This classic pose improves circulation, stimulates lymphatic drainage, stretches your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, groin, calf muscles, and inner thigh muscles. By strengthening your abdominal muscles and stretching your quads, you build endurance and promote muscle growth.
To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your thighs spread wide enough apart to allow room for your knees to bend comfortably in line with your hips. Place your hands palm-down beside your ears with thumbs pointing up towards the sky and index fingers pointing sideways to each other.
Gently tuck the tip of your tailbone underneath your sitting bone and draw your pubic mound downwards towards your anus. Straighten your legs and press your buttock cheeks outward. Firmly bite your top lip to create a slight pressure point and stretch your whole body upwards using your abdominal muscles.
With every inhale, lift your torso further upwards and with every exhale, soften your gaze downwards. Focus your attention on your nostrils and imagine filling your lungs with fresh oxygen. Be aware of how your shoulders open up as you lengthen your collarbones and continue lifting your chest upwards.
Complete your cycle of four natural rounds of breath five times per side before returning to starting position. Beginners can modify this exercise by lying on their sides instead of being laid prone. Prop your forearm(s) on your extended arm/leg depending upon which direction you choose to face.
High plank pose builds upper body stability and core strength. This pose challenges the stabilizer muscles of your trunk such as deltoids, pectorals, trapezius, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, multifidus, serratus anterior, scalenes, levator scapulae, rhomboids, infraspinatas, and teres major. Strengthening your core helps prevent injuries and promotes healthy posture.
For beginners, start by supporting your weight on your forearms, palms facing inward. Slightly bend your elbows and keep your elbows close to your body. Maintain a long, straight back with a slight arch in your lower back. Engage your abdominal wall and set your feet approximately two feet apart.
Now, exhale forcefully and push your body up into a perfect tabletop position. Don’t let your hips drop during the movement. Instead, rotate your pelvis freely so your lower back doesn’t lose its natural curvature. Maintaining proper alignment, hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute and gradually increase duration as you advance. Remember to always keep your eyes focused on the horizon and avoid blinking unnecessarily.
During this exercise, it’s important to remember to breathe naturally and evenly. Also, pay special attention to maintaining correct spinal extension at all times.
Tip: Perform this exercise first thing in the morning after waking up when blood flow has increased to your brain and nervous system.
Lateral Bend with Reach Up
Lateral bends improve range of motion in your shoulders, ankles, hips, and spine. They are also very useful in correcting imbalances caused by asymmetric movements. This exercise targets your obliques abdominals and encourages better breathing mechanics.
To perform lateral bending with reach up, lie on your side with your elbow alongside your waistline, placing your hand under your armpit. Elevate your torso slightly off the floor. Contract your oblique abdominals and engage your external rotators. Flex your waist and raise your torso as high as possible. Now, slowly lower your torso closer to the floor. Repeat twelve times on each side before switching sides.
Lateral Bend Variations:
One Leg Lateral Bend
Lay flat on your side with your torso propped up by your elbow. Keep your free leg straight and use your opposite forearm as support to stabilize your torso. On your raised side, roll your ankle 90 degrees clockwise. From that same rotated position, bend your knee and reach your opposite arm overhead. Return to the initial position and switch to the opposite side.
Lie on your side with your elbow alongside your waistline. Keep your torso elevated and your free leg straight. Cross your leg at least six inches wider than your hips. Now, contract your oblique abdominals and lift your torso as high as possible. Next, twist your torso counterclockwise and simultaneously rotate your crossed leg outwards. Release the twisting action and slowly lower your torso closer to the floor. Switch sides and repeat the procedure.
Lie on your side with your elbow alongside your waistline. Support your torso by bringing your opposite elbow to meet your opposite knee. Simultaneously crunch your torso towards your bended knee. Remain engaged on your backside and keep your head relaxed. Repeat ten times on each side before switching sides.
Walking lunges target your abductors, adductors, gluteal muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. These are excellent moves for building strength and stamina.
Walk out to your lunge positions with your feet roughly 12 inches apart. Stand tall on your non-leading leg and step forward with your leading leg. Plant your leading foot squarely on the floor and shift your trailing foot 6 to 9 inches forward. Step forward with your leading foot another stride length and plant your trailing foot securely on the floor. That completes one repetition. Repeat 20 repetitions per side.
Dolphin Plank Pose
This pose is excellent for toning the arms, shoulders, and chest. It also helps to improve posture and relieve stress.
To begin, come into a plank position with your feet hip-width apart and your arms extended directly above your shoulders. Keep your core engaged and your body in a straight line from head to heels. From this position, tuck your toes and press your hips up and back until you assume a dolphin pose. Hold this position for five breaths before returning to plank. Repeat two times.
This pose strengthens the spine, glutes, and hamstrings while improving flexibility in the hip flexors.
Lie flat on your back with feet flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart, legs bent to 90 degrees. Place your hands on the floor alongside your body, palms flat. Drive your heels into the floor, and lift your torso and upper legs into the air, forming a bridge. Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in so that your lower back remains flat on the floor. Hold for two seconds, and then lower your hips back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
This is a great move for toning the shoulders, triceps, and core.
Start in a modified push-up position with your knees and feet together, hips lifted so your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Place your hands beneath your shoulders, fingers pointing forward. Keeping your core engaged, bend your elbows and slowly lower your head and chest towards the floor. Stop when your chin is level with your hands, then press back up to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
There are many excellent exercises that can help you tone and sculpt your body. These moves are designed to work your entire body, so be sure to include them in your workout routine.