Have you tried everything to lose weight and failed? Well, we have the answer for you – yoga. This method of exercise mixes the best of both worlds – fitness and meditation. The best part about it, is that no matter what your weight is or where you want to get rid of flab, you can do it with aasanas in yoga. It is light on the joints and the chances of injury – if done initially under the guidance of a trained professional – are minimal. Moreover you don’t have to waste thousands on that expensive gym membership; yoga can be practised from the comfort of your home. All you need are some comfortable clothes and a yoga mat and you are good to go. So to start you off on your holistic weight loss journey here are 12 yoga exercises you can practice to melt away the pounds.
Ardha Chandraasana: This pose is great to tone your buttocks, upper and inner thighs. If these are your problem areas, this is the pose for you. The added stretch on the sides of your tummy, help burn off those unsightly love handles and strengthen your core.
Steps to do this pose: Stand with your feet together on your yoga mat. Now, raise your hands above your head and clasp your palms together, extend the stretch by trying to reach for the ceiling. Exhale, and slowly bend sideways from your hips, keeping your hands together. Remember not to bend forward and keep your elbows straight. You should feel a stretch from your fingertips to your thighs. You will feel the strongest stretch along the side of your stomach and back. Hold this pose for as long as you can. Inhale and come back to the standing position. Repeat this pose on the other side.
Tip: If you have digestive disorders, a spine injury or high blood pressure, avoid doing this pose.
Veerbhadrasana 1: Literally meaning the warrior pose, this aasana stretches your back, strengthens your thighs, buttock and tummy. It also helps in making you more focused and opens up your chest so you can breathe better. This is an excellent pose to melt away the fat from your midsection.
Steps to do this pose: Stand on your yoga mat with your feet together and hands by your side. Now extend your right leg forward and keep your left leg extended backwards. Now, gently bend your right knee so that you get into the lunge position. Twist your torso to face your bent right leg. Slightly turn your left foot sideways (about 400-600) to give you that extra support. Exhale, straighten your arms and raise your body up and away from your bent knee. Stretch your arms upwards and slowly tilt your torso backwards so your back forms and arch. Stay in this pose for as long as you feel comfortable. Breathe normally. To get out of this pose exhale and straighten your right knee. Now push off your right leg and come back to your original position. You can use your hands to support you. Do not rush out of this pose; you might injure your back or legs. Repeat this aasana for the other leg as well.
Tip: If you have high blood pressure, shoulder, knee or back trouble, please perform this pose under the guidance of a trained teacher.
Veerbhadrasana 2: This is an aasana is a continuation of the veerbhadrasana I. This aasana is great to strengthen the muscles in your back, thighs, abdomen and core.
Steps to do this pose: Follow the same steps as Veerbhadrasana I, but instead of raising your hands above your head twist your torso so you face sideways and raise your hands to either side (so your fingers are extended and are parallel to your extended right and left leg). Now, turn your head so your eyes are facing in the same direction as your right hand. Repeat this posture for the other leg as well.
Tip: If you suffer from diarrhea or high blood pressure do not do this pose.
Utkatasana: Also known as the chair pose this aasana requires concentration and focus on the muscles being used. It strengthens the core muscles, thighs and tones the buttocks.
Steps to do this pose: Stand straight on your yoga mat with your hands in namaste in front of you. Now raise your hands above your head and bend at the knee such that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Bend your torso slightly forward and breathe. Stay in this position for as long as you can. In order to get out of this pose, gently stand up.
Tip: Do not do this pose if you have a knee injury or back injury.
Vrksasana: Also known as the tree pose, this aasana is great for the muscles of your stomach and abdomen. Apart from concentrating on your core it also helps your mind focus and tones the muscles of the thighs and arms.
Steps to do this pose: Stand with your legs together. Now put most of your weight on one leg and a little weight on the other leg. Now raise the leg with the least weight such that your foot is facing inwards, towards your opposite knee. You can hold your ankle to help you pull up the leg. Place the heel of your foot on your inner thigh of the other leg, as close to the pelvis as possible. Now gently raise your hands above your head making sure your fingers are pointing towards the ceiling. Make sure you focus your mind and try to maintain your balance. Breathing steadily and focusing on one spot in front of your eyes helps in maintaining the pose and not falling over. In yoga, it is believed that an unsteady mind leads to an unsteady body. So the more you can control your mind the better you can do this pose. Do not try to hold a chair or wall for support while doing this pose. It will only reduce the intensity of the aasana. Keep trying till you can get it just right.
Tip: If you have injured your knee or back please do this aasana under the supervision of a trained expert.
