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Building a Toned Body through Yoga

Summer is here and that means ice cream, gorgeous sunsets, and…bathing suit weather. EEK!! Some of us are ready to show off our bikini-ready bodies, while others downright dread bathing suit season and just opt for the one-piece with the cover-up instead. What I notice is that the older I get, the harder it is to shape my midsection. Due to metabolism slowing down as we age, it takes extra attention on my part to eat healthily, and work out my body as a whole. For this reason, I LOVE teaching quintessential core strength practices and I love practicing them as well. If you long for a lean, graceful body, there’s no better way to achieve it than through a consistent yoga practice (keyword being consistent).

Many of us desire a strong, toned body. Contracting our muscles over and over again can cause the DOM’s (delayed onset muscle soreness) and pain if we don’t train mindfully. Beginners, as well as people who have never practiced, often think of yoga as a way to stretch and relax. This is partially true, of course, depending on the type of class and practice you are taking; however, a number of poses in Vinyasa classes require you to lift your own body weight. Think: Crow, arm balances and Plank poses. Yoga is the ultimate release and realignment tool because it not only builds strength but also sculpts a toned, sleek physique.

To build leg muscle:

Focus on poses that require standing for a longer amount of time. The Warrior poses (Virabhadrasanas in sanskrit) all strengthen your hamstrings and quadriceps, while also working on the rotation of the thighs, which is a serious challenge. Goddess pose (squats) build strength in the glutes & knee joint. Chair pose works your core, hip flexors, ankles, and calves (try chair up against a wall – -prepare for a super burn in the quad!). Tree pose stretches your thighs, while also strengthening your ankles.

To build core strength:

There are plenty of yoga poses that work your abdominal muscles. Plank pose and core planks are some of the best exercises for your core, especially as you work to hold it longer and longer. One of the most important tips to building strength in your core center is keeping the core engaged through the entire practice. Think of your 2 hip points like headlights shining forward. Now, it’s as if you were trying to draw those 2 hips points together to allow the headlights to cross at the navel. The abdominals draw toward one another and remain engaged throughout practice. We will continue to remind you to find a strong center as we often get lost with the other technicalities of the pose. Boat pose (Navasana in sanskrit) and low boat pose (Ardha Navasana) are also classic core yoga poses. Try mixing it up with some boat variations like twisting side to side or rocking your legs lower and higher, straightening your legs for a teaser. Power chair, leg raises, bicycle crunches and Locust are also great core poses. There’s seriously SO many core exercises to utilize in a yoga practice that it would be impossible to list them all.

To build arm strength:

When you’re ready to train your arms, try these poses. Side Plank (Vashistasana in sanskrit) requires you to support your body weight with only one arm, which works your shoulders and wrists. Crow pose is the one many people consider scary or impossible. With practice (and guidance) you’ll be able to master this fun asana. In fact, it is usually the first arm balance that we learn as beginners. The first time you reach Crow successfully, it’s like-whoa. — I can’t believe I didn’t face plant!

Each of these poses may feel like it’s targeting a specific part of your body. However, they actually require the use of multiple muscles at the same time. For example, side plank may make your arms quiver, but your obliques will hurt the next day too. Compound movements filtered into our Yoga Fever classes make building strength a more efficient reality because we encourage alignment and muscular engagement. It’s truly key to building strength and flexibility quickly. If you’re just moving your body from pose to pose without being cued how to engage and where, you are missing the Navasana (boat)!

As you can see, yoga is a great practice for building a lean, toned body. And all of these benefits are yours for the taking. But, don’t forget that like any exercise regimen, it takes work and commitment. Practicing yoga once or twice a week is just not going to cut it. Sadly, you’ll lose the physical advantage you gained and will take a step back if you miss too many days.

So if you’re still hoping to work on your summer beach bod, good for you! It’s definitely not too late. All you gotta do is check out our yoga class schedule to find the days and time slots that you can commit to. We can’t wait to help you build strength and physical fitness – along with the many other benefits of this glorious practice that we call YOGA.

Yoga for Weight Loss?

Yoga for Weight Loss: Does it Work?

Let’s break it down. Yoga is a form of physical and mental exercise. Increasing your physical and mental exercise will benefit you on several levels. If the goal is weight loss, then picking a yoga style that is challenging, powerful, and gets your heart rate up is the way to go. The more vigorous the yoga practice, the more you will sweat and increase your caloric burn.

Cardio, cardio, cardio

We know cardio is the way to a slimmer self and we know toning the muscles is the way to a flatter belly and a toned body. This is what makes yoga a wonderful complement to any weight loss program. Vinyasa classes or momentum style classes will give you a cardio kick by getting you moving. Traditional yoga classes where you hold poses will help with added strength and endurance. Finding a yoga class that incorporates holding poses and momentum will help you shed a few pounds. At  Yoga Fever, we offer this style of yoga with dynamic/flowing postures and holding/static poses.

We can actually make our yoga class as easy or as hard as we want. We have the control to activate all of the muscle groups by “hugging in” or hugging the muscle to the bone. This creates an activation of the muscular energy of the body. If we want to make it easier on ourselves, we can choose to not hug in and take a more relaxed version of the pose. It’s that simple.

Can I lose more weight with hot yoga?

Hot yoga not only promotes weight loss but it helps to sculpt your body. The heat guarantees your body will sweat and work harder than in a traditional yoga studio. You will shed a lot of superficial water weight right away by sweating like a fiend in hot yoga. Hot yoga boosts your metabolism and promotes overall cleansing by flushing out your lymphatic system.

Overall wellness plays a role in weight loss

There are many different types of yoga practice that will help you gain more awareness of your body, your food choices, and acceptance of yourself just as you are. The more mental clarity and positive energy we gain from a regular yoga practice the higher our quality of life. Ultimately, yoga will change your life not just on a physical level, but on a physiological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual level.

Moral of the story: DO YOGA. FEEL GOOD, DO BETTER.