When I finished my strenuous athletic career, I was injured and in pain. My normal workout regimen of high-intensity, high-impact exercise was no longer an option. My health quickly started to diminish and, before I knew it, I was 40 pounds overweight. I needed to change my approach to fitness.
Then, I started yoga. Within the first three months, my body completely transformed. Not only did I feel free from pain, but I also lost the 40 pounds I had put on. I was surprised how a few basic poses helped me burn fat quickly and strengthen my body.
Yoga is much more than just becoming flexible; it demands strength. It also helps create a healthy mind and overall ease. And, as I experienced, it can help you burn fat fast and feel light. Focus on these poses if that’s your goal:
1. Sun Salutations
How to do it: This exercise is a series of movements. Start standing at the top of your mat with your feet forward and hips-width apart. Inhale and reach your arms overhead. As you exhale, slowly bow and touch the floor, bending your knees as much as necessary.
Inhale, lift halfway up and bring your hands to your shins just below your knees. Lengthen your back, tilt your gaze slightly forward and set your shoulders back. As you exhale, place your hands on the floor, step back into a plank position and lower down into a pushup. Lower your hips to the floor and, as you inhale, pull your chest forward and up. Set your shoulders back.
Then, exhale, lift your hips up and back so that you’re in down dog pose. Hold down dog for three breaths. Then, as you exhale, bend your knees, look forward and step to the top of your mat. Inhale, lift halfway up again and as you exhale, bow forward and touch the floor. Inhale, stand up and reach your arms overhead. As you exhale, stand tall and bring your arms to your side. Repeat this cycle for 10 minutes.
[See: 7 Exercises Men Should Do Every Day.]
Why it works: Sun salutations are great to get a quick full-body workout. They demand overall stability, body awareness, balance and coordination. You also build strength by lowering yourself down into a pushup. Sun salutations also get your heart rate up.
2. Forearm Plank
How to do it: Start lying down on your belly. Prop yourself up on your forearms and set your elbows underneath your shoulders. Tuck your toes under and lift your hips and knees off the mat. Get long enough in your stance so that your entire body makes a flat, plank shape. Without moving your forearms or your feet, draw them toward one another until you feel your core fire. Take deep breaths in and out of your nose. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute.
Why it works: Holding a plank engages your abs, glutes, hamstrings and back. This helps build power, endurance and supports good posture.
3. Side Plank
How to do it: From plank, rotate onto your right hand and the right side of your foot. Stack your feet and engage your legs. Lift your hips and reach your left arm toward the ceiling. As you balance, stack your shoulders and look up. Hold the pose for one minute and repeat on the other side. Complete each side for three rounds.
Why it works: Side plank is another great pose to burn fat and get stronger since it targets many muscle groups. Not only do you engage your stomach muscles and obliques, you also use your arms and shoulders to hold the pose with good form.
How to do it: Stand with your feet hips-width apart and forward. Bend your knees deeply until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Point your knees in the same direction as your feet. Keep your weight heavy in your feet. Lengthen your back and reach your arms overhead. You can either move in and out of chair pose along with your breath (exhaling when you bend and inhaling when you straighten) or hold the pose for one minute and repeat it three times.
Why it works: This pose builds lower-body strength by engaging your legs and glutes. If you want to tone your butt and thighs, practice chair pose regularly.
How to do it: Start standing at the top of your mat. Bow forward and touch the floor. Shift weight into your right foot and step your left foot back. Adjust your stance so that your front knee is bent to a square over your ankle and your back foot is vertical. Lift your torso up and bring your hands to your hips. Square your hips and straighten your back leg. Keep your front knee bent completely and hold the pose for 30 seconds. Complete five rounds on both sides.
Why it works: Lunges develop strength in your quads, calves, glutes and hamstrings. They also help build stability and balance and maintain a healthy lower back.
How to do it: Sit down on the floor with your knees bent and feet planted firmly on the ground. Hold the backs of your thighs, lengthen your lower back and lift your chest. Lift your feet up off the ground while maintaining a lift in your back. Release your legs and stretch your arms out in front of you. Hold for a minute and repeat three times.
Why it works: Boat pose is another core-strengthening exercise since it requires you to use your stomach muscles to stay balanced while maintaining a lift in your back.