You love the head-to-toe, feel-good impact of yoga. You’re more flexible, less prone to injury and more relaxed. But it’s still OK to admit you want a yoga butt. These poses and variations on familiar postures strengthen and tone your tush.
Typically cat and cow warms up and strengthens your spine. This variation fires up the glutes.
The move: Take a few breaths in cat/cow to warm up your spine. Find a neutral spine and, as you inhale, extend your right arm and left leg in opposite directions. Exhale, return the hand and knee to the ground. Repeat 3–5 times then hold extended cat/cow with the right arm and left leg lifted. On an exhale, extend your leg as far to the left as possible, keeping it in line with the hip. Inhale and draw the leg back to center. Repeat 3–5 times, rest in child’s pose and switch sides.
Sink back into an imaginary chair for this isometric contraction that works your thighs and glutes.
The move: Stand at the top of your mat. On an inhale, sweep your arms overhead. On an exhale, bend your knees and sink your hips back as if you were about to sit in a chair behind you. Try and sit low enough that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Engage your abdominals by pulling your low belly in.
Lengthen through your torso and relax your shoulders. If your shoulders are tight and inch toward your ears, widen your arms or take cactus arms, bending both elbows and turning your palms out. Relax your shoulders and broaden your chest.
Breathe here for up to a minute and, on an inhale, straighten your legs and return to standing.
Squats can be a great way to tone your lower body, and goddess, also known as victory squat, is no different. The pose strengthens the glutes and thighs, works the core and stretches the hips and groin.
The move: Turn to face the long edge of your mat with your feet 3–4 feet apart. Turn your heels in and your toes out so that your feet are at a 45-degree angle. On an exhale, bend your knees deeply and sink your hips until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Keep your knees over your ankles. Bring your arms out to your sides at shoulder height, bend your elbows and turn your palms out to create a goalpost shape.
Keep your spine long, and avoid hunching your shoulders forward. Engage your core. Hold here for 5–10 breaths for an isometric contraction or add one of these variations:
- Stay low and pulse your knees back, giving your glutes an extra squeeze.
- Add calf raises. Staying low in goddess, lift and lower your heels for 5–10 reps.
- Add a twist. On an exhale, take your right arm to the inside of your right calf. Inhale back to center and exhale, twist to the left. Hold each twist for 3–5 breaths or flow between the two.
Half moon offers a little something for everyone. It builds strength in the legs and firms the glutes. It stretches the hamstrings, inner thighs and groin. It opens the chest and shoulders. And as a balance posture, it challenges our focus.
The move: Standing at the top of your mat, take a big step back with your left foot. Keep your right toes facing the front of your mat and angle the left toes in slightly. Lift the right arm to shoulder height, palms down and finger facing the same direction as your right toes. Bring your left hand to the left hip.
Shift the weight onto your right foot, bend your right knee, let the left leg lift behind you, and bring your right hand to a block or the floor about six inches in front of your right foot. Your right hand should be directly under your right shoulder. The chest and hips face the long edge of your mat and your left leg is engaged, with the foot flexed and heel in line with your butt and shoulders.
To deepen the pose, extend the left arm to the sky and take your gaze to your left fingers. To make the pose more accessible, practice with your back against the wall to keep yourself steady.
Hold the pose for 5 breaths, slowly lower the left leg on an exhale, and repeat on the other side.
READ MORE FIVE-POSE YOGA FIXES
This mild inversion and rejuvenating backbend, opens the chest, strengthens the back and hamstrings and reduces stress and fatigue. It’s also considered a safe, therapeutic inversion for those with high blood pressure.
The move: Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor with the ankles under the knees. Your feet should be hip-width apart and parallel so that all 10 toes point in the same direction. Arms rest on the floor by your sides, palms down.
As you inhale, press into the backs of the arms and the feet, tilt the pelvis up, and lift your hips up until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Inhale and lift the right leg up, keeping your knee bent and toes in line with the knee. Take 5 pulses here, lifting the hips and squeezing the glutes. On an exhale, lower the right foot down, but keep the hips lifted. Repeat the pulses with the left leg.
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