Uttanasana: This is a forward bending pose that stretches out the hamstrings, and the muscles of the abdomen. It also makes the blood rush to your head, helping your body switch from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system, helping you relax.
Steps to do this pose:
To perform this pose, stand straight. Raise your hands from the front to above your head as you inhale slowly. Then bend forward completely pushing your buttocks back till your palms touch the floor and your forehead touches your knees. If you cannot bend completely, or are uncomfortable with the stretch on your hamstrings, bend your knees a little. Stay in this pose till you are comfortable.. To return back to the standing position, as you inhale slowly bring your arms above your head, raising your upper body. Then as you exhale bring your arms down from front of your face. Do not jerk up. Remember to rise up from the hips, without straining your muscles.
Surya namaskar: Surya namaskar is a set of yoga aasanas done in succession. It has amazing weight reduction properties since it employs various forward and backward bending aasanas that flex and stretch the spinal column giving a profound stretch to the whole body. Believe it or not this is a full body workout like no other. It has a deep effect in detoxifying your internal organs through copious oxygenation and has a deeper relaxing effect. (Read: How to practise Surya Namaskar the right way)
Ardha Matsyendrasana: This aasana is specifically designed to increase the capacity of your lungs so it can inhale and hold more oxygen. Apart from that it stretches out the spine and tones the thighs and abdominal muscles. According to yoga practitioners this pose stimulates the digestive system helping you digest food more efficiently and burn fat all over your body.
Steps to do this pose: Sit up with your legs stretched out straight in front of you, keeping your feet together and your spine erect. Bend your left leg and place the heel of your left foot beside your right hip (optionally, you can keep your left leg straight). Now, take the right leg over your left knee and place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind you. Twist at the waist, shoulders and neck in this sequence to the right and look over the right shoulder. Hold and continue with gentle long breaths in and out. To come back to the starting position, continue breathing out, release the right hand first (the hand behind you), release the waist, then chest, lastly the neck and sit up relaxed yet straight. Repeat on the other side. Breathing out, come back to the front and relax.
Tip: If you have a back injury, do this pose only in the presence of a certified trainer.
Badhakonasana : This aasana is the best thing you can do for your inner thighs. It the one pose in yoga that will help you target your problem area while simultaneously strengthening your spine, muscles of the groins, knees and lower back. It also helps relieve menstrual discomfort and improves digestion.
Steps to do this pose: Sit on your yoga mat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Keep your spine erect and bend your legs at the knees, such that the soles of your feet are facing each other. Now with your hands pull your legs in so that your heels touch each other and they are as close to your pelvis as possible. While holding your legs at the ankles, move your thighs up and down, just like the wings of a butterfly. Do this as many times as you can. Remember that the closer your legs are to your pelvis the greater the benefit of this pose. Do not push yourself, do as much as you can and your flexibility will improve with time.
Tip: Do not do this aasana if you have injured your knees.
Kapal bhati pranayam: This is a form of breathing exercise that helps to oxygenate your body while strengthening the muscles of your stomach and abdomen. It helps in giving you that flat toned tummy, melts away love handles and improves digestion.
Steps to do this pose: Sit comfortably on your yoga mat. Keep your spine erect and your palms on your knees facing downwards. Now exhale through your nose and pull your stomach in towards your spine. When you loosen your stomach muscles you will automatically breath in. Quickly contract your stomach muscles again and exhale. Your stomach muscles should be doing the work of pushing out and pulling in air. Do this initially about 50 times, you can increase the number of repetitions as you feel comfortable. After doing this form of breathing you will initially feel some soreness around the muscles of your stomach and abdomen. This is normal.
Tip: Avoid doing this pose if you have high blood pressure, a hernia or heart disease.
Kumbhakasana : Also known as the plank pose this aasana is the most simple yet effective pose in Yoga. It strengthens and tones your arms, shoulders, back, buttocks, thighs and not to mention your abs. interestingly this is the best aasana to get rock hard abs.
Steps to do this pose: Lie flat on your tummy on the floor or your yoga mat. Now place your palms next to your face and bend your feet so that the toes are pushing off the ground. Now push off your hands and raise your buttock into the air. Your legs should be flat on the floor as far as possible and your neck should be loose. This is known as the downward dog or adho mukha svanasana. Once here, inhale and lower your torso so that your arms are perpendicular to the floor and your shoulders and chest are directly over your arms. Remember to keep your fingers from flaring out and keep them close together. You will feel your stomach muscles tighten. Hold this pose for as long as you can. To get out of this pose, exhale and gently lower your body to the floor (just like you would come out of a push up). You can end this pose by either doing bhujangasana or simply roll to your side and push off your hands to the sitting position. (Read: Stressed out? Try these yoga poses)
Tip: If you have back or shoulder injuries or have high blood pressure avoid doing this pose.
