7 Yoga Poses to Tone the Body

Are you looking for more of a workout when you get on your mat? It may be to build a bit more strength. It might be to tone the body. Or perhaps it's to advance your asana practice.

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Are you looking for more of a workout when you get on your mat? It may be to build a bit more strength. It might be to tone the body. Or perhaps it's to advance your asana practice.

Give these 7 poses and mini flows a try to work the full body. Let me know how you feel afterwards.

Have 2 blocks at the ready.

1. Seated -  Start seated with feet flat on the floor and knees bent. Grab hold of one of your blocks, extending the arms in front of you. Have the hands at shoulder height. As you inhale, lift the block up over head and push the chest forward. As you exhale, draw the belly in and reach the arms forward. Simultaneously, recline back about half way towards the mat. Think as if you are coming in to boat pose, with the feet down. Keep the spine from rounding. Inhale to lift back up. Repeat a few rounds. Then add in a twist. As you lower, bring the block over to the right. Repeat, alternating sides for a few rounds.

2. Side Plank - Come to table top, with blocks underneath the palms and thumbs on the inside. Shoulders over wrists, knees under hips. Take a few rounds of cat/cow. Inhale, drop the belly while lifting the gaze and tailbone. Exhale, rounding and contracting the spine. Return to neutral. Extend the left foot back behind you, rolling on to the inner edge. Push in to the right palm and reach the left hand towards the sky. This is your modified side plank. From here you might, squeeze in to the glute and lift the left foot off of the mat. Flex the foot, kicking the heel away. To take further still, you can find a bind. To do so, bend the left knee and catch hold of the foot with the left hand. Push the foot in to the hand to open up further. Keep the knee and ankle at hip height, kicking back behind you. Release foot, roll to table top, tuck the toes and then lift up to downward facing dog.

3. Standing - Walk the feet up to the top of the mat coming to a ragdoll forward fold. Clasp hold of opposite elbows. Let the head be heavy, releasing tension from the neck. Bring the big toes together and the heels apart slightly. From here, bend your knees, sink the hips down, reach the hands forward and up in chair pose. After a few breaths, clasp the fingers together behind you. Roll the shoulders down and open the chest. Begin to straighten the legs as you fold forward. Keeping the knees bent if your hamstrings are tight. Lift the knuckles up and over. Release the hands down on to the blocks. Bend your knees and shift weight in to the right foot. Pick up the left toes. kicking them back in a flamingo stance. Test your balance, lifting the hands up to the heart. Step the lifted foot back, lower the left palm to a block, and reach the right arm up in an easy twist.

Take a vinyasa on the blocks. Then repeat 2 and 3 on the other side.

4. Flow - Moving the blocks to the top corners of the mat, return to downward dog with the palms flat on the mat. Float the right leg up to the sky. Exhale, rippling forward in to plank. Drawing the knee in to the nose. Inhale it back. Repeat a few times. On the final round, step the foot through between the hands. Spin the back heel down, so the foot is parallel towards the shorter edge of the mat. Bend in to the right knee, squeezing it open over the second and third toe. Reach the arms front to back in warrior 2. Take in to extended side angle. Bringing the right forearm to the thigh, and the left arm up and over. To deepen, the right hand might come down to a block or the floor. Bring your left hand to the hip. Look down at the mat, dropping your right hand to a block if not already there. Kick your left foot up, stacking the left hip over the right. Start to roll your left shoulder back. Maybe reach the left arm up. Or add a bind in by bending the left knee and clasping the foot with the lifted hand.

Take a flow and repeat on the other leg.

5. Camel - Come down to tall kneeling. Grab 1 of your blocks and place it in between the thighs. Squeeze on to it. Keep your hips up over the knees. Lengthen the tailbone down. Keep strength in your core. Bring the hands to support your low back, with the fingers pointing down. Squeeze your shoulder blades back behind you. Lift the chest up, and start to tilt back while pushing the hips forward. Stay with the hands on the back, or reach down for the feet. After the desired hold, lift back up and sink the hips to the heels. Counter the back bend with some twists, taking thread the needle on both sides. From table top, thread the right arm under and lower down on the right ear and shoulder, keeping hips over knees.

6. Locust - Place the block between the thighs, then lower down on to the belly. Squeezing the block will help you to engage the adductor muscles and protect your low back. Extend the arms back at your sides. As you inhale, lift the chest, hands and feet from the mat. Grounding the pelvis. Roll the shoulders back. Lower down on an exhale. Push back to table top and take a puppy pose to counter. Walk the hands forward, lower forehead to the mat, and melt the chest down.


7. Cool Down - Sit on the mat, extending the legs out in front of you. Bend your right knee, bringing the right foot inside the right thigh or stepping it over. Hug the leg in with your left arm. Set the right hand down behind you. Exhaling, twist towards the right and take the gaze back behind you. Trying to close the gap between your thigh and belly. Turn to the front. Cross the right leg over the left, trying to stack the knees one over the other. Then fold forward. Lifting back up, add a bend to the left knee to come to cow face pose. Add some eagle arms here, crossing the right elbow under the left and the hands back to back or palm to palm. You may opt to fold forward again.

Repeat on the other side.

Looking for the full 30 minute practice. Flow along with me in the video below.



Namaste,
Kassandra


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