Calorie-Blasting Yoga Moves

Yoga Positions for a Great At-Home Workout

Yoga is arguably one of the most relaxing, centering workouts you can do. Normally conducted in a quiet, peaceful location, finding your inner yogi can leave you feeling relaxed and calmly in charge of your wellbeing. But did you know that while you’re stretching, posing and deep breathing, you’re actually torching calories, too? It’s true: Hitting the treadmill isn’t the only answer to killing calories.

“Yoga postures are considered ‘static contractions,’ meaning you are holding still in the muscle contraction,” explains Briar Munro, personal trainer and holistic lifestyle coach. “Because the muscles are working continuously you will be burning calories regardless of which posture you are doing.”

Registered Dietitian Jacqueline Aizen, a regular practitioner of yoga, recommends following a strong Vinyasa flow, where the transitions between yoga poses are done in a more rapid manner than other forms. Apply the quick-change Vinyasa method to these expert-recommended yoga moves to amp up your calorie burn and leave you feeling utterly energized throughout your day. After you've completed the circuit of moves below, try doing it once or twice again.

Chair Pose
Yoga Chair Pose
With the chair pose you’re improving your posture and strengthening your thighs, glutes and back while mimicking, well, sitting in a chair. Begin standing up straight, stomach in, feet together, arms at your sides. With your weight focused on your heels, bend your knees, concentrating on squeezing your inner thighs and keeping your core tight. Raise your arms over your head, keeping them straight with your fingers up. Ease lower into the position, focusing on trying to get your thighs parallel with the floor. Maintain the position for 10 breaths.


Push-Up Plank
push up planks
Not only are planks great for your core, but they also strengthen your arms and back. Begin with a typical push-up position on your mat. Align your body so your shoulders are over your wrists. From your neck down, keep your spine aligned while pushing back on your heels to maintain the position. You can either support your body with your palms on the mat under your shoulders, or bend your arms and have your elbows and forearms against the mat to support you (aligned under your shoulders, as pictured). Try holding this position for at least 30 seconds, and work your way up to a minute. Remember to breathe deeply. Once you master this pose, you can challenge yourself by slightly lifting your legs up one at a time while in the position.


Side Plank
side plank
After you’ve completed the push-up plank, transition into the side plank pose to strengthen your arms and balance. Open your body up to the side by shifting your weight to one arm while rotating out your legs so your weight is on the foot of the same side. Keep your feet flexed, with the free foot touching the foot holding your balance tothe mat. Bring your free arm up, reaching to the ceiling and shift your head up so your eyes follow the imaginary line your arm is creating toward the ceiling. Hold for 10 breaths then repeat on the opposite side.


Warrior II
warrior II pose
The Warrior II pose is all about a strong, fierce-looking alignment. Placing your feet parallel on leg length apart. Slowly turn one footout at a 90-degree angle. Turn your opposite foot inward. Your objective here is to align the heel of the outward foot with the arch of the inward foot. Slowly bend the knee of the outward leg until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Make sure your knee is above your heel and that your core is aligned with your pelvis. Straighten your arms out strongly on either side of your body so that you are creating a parallel line between your arms and the floor. Turn your head toward the side of your bent knee, keeping your head up and eyes focused ahead. Hold the pose for 10 breaths. Repeat with other side.


Peaceful Warrior (or Reverse Warrior)
peaceful warrior pose
The peaceful warrior pose takes the Warrior II pose into a deeper stretch to strengthen your legs and flexibility. Begin in the Warrior II position. Bring your back arm down to the calf of your elongated back leg. Reach your front arm back so that it is aligned with your ear. Focus your attention on tightening your core as you bend your spine into a deeper stretch down your back leg. Bring your face up toward the ceiling. Hold the pose for five breaths then repeat on the opposite side.


Yoga Plus
The best way to get the most from your new yoga routine is to mix it into your normal weekly workout schedule.

“Do yoga one day, a body weight resistance day with a mix of push-ups, squats, planks, jumping jacks, et cetera on the next day, a Pilates workout, go for a walk,” Munro recommends. “There are so many options and the more you change up your workout the more results you will see, so add variety!”

If you’re a beginner yogi, don’t be intimidated. Aizen recommends trying out a few different classes and styles to see which fits you best. And remember, just as she says, “If you can breathe, you can do yoga!”

References: Ann Pizer for yoga.about.com;womenshealthmag.com/fitness/yoga-for-weight-loss;womenshealthmag.com/yoga/chair-pose
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