Check your calendars, gals! Summer’s here and we all know what that means: swimsuits, hiking, biking, jogging, swimsuits, soccer, tennis and did we mention swimsuits? Check out these simple, yoga-based toning exercises that’ll help you feel great and look fit.
Crescent Lunge Walk
Calves, Thighs, Buttocks
Lunges are known to be the best leg toning exercises around. If you’re looking for shapely legs, try not to cut the corners on this one! In fact, using this exercise year-round is a good idea.
This is a fairly simple exercise, but having good form is crucial. Step forward with the right foot into a deep lunge. Make sure the right knee is bent to a 90° angle and is directly over the right ankle. Keep the torso upright and, from this position step forward with the left foot into a deep lunge. Follow through with the right leg, left leg, right and you’ll be lunge walking!
Modification for space conservation: Instead of walking in lunges, simply stay in place and
alternate lunges on each side.
If you have access to a basketball court or playground, try to lunge walk all the way across. About two to three times across the court/playground will keep those legs in shape! If you’re in your room, or have limited space, try doing three set of ten on each leg.
If you’re looking to boost your workout, try incorporating five minutes of cardiovascular exercise in between each toning maneuver, this can be jumping rope or marching/jogging in place. By the end of the workout you should have totaled about fifteen minutes of cardiovascular exercise.
Thighs, Buttocks, Lower Back, Abs
This is a great leg, back and buttocks strengthening exercise that increases muscle mass and stamina.
Imagine you’re standing with your back against a wall. In fact, if you like, use a wall as a prop to execute this exercise. Gently slide yourself down until you’re sitting in an imaginary chair. Be sure to keep the heels in contact with the ground, the knees over the feet (your knees should be as close to a 90° angle as possible), and your shoulders against the wall. Once you’ve reached the chair position, maintain it for about fifteen to twenty seconds (you can build onto the time the more you do this exercise). After the fifteen to twenty seconds, guide yourself back up to a standing position.
Modification: Instead of holding this maneuver, try this: once you’ve reached the “bottom” of your “chair,” slowly guide yourself back up. Try to take equal amounts of time for both the descent and ascent.
About three sets of ten to twelve repetitions will work those legs, buns and lower back.
Bicycle crunches are an excellent exercise to work the entire abdominal group.
First, find yourself a carpeted area or grab a workout mat. Begin by lying in a supine position (face up). Bring the legs up in a table-top position (the knees and hips should both be bent to 90°). Have your fingertips lightly touching the back of the head and your elbows directly out to the side. Try and keep a space between the chin and the chest. Lead the right elbow toward the left knee as the right leg extends straight outward. The elbow and knee do not have to touch.
Proceed to the other side. You should feel like you’re pedaling a bicycle.
Modification: Keep in mind that legs are tremendous levers. This means if you straighten out the extended leg in this exercise, you’re working harder. You can alter your lever length by extending the leg up instead of out. Give it a try!
Shoot for three sets of fifteen repetitions. Remember, you can build the amount as you become more familiar with the exercise.
Arms, Abs, Lower Back
Chataranga (Chata-what!?!), known as “crocodile” in English, is performed most often during vinyasa flow yoga classes. Essentially, it’s a tight push-up. Don’t be afraid! This is an excellent maneuver to tone the muscles of the arms.
Start in the prone position (face down) on either a carpeted floor or workout mat. Bring the hands in almost directly underneath the shoulders. Imagine your elbows are glued to your side and tuck your toes under. Keep the body in a straight line and push up into a plank position (elbows extended, back straight). Remember to breathe! Inhale as you come up and exhale as you come down.
Modification: Bring the knees down to make the exercise less difficult. Remember that the elbows are glued to the side, and maintain the body in a straight line. Perform the exercise as indicated above.
It’s a challenging move! If you’re tackling the full version of this pose, try for three sets of five repetitions. For the modification, bump it up to three sets of eight repetitions.