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Beat Stress, Weigh Less: Calorie-Burning Yoga Workout

What do you get when you turn up the sculpting power and calorie burn of yoga classics? A superslimming workout that will transform your mind and body.

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Karen Pearson
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How the Workout Works

De-clutter your brain while totally trimming your abs, butt, and thighs -- these moves will slim you down and bliss you out. "You'll feel how much more toned you get with these twists, but all the zen of yoga is still there," says Kristin McGee, an instructor at YogaWorks in New York City who mixed this routine from a trio of new classes exclusively for FITNESS. Complete the circuit twice -- the first move of each pair is done at a fast tempo to rev calorie burn, the second is an allover sculptor. Pause in the starting pose of each sculptor for three deep breaths before your reps to get a steady dose of calm. Do the plan two or three times a week for your total mind-body makeover.

What you'll need: A yoga mat

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Kickstand Tap

Targets: Abs, butt, and legs

  • Start in chair pose: Stand with feet together and arms extended overhead with palms facing each other; sink into a squat. (As you hinge forward slightly from hips, arms reach diagonally upward.)
  • Maintaining squat throughout, lift left foot off mat and quickly extend leg behind you to tap mat, then immediately return to start. MAKE IT EASIER: Place hands on hips before starting taps.
  • Do 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

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High Heel

  • Start in chair pose: Stand with feet together and arms extended overhead with palms facing each other; sink into a squat.
  • Raise both heels off mat, lowering arms directly in front of you at shoulder level as you rise onto tiptoes. MAKE IT EASIER: Keep heels on mat so feet remain flat throughout.
  • Do 3 pulses, lowering butt 2 inches toward heels and rising again.
  • Lower heels and return to chair pose.
  • Do 10 reps.

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Side Slide

Targets; Chest, abs, hips, butt, and legs

  • Start in tree pose: Stand with palms pressing together in front of chest, and bend right knee out to side, placing sole of right foot on inner thigh of left leg.
  • Bend left knee to lower into a squat as you extend right leg out to side, sliding it out on floor, toes pointing forward. MAKE IT EASIER: Place hands on hips for better balance.
  • Immediately return to tree pose, tapping right sole on left inner thigh before quickly repeating move.
  • Do 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

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Hip Shaper

  • Start in tree pose: Stand with palms pressing together in front of chest, and bend left knee out to side, placing sole of left foot on inner thigh of right leg.
  • Maintaining contact of left foot on right thigh, bring left knee across body toward right, then extend left leg out to right.
  • Bend left knee again, and bring it out to left side to return to tree pose.
  • Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

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Warrior Windmill

Targets: Shoulders, abs, obliques, butt, and legs

  • Start in warrior II: Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms extended out to sides, palms down, then lunge with right leg out to right side, toes pointing right, knee over ankle and left leg straight. Turn head toward right hand.
  • Maintaining lunge position throughout, hinge at waist toward left as you bring left hand toward mat by outside of left ankle and bring right arm overhead.
  • With feet planted, quickly reverse direction, hinging toward right as you arc right arm toward mat behind right thigh and bring left arm up toward ceiling to complete 1 rep.
  • Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

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Sumo Warrior

Targets: Shoulders, abs, butt, quads, and calves

  • Start in warrior II: Stand with feet hip-width apart, arms extended out to sides, palms down, then lunge with left leg out to left side, toes pointing left, knee over ankle and right leg straight. Turn head to left.
  • Pivot on heels so that toes of both feet are turned out slightly, look forward, and sink into a wide squat.
  • Lift both heels off mat and do 3 pulses, lowering butt 2 inches toward heels and rising again. MAKE IT EASIER: Lift only one heel, or keep both heels on mat.
  • Pivot feet to return to warrior II, this time facing right: Point right toes toward right and left toes forward, leaning body weight over bent right leg and straightening left leg as you look right. That's 1 rep.
  • Do 6 reps.

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Cha-Cha-Cha

Target: Abs

  • Start in plank position: Balance on mat on forearms and toes, maintaining a straight line from head to heels.
  • Quickly alternate bringing left knee, then right knee, to touch mat.
  • Continue alternating for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

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Pendulum Plank

Targets: Abs and butt

  • Start in plank position: Balance on mat on forearms and toes, maintaining a straight line from head to heels.
  • Lift left foot a few inches off mat and bring it 45 degrees out to left side, hold for 1 count, then return it to start position. MAKE IT EASIER: Step with left foot onto floor briefly when you bring it out to side.
  • Repeat move with right leg to complete 1 rep.
  • Do 10 reps.

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Running Dog

Targets: Arms, abs, butt, and hamstrings

  • Start in downward dog: Get on all fours on mat, then tuck toes under and press hips back and up toward ceiling as you step feet back a few steps to form an inverted V, balancing on palms and feet. (Try to keep heels on floor or as close to touching floor as possible.)
  • Maintaining V position, quickly bring left knee in toward chest, then press left heel back to extend left leg directly in the air behind you. Immediately bring knee in again.
  • Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

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Scorpion Press

Targets: Arms, abs, butt, and legs

  • Start in downward dog: Get on all fours on floor, then tuck toes under and press hips back and up toward ceiling as you step feet back a few steps to form an inverted V, balancing on palms and feet. (Try to keep heels on floor or as close to touching floor as possible.)
  • Maintaining V position, lift right foot off mat, bend right knee 90 degrees, and raise leg so that right thigh is in line with back.
  • Keeping bent right leg in air throughout, bend left leg 90 degrees to lower knee toward mat, then straighten it again.
  • Do 10 reps. Switch legs; repeat.

Fire-it-up tip: To sizzle more fat anytime you hit the mat, try this combo from the YogaWorks Body Slim class: Perform sun salutations at a fast clip for 2 minutes, then do your fave poses for the next 4. Repeat for a workout that burns 300 calories per hour.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November/December 2009.

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