Spring is just around the corner, which means warm weather short and flirty skirts are soon to follow. Tis the season to tone up your lower half, but before you head to the weight room or lace up your sneakers for a spin session, why not unroll your yoga mat instead? Yoga is a great way to achieve mental balance and well-being, but your muscles are in for a workout as well. Depending on the type of yoga you do, you can tone your entire body–legs included–all with bodyweight postures that increase strength and flexibility at the same time. Try these stem-strengthening poses to see for yourself:
Chair Pose: We often sing the praises of doing squats, and since this posture is part of the squat, it’s tops for strengthening your bottom half.
To Do: Stand tall with your feet together and your arms by your side. Sweep your arms up and overhead as you sink your butt back and down as if sitting into a chair. Your arms should be slightly angled forward, with your shoulders relaxed. If this is too intense, lower your hands with your palms together (as if praying) in front of your heart. Keep a curve in your lower lumbar, while also keeping your hips tucked. To intensify this posture, place a yoga block between your knees and squeeze. Hold this posture for five deep inhales and exhales.
Goddess Pose: Women are super strong beings, which is celebrated (and tested!) in this fierce lower body pose.
To Do: While standing with hands on hips, step your feet apart about four feet and turn your toes out to face the corners of the mat. With a straight back, sink your hips toward the floor, working toward getting your thighs to be parallel with the floor. On an exhale, raise your arms open to the sides at 90-degrees (as if making the shape of a goal post). With each inhale tighten your core and supporting muscles, and with each exhale, release deeper into the posture. Hold here for seven breaths.
Crescent Lunge: Lunges are a great lower body exercise, and this pose focuses on holding the most intense part, making for a real muscle builder–and burner!
To Do: Start in a low lunge, similar to a runner at a starting line. Your front knee should be above the foot. Your back knee should be on the ground. Tuck your back toes under and use your lower body muscles to lift the knee off the ground. Your hands can stay on your hips, to help you find and maintain balance. Once you feel centered, extend your hands up toward the ceiling, while keeping your shoulders relaxed. Focus on lengthening your back leg toward wall behind you, while at the same time squeezing your inner thighs together to keep your balance. Hold for up to ten breaths before releasing and switching sides.
Locust Pose: Get off your feet for this great backside toning pose.
To Do: Lie on your belly with your arms at your sides. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and on the exhale, raise your chest and lower body off the ground. Lift your arms off the floor at the same time, focusing on reaching your hands back toward your feet. For more intensity, extend the arms forward. Hold this pose for four breaths before lowering back down to the ground. Repeat a second round.
What is your favorite yoga pose? Share with others in the comments!