Lately there seems to be a huge misconception surrounding yoga. Those who have never practiced it tend to view it as a meditative, easy exercise, or something that’s all about finesse without any real fitness benefits. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Yoga provides an intense, full-body workout that can have your muscles aching in all the best ways after a well-developed routine. These are some of the most challenging yoga poses out there, not because of how long it takes to fold your limbs still, but due to how hard they’ll work your core muscles. These poses will leave your body a lot tauter and toned if you do them correctly.
The Plank Pose
Planking is the predecessor to sit-ups, and they are here to stay. This yoga pose is best achieved starting from a downward facing dog, then lifting onto your tiptoes and rising into a push-up position. Your wrists should be directly beneath your shoulders while your hips are low and aligned with the rest of your body. Keep your gaze a few inches in front of your hands and hold for several deep breaths or 60 second intervals. This will engage your core muscles and push you one step closer to killer abs.
The Locust Post
This strengthens the buttocks, spine, abs, and the back of the arms and legs helps to improve posture. Lie down on your stomach with your forehead resting on the ground and your arms flat at your sides, palms facing upwards. From there, take a deep breath and lift yourself up as you exhale. Clasp your arms behind your back and keep your feet elevated several inches off the ground, in line with your hips. Hold for several breaths and release. For added intensity, you can roll your shoulder blades throughout the pose, or try to lift your chest even higher off of the ground.
This is one of the quintessential yoga poses where your hands are pressed together against your chest and you’re balanced on one leg. It’s much easier said than done, so if you want a fun challenge, this is it. The tree pose begins by shifting your weight onto your left leg. From there, bring your right knee to your chest, take hold of your ankle and press your right foot against your left thigh. If you find it easy to balance this way, place your palms together and hold them in front of your chest for 10 deep, solid breaths before repeating on the other leg to engage in a strong ab workout.
REVOLVED CRESCENT LUNGE
This pose engages your core as well as your oblique abdominals. Placing your hands together in a prayer pose, lunge forward with your left leg and stop at about 90 degrees, keeping your right leg extended straight behind you the entire time. Keep your spine elongated as you lean over your left thigh and press your right elbow against it. Turn your head so your gaze is fixed on the ceiling, hold for 10 long breaths and release before repeating on the other side.
Mastering yoga poses isn’t easy, but like the exercise itself, it’s all about balance. If you still aren’t sure where to start or want a second pair of eyes to see if you’re doing the workouts correctly, get a teacher. Classes online and at gyms like Halevy Life are abundant so you’ll definitely have trainers available. Don’t leave your workout to chance and find a trainer you trust. When you strike the perfect harmony between agility and strength, you’ll be able to hold even the toughest yoga poses for long intervals, and clear your mind while strengthening your muscles and improve your flexibility. The best part? All you need is a little bit of space, so you can do these anywhere and take your workout on the go.