Halasana: This pose is great for those who sit for long hours and tend to have bad posture. It tones the muscles of your buttock and strengthens your shoulders and thighs. It also stimulates the functioning of the thyroid glands, parathyroid glands, lungs and abdominal organs, therefore helping the blood rush to your head and face, improves digestion and keeps the hormonal levels in check.
Step to do this pose:
Lie flat on the floor on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms by your side and bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. Now, slowly raise your legs from the hips. Place your hands on your hips as you raise it and use them as support. Now slowly bend your legs at the hips and try to touch the floor behind your head with your toes and straighten your hands so they are flat on the floor. Breath out while going up. To return to the lying position gently roll your back onto the floor, breath in while you come down. Do not drop down suddenly.
Tip to keep in mind: If you suffer from liver or spleen disorders, hypertension, have diarrhoea, are menstruating or have suffered a neck injury, avoid doing this pose.
Setubandhasana: This pose is great to tone up the thighs, strengthens the shoulders and tone your abs. It also relaxes the mind, improves digestion, relieves the symptoms of menopause in women and stretches the neck and spine. It is also great to keep one’s blood pressure under control.
Steps to do this pose: Lie flat on your yoga mat, with your feet flat on the floor. Now exhale and push up, and off the floor with your feet. Raise your body up such that your neck and head are flat on the mat and the rest of your body is in the air. You can use your hands to push down for added support. If you are flexible you can even clasp your fingers just below your raised back for that added stretch. The key here is to not overexert or hurt yourself while doing this pose.
Tip: Avoid doing this pose if you have a neck or back injury.
Relaxation or aasanas to cool down:
Balasana: Known quite aptly as the child’s pose this is a great stress buster. It gently stretches the hips, thighs, ankles, calms the mind and helps relieve stress and fatigue. It is also a great remedy for that lower back pain you might have from long hours of sitting.
How to do the pose:
Sit on the floor with your weight on your knees. Now flatten your feet onto the floor and sit on your heels. Spread your thighs apart a little. Exhale and bend forward from your waist. Let your stomach rest on your thighs and extend your back. Now stretch out your arms in front of you to elongate the back. You can also rest your forehead on the floor. This may require flexibility, so don’t push your body beyond its permissible limit. It will get better with time.
This is a resting pose so you should ideally breath at a normal pace. You can stay in this pose for as long as three minutes and as little as five counts.
Tip: If you are pregnant, have a knee injury or have diarrhoea do not do this pose.
This pose is the best way to relax and allow your mind to reach a peaceful state. Did you know that we can throw out 90 percent of the toxins from our body by breathing correctly? We can learn the art of breathing right by observing new born babies. Have you seen their stomach gently rising and falling as they breathe in and breathe out? Breath is our vital source of energy. The key to healthy and happy living lies in right breathing. When we attend to our breath, it can heal us from all worries and anxieties. This is the last part of the workout and is the best way to regain all your strength and look forward to a bright and happy day. (Read: Pranayama – why it actually works!)
Image source: onsugar.com, cnyhealingarts.com, smilingdogblog.com, yogapilates.it, artofliving.org, yogasanatraining.com, yogalifejourney.com
You may also like to read:
- 12 yoga poses for weight loss
- 10 yoga poses to keep diabetes under control (gallery)
- 4 yoga poses to beat menstrual pain that really work
- Yoga asanas to beat hair loss
- Want glowing skin? Forget expensive creams and try yoga
- Control premature ejaculation with yoga
- Naked yoga – does it have any real health benefits?
- Keep your face fit with face yoga
- Try these yoga poses to improve digestion
- 7 yoga tips for a happy pregnancy
Know your yoga asana
- A yoga asana for instant relief from backaches – marjariasana or cat stretch
- Yoga pose for a stronger orgasm – dhanurasana
- Yoga asana for thighs, belly fat and buttocks
- Anulom-vilom pranayam – beat diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol with this yoga asana
- Halasana – beat bad posture and backaches with this yoga asana
- Know your yoga asana – Veerbhadrasana
- Know your yoga asana – Vrkshasana
- Adho Mukho Svanasana – strengthen your upper body and calm your mind with this asana
- Know your yoga asana – Sarvangasana
- Know your yoga pose – Padmasana
For more yoga, check out our yoga section. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates! For daily free health tips, sign up for our newsletter. And to join discussions on health topics of your choice, visit our forum.