Beginner yoga poses may look easy at first glance, but after holding your body still and feeling your muscles burn, you'll realize these poses are the ticket to rocking your swimsuit. Here are seven beginner yoga poses to strengthen and tone your bikini body.
Inversions already work your core, since the ab and back muscles are what help to hold the lower body steady and balanced. To work your core even more, here's a strength-training yoga move that will tone your entire torso as well as your upper body — you just might give up traditional crunches forever!
- Begin on your hands and knees. Lower your elbows to the floor and interlace your fingers, bringing your lowest pinkie in front of the other pinkie, forming a semicircle with your hands.
- Place the back of your head against your palms, and the top of your head on the mat, so your skull is vertical with the floor. Once your head and forearms feel stable, straighten both legs and walk you feet toward your face as far as you can.
- Shift your hips over your shoulders, and keep your elbows planted firmly on the mat. Lift both legs into the air, coming into Bound Headstand.
- Stay in Headstand for five breaths, relaxing the jaw as well as the shoulders away from the ears. Take a breath in, and as you exhale, slowly lower both feet toward the mat so they are parallel with the floor. Hold here for another five breaths.
- Inhale and then exhale to raise the legs back up into Headstand. Repeat four more times.
Up for a bigger challenge? See an advanced variation after the break!
For 9-to-5ers, taking a yoga class after work can result in eating a late dinner. If you're eating closer to bedtime, then cut back on heavy meat and dairy to help ease digestion, and prep meals in advance to make the process of cooking a quick one. With some advice from a few Ayurveda and nutrition experts, here are five ideas for quick and healthy suppers to make after yoga.
A homemade soup is often as easy as throwing ingredients together into a pot. Cook broth in advance to always have the makings of a soup ready to go, but if you're crunched for time, then use a low-sodium, store-bought version. This recipe for ginger-carrot soup is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese, which aids in digestion, plus it offers hydration after a sweaty yoga session!
Replacing a meat-heavy sandwich with a lighter veggie wrap can be easier on the digestive system to help prevent you from feeling weighed down after yoga. These vegan spiral wraps from Happy Healthy Life offer vibrant color, creamy hummus, and serious veggie power.
Keep reading for two more late-night dinner ideas.
Yoga may be blissful, but it isn't cheap! Depending on where you live, classes can run you an average of $15 to $20 a pop. Dropping $50 or more for yoga classes each week isn't an option for everyone, but we can all benefit from a regular practice. The Internet is bursting with free full-length classes or shortened yoga routines. If you're willing to pay a little, then you'll be able to view a greater variety of videos. Here are some sites to check out.
- Yoga Today: This site offers one free class each week, and if you're itching for more, download other classes for $4 each. You can choose ones geared toward your ability level, or choose by instructors you like. If you're really into it, pay $90 for a yearly membership, which includes unlimited classes. Store them on your computer, and follow along anywhere you happen to be.
- Yoga Journal: For beginners and advanced yogis, these videos, ranging in length from five to 35 minutes, are the high quality you'd expect from Yoga Journal. Some of my faves include the hip-opening sequence Bird by Bird and Heart Wide Open, full of chest openers.
- My Yoga Online: These videos may not be free, but they're dirt cheap. Pay $10 per month or $90 for a year for unlimited access to the entire library of videos for yoga, Pilates, dance, martial arts fusion, meditation, and workplace wellness. The site also offers samples of popular yoga DVDs such as Shiva Rea's Surf Yoga Soul and David Life's Transform Yourself With Jivamukti. Another plus: you can sample a clip before you buy.
Keep reading for more websites that offer inexpensive yoga classes.
Yoga may be an ancient practice, but it feels like we're constantly hearing a new celebrity boasting about its impact. If you still haven't tried out a yoga class, maybe seeing how these beautiful celebrities keep their youthful glow from the practice will be the push you need. From Ellen DeGeneres to Gwyneth Paltrow, these celebrities have all praised the benefits of a solid, consistent yoga practice.
Expert teacher Shiva Rea is a pioneer in the yoga community, so it's no surprise that she's a fixture at the four-day yoga and music Wanderlust Festival, happening at various locations across North America.
While the yoga life is a good one, Shiva recognizes that not everyone has the opportunity to practice yoga for hours every day. When we asked her for the number one pose for 9-to-5ers who sit at a desk, her response was the "all-around asana" Downward Facing Dog, since it's "an inversion, backbend, and forward bend" all rolled into one.
For people who can't drop to the floor and enjoy yoga freely at the office, Shiva offers a desk-approved version of Downward Dog. Keep reading to learn the variation that will help you release tension at work.
This series of yoga poses was designed with your bikini, strapless dress, and short skirt in mind. Aimed to tone the thighs, tush, and core, as well as the upper body, doing this sequence daily will help diminish love handles, saddlebags, and that lovely arm flab that jiggles when you wave. This total-body toning sequence will have you feeling long and strong, just in time for baring your bod this Summer.
While refreshing your yoga routine may mean trying out a new class, it can also translate to sprucing up your Spring gear. If you've already got more cropped pants and built-in-bra tops than you know what to do with, maybe it's time to give your mat a new home. You'll love these picks of yoga bags at every price range that are both functional and fashionable. Time to click through and spring forward into all the yoga goodness.
When you're at work, leaving the office for some fresh air can change your day. But if you're swamped with work and tied to your desk, this isn't always a viable option. Even if you can't leave, you can still treat your body to a quick stretching session. Watch this video for three moves that will relieve stress in your shoulders, neck, back, and wrists in less than a minute.
Turn off your music and tune in to a quality podcast. Whether you're an experienced yogi looking for a led flow class or you just want to listen to experts talk all things yoga, you'll find a new favorite in one of these podcasts.
Yoga and Other Useful Stuff With Tara Stiles
Yogi extraordinare Tara Stiles has a video podcast series that covers everything from living your best yoga life to weight loss. It's appropriately named Yoga and Other Useful Stuff With Tara Stiles, and we love listening to her perspective.
The CorePower Yoga podcasts offer a mix of information in their various shows. Asana of the Month offers a short video demonstrating yoga poses, while Ask a Yogi answers questions beginners might be afraid.
The Kripalu Center For Yoga and Health, a retreat center for yoga and holistic living in western Massachusetts, hosts an enlightened podcast called Kripalu Perspectives. If you want to listen to a traditional podcast format where experts are interviewed, then try Kripalu. You won't be disappointed.
Keep reading for two more yoga podcasts.