Sure, if you want to lose weight you need a diet that works for you (and eh hem, your lifestyle) and regular bouts of exercise. But that doesn’t mean you need to be going all-out every single day with sweat-dripping cardio or heavy weight-lifting to see results. Research shows that yoga can help in a weight-loss routine because it can boost flexibility, increase mental focus, and yes, burn fat. If you’re just getting started, try the “start with” moves to help you get in the groove. Once you feel comfortable with those, give yourself a challenge with the “make it harder” exercises. And don’t be surprised if you feel inclined to start showing off your new skills on Instagram soon—hey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it.
1. START WITH: CHAIR POSE
Start with feet slightly apart, inhale, and raise your arms straight overhead so your palms face in and your triceps are next to your ears. Exhale and bend your knees, pushing your butt back and lowering toward the floor as though sitting in a chair. Your torso will naturally lean slightly forward over the thighs; try to keep your shoulders down and back. Continue to take deep inhales and exhales; work your way up to holding the position for five breaths.
Works your: thighs, butt, abs, hips, arms
2. MAKE IT HARDER: CHAIR POSE WITH A TWIST
Hold chair pose, but rather than keeping arms straight overhead, lower them to chest level as you lower your legs. Then, bring your hands together as if they’re in prayer, and twist your upper body to the right so that your left elbow comes to rest gently on your right thigh. Keep abs tight, continue to take deep inhales and exhales; work your way up to holding the position for five breaths. Inhale and straighten your knees to return to start, then switch sides.
Works your: thighs, butt, abs, obliques, hips, shoulders, upper back
3. START WITH: DOWNWARD-FACING DOG
Start on the floor on your hands and knees, knees hip-width apart and hands directly under the shoulders. Spread your fingers wide and press your weight firmly across your hands and into the mat. Exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reaching your pelvis up toward the ceiling and pushing your butt to the wall behind you, slowly straighten your legs (without locking your knees). Push your chest back toward the wall behind you, relax your neck, and let your heels drop as close to the floor as they can get. Continue to take deep inhales and exhales; work your way up to holding for 5 or more breaths.
Works your: legs, arms, shoulders, upper back, abs
4. MAKE IT HARDER: DOWN-DOG SPLIT, KNEE-TO-NOSE
From downward-facing dog, inhale and lift your left leg as high as you can behind you while keeping your hips square. Exhale and slowly bring your left knee to your nose, drawing your belly in toward your spine. On your next inhale, lift your leg back up to down-dog split. Repeat 5 times, then switch sides and repeat.
Works your: legs, arms, shoulders, upper back, abs, butt
5. START WITH: WARRIOR I
Start in downward-facing dog, then step your right foot forward between your hands so that you are in a low runner’s lunge. Turn your left heel slightly outward (so the toes point to your other leg), drawing left hip forward and right hip back so they stay square. Engage your abs and lift up into a high lunge, while lifting arms up, palms facing or touching. Continue to take deep inhales and exhales; work your way up to holding for five breaths. Return to downward-facing dog; switch legs and repeat.
Works your: legs, hips, butt, arms, shoulders, chest, abs, back
6. MAKE IT HARDER: WARRIOR III
From Warrior I, keep your abs tight and lower chest toward your right knee (placing your weight in the right leg), and lift left leg to bring your body parallel with the ground. Extend your arms out in front, shoulders away from the ears, with palms facing or touching (you can also rest your hands on your hips). Look down and point the crown of your head forward and the heel of your foot back, as if you were pushing against a wall. Continue to take deep inhales and exhales; work your way up to holding for five breaths. Lower your left leg and return to Warrior I; switch legs and repeat. Pro tip: if you need help with balance, practice with a chair in front of you that you can lightly hold whenever you need.
Works your: ankles, legs, arms, shoulders, back, abs, hips
7. START WITH: SUPERMAN
Lie facedown with legs together, forehead resting on mat, arms out in front of you with palms down. Squeezing your abs and butt, lift arms and legs directly up, holding your upper and lower body off the ground (your weight should rest on your lower belly and pelvis). Continue to take deep inhales and exhales; work your way up to holding for 5 or more breaths.
Works your: back, chest, shoulders, arms, butt, hamstrings, abs
8. MAKE IT HARDER: BOW POSE
Lie facedown, forehead resting on mat, arms on the floor by your sides, palms up. Exhale and bend your knees, bringing heels as close to your butt as you can. Reach back and take hold of your ankles, keeping knees hip-width apart. Inhale and lift your chest and thighs off the floor, pushing heels away from your butt. Make sure to keep your lower back relaxed, pressing your shoulder blades down and back. Continue to take deep inhales and exhales; work your way up to holding for 5 or more breaths. Slowly lower and release your ankles to return to start.
Works your: back, chest, shoulders, arms, abs, legs, hips
9. START WITH: TABLETOP ARM-LEG LIFT
Start on the floor on your hands and knees, knees hip-width apart and hands directly under the shoulders. Engage your abs and, keeping a flat back, straighten your left leg and lift it behind you, squeezing your glutes. At the same time, extend your right arm straight in front of you. Continue to take deep inhales and exhales; work your way up to holding the position for 3 to 5 breaths.
Works your: abs, butt, upper back
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