Yoga is a known stress buster, but it’s also one of the most effective workouts for fighting stubborn fat stores, especially the ones that crop up after age 40. Yes, you can use yoga for weight loss. The reason: Studies show that yoga lowers levels of stress hormones and increases insulin sensitivity—a signal to your body to burn food as fuel rather than store it as fat. The following yoga poses for weight loss will do just that while firming up your arms, legs, butt, and abs. Start now to see weight lossresults in as little as 3 weeks. (Cinch your waist and get toned all over with Prevention’s Flat Belly Yoga DVD.)
Workout at a Glance
What you need: A yoga mat or carpeted space
How to do it: Follow this routine at least 3 times a week, holding each move 1 time for 3 to 5 deep breaths, unless otherwise noted. Start with the Main Move for each exercise. If it’s too difficult, do the Make It Easier variation. If it’s not challenging enough, try the Make It Harder option. For faster results, hold each pose for 5 to 8 breaths and increase repetitions (where noted) by 2 or 3.
Stand with feet together, toes forward, and arms at sides. Inhale and raisearms overhead, reaching fingertips toward ceiling. Exhale, and bend forward from hips, bringing hands to floor (it’s OK to bend knees). 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.
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Make it harder:
From end position, inhale and arch torso, arms, and head backward, gazing at fingertips.
Make it easier: Lower right knee to touch floor as you step back into a lunge, and rest hands on left thigh.
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 bend torso to left. Inhale and straighten. Repeat 3 to 5 times, pressing foot into thigh; switch sides.
Make it easier: Keep left foot on calf or touch toes to floor for balance.
Make it harder: Close eyes as you balance and bend.
Sit with knees bent, feet on floor, hands on thighs. With torso straight and head in line with body, lean back about 45 degrees, raising feet so calves are parallel to floor, toes pointed. On an inhale, extend arms and legs, keeping legs together. Exhale, and as you inhale, lower torso and legs 3 to 4 inches so body forms a wider V shape. Exhale and raise torso and legs. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Make it easier: Hold backs of thighs with hands and keep legs bent. Lower torso only.
Make it harder: Once in the wider V position, extend arms overhead.
Begin in push-up position on toes with arms straight, hands below shoulders, and body in line from head to heels. On an exhale, lower chest toward floor, bending elbows back, arms close to body, abs tight. Hold a few inches above floor.
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Make it easier: Begin on hands and knees and walk hands forward until body is in line from head to knees.
Make it harder: While holding the hover, lift left leg 6 to 12 inches, pause, and lower. Do 3 to 5 times, then switch legs.
Stand with feet together, toes forward, arms at sides. Inhale and raisearms overhead, palms facing each other. Exhale and sit back about 45 degrees, keeping knees behind toes and abs tight to support your back; gaze forward.
Make it easier: Do the move with feet hip-distance apart, hands onthighs, and bend only about 30 degrees.
Make it harder: After you sit back, lift heels off floor, balancing on balls of feet (knees will be in front of toes); gaze up at fingertips.