OK, so it’a a little early to be thinking about frolicking in the surf wearing that sexy two-piece, at least for us poor souls on the inhospitable East Coast. Yet I was just at the mall and could hardly make it over to the yoga clothes for all the bikinis. It’s a reminder that we have a few weeks left before we’ll be wanting to show more skin as the season turns warmer. And for many of us, the thought of revealing what we’ve done over the winter months (i.e., adding that necessary fat layer for warmth) doesn’t seem so useful or easy to hide now.
Here’s a yoga practice that can make big changes in just a few weeks. It targets your body’s large muscle groups to raise your metabolism and burn fat more quickly, as well as tone up those fun lady spots (guys—you have your own and this will get ‘em, too) like the belly, rear end, upper arms and thighs.
Couple a fresh, healthy diet with three or four vigorous yoga sessions a week, including this sequence, and you’ll be busting out that teeny weeny bikini—not busting out of it—just in time for summer. Detailed instruction below!
KNEELING CORE PLANK
Tones: Rear, Upper Thighs, Love Handles.
Come onto hands and knees. Spread your fingers wide and point the middle fingers forward so wrists creases parallel the front of the mat. Firm all ten fingertips down, and begin to lift the right leg on the inhale, and exhale, round knee to chest. Keep your lifted leg active through the heel, and squared with the hips to point toes towards the floor.
Repeat 5-20 times on this side, then switch to the left leg. Rest in Child’s Pose in-between and/or after both sides.
Tones: Entire lower body
Move into a squat, with feet close, but not touching. turn the toes slightly out, and lift your heels. Place fingertips on the floor, and inhale as you look up with an open heart. On the exhales, straighten your legs as much as you can, and bow forward, heels still lifted. You can move through repetitions as slowly or quickly as you’d like, but keep your eyes closed or gaze at one point to avoid dizziness.
Do 10-20 rounds of Frog Pose, then rest in Squat or Child’s Pose for a few breaths.
Tones: Entire body, amps up cardio, burns calories
From your resting pose, roll slowly to stand. Put on your favorite song or dance to your own rhythm for 5 minutes. If “yoga” means “union” with your best, most passionate self, then free your movements more than you ever have and let out your inner Soul Train!
Tones: Abdoninals, inner thighs
Come to sit. Place your fingertips behind you, fingers facing back towards your hips, or reach your arms inside the knees, palms pressing. Lift your feet and press the big toe mounds together, knees wide. Inhale, lengthen your legs, a little, or a lot. Exhale, widen the knees and pull them back towards the outer ribs from the strength of your navel power. Maintain a low back curve and open heart.
Repeat 5-15 pulses, then fold forward over your Goddess legs on the floor for a counter-stretch.
BELLY DANCE BRIDGE
Tones: Glutes, upper thighs, waist, abs, shoulders and arms.
Come onto your back, knees bent, feet under the knees, as in a regular Bridge. Plant your hands strongly, palms facing down, beside your hips, Life the hips, and raise your toes and balls of the feet so you’re balancing on the heels only. Begin to undulate your hips around in circles, figure eights, wave your spine up and down on the mat, or create your own movements. This will free your lower back as you strengthen and tone.
Do Belly Dancing Bridge for 1-3 minutes, then bring knees into your chest, hand onto your knees, and make circles with the knees to release the lower back. End with a final rest on your back for 1-5 minutes more to fully set the practice into your body.