Yoga is known for relieving stress but did you know research has shown it also helps slim you down? A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found a strong link between yoga practice and weight maintenance, and researchers attribute it to “mindful” eating. It showed yoga lowers levels of stress hormones and increases insulin sensitivity-a signal that informs your body to burn food instead of storing it as fat. One of the examples is being able to turn down unhealthy foods regardless of temptations. It also showed those who practice yoga consistently learn to stay calm when faced with stress and discomforts. The study found these results were unique to those who practiced yoga and not other activities such as walking or running.
The yoga poses below will help firm your muscles and increase flexibility. They will also help you achieve lower levels of stress and will increase your insulin sensitivity while building tolerance and self control.
BEFORE YOU START
Gear: A yoga mat or carpeted space.
How to See Results: Follow this routine at least 3 times a week, holding each move 1 time for 5 deep breaths. If you are feeling strong, hold each pose for up to 8 breaths and repeat two to three times. When you finish make sure you drink plenty of water.
Have Fun With It: Light your favorite candle and play calming music in the background
Action: Standing with feet together, toes forward, and arms at sides. Inhale and raise arms overhead, reaching fingertips toward ceiling. Exhale, and bend forward from hips, bringing hands to floor, bending your knee if you need to. Inhale, and as you exhale, step right leg back into a lunge (left knee bent about 90 degrees, knee over ankle; right leg extended and on ball of foot). Inhale and raise arms overhead; gaze forward. Hold, then return to standing and repeat, stepping left leg back.
Downward Dog: Firms shoulders
Action: Come down on all fours. Spread your fingers wide on your mat. Tuck your toes, lift your hips up and back, and extend your legs. Press your shoulders toward the floor and relax your neck. Press your palms against the floor. Walk your feet back, pull up through your hips, and press your heels down.
Make it more challenging: Downward Dog Split
Action: From down dog, raise your right leg behind you, foot flexed. Keep your hips even with the floor. Reach the back of your leg straight up.
Willow: Firms Obliques
Action: Stand with feet together, arms at sides. Place sole of left foot on inside of right thigh, knee bent to side. Touch palms in front of chest for 2 breaths. On third inhale, extend arms up, fingertips toward ceiling. Exhale, and on the inhale, bend torso to left. Inhale and straighten. Switch sides.
Chair: Firms gluteus and thighs
Stand with feet together, toes forward, arms at sides. Inhale and raise arms overhead, palms facing each other. Exhale and sit back about 45 degrees, keeping knees behind toes and abs tight to support back; gaze forward.
Plank: Firms core muscles
Get on your hands and knees. Tuck your toes under and straighten your legs so you’re in a horizontal line. Bring your shoulder blades together, extend forward through the top of your head, and reach back through your heels. Hold for 60 seconds making sure you are taking deep breaths and your butt isn’t sticking up in the air.