Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Yoga for Women: How to Gain a Shapely Waist through Yoga

The size of the waist is an indication of overall fitness for many people. Most health experts agree that a smaller waist is healthier than a big one. The reasoning behind this is that increases in fat around the waist and abdominal region usually result in increased health risks such as diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure.
In evolutionary and biological terms, a small waist signifies youth and vitality. But doing endless workouts of crunches alone will not allow you to achieve that Venus-like waist of your dreams. You will need to supplement specific waist-orientated exercises with ones from various disciplines.

Muscles of the trunk
Muscles of the trunk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Specifically you will need to work the inner girdle of muscles - commonly known as the core muscles - with slow abdominal exercises that work very deep into these muscle groups - and also incorporate some cardiovascular exercises that help your body shed fat.

While usually associated with building flexibility, some specific exercises from yoga-based workouts also target the underlying core muscles around the waist - and many can help with weight loss as well.

So, how can yoga help reshape your waist? In simple terms, by requiring you to move - and hold - your torso muscles as a unit. Rather than isolating your abdominal muscles as you do in crunches, yoga poses help to lengthen your overall torso, creating a feeling that is both centered and strong.

Think of your torso as a long vessel through which numerous muscles interact to keep you looking lean. Your transversus abdominis, the deepest abdominal muscle, works with the others to hold in your lower belly. Your erector spinae, the muscles that attach on your spine, straighten your posture and can make you feel (and appear) taller, while your rectus abdominis and obliques are the strong and flexible muscles that allow your limbs to move freely.

In holding most yoga poses, you are strengthening all of these muscles at once, without even thinking about it. This is one of the reasons I love yoga so much - it's a full-body workout, so that your whole body gets stronger as a unit, avoiding the imbalances that can often be caused by working muscles in isolation.

Here are a couple of great exercises for the abdominal and waist area to get you started:

Warrior III Pose / Airplane on blocks #yoga #b...
Warrior III Pose / Airplane on blocks (Photo credit: TonyFelgueiras)

Start in the Mountain Pose with the heels slightly apart, big toes touching, legs straight, chest lifted, pelvis in a neutral position. Placing hands on hips, step back with your right foot so just your right toes touch the floor, keeping all of your body weight on your left foot.

Keep your right leg extended in a straight line as you start to lean forward from your hips. Balance the length of your body over your left leg until your torso is parallel to the floor. Keep your weight evenly distributed through inner and outer heel, with hips level. Begin with 5 breath cycles and progress to 15. As you get stronger, progress into the full pose by extending your arms up past your ears, so you are one long line from toes to fingertips.

Lift your torso up and return to the Mountain Pose; repeat on the other side.


Plank! (Photo credit: lululemon athletica)
Begin on your hands and knees, hands directly under shoulders, knees under hips. Move feet back until the legs are straight and you're balancing on your toes, feet together. Keep the shoulders pulled back and down, arms straight. This is the Plank Pose.

Squeezing the ankles together, roll onto the outer edge of the left foot, keeping feet stacked, legs straight. Lift the right hand toward ceiling then look up at it. Let your abs support your body without bending or crunching. Then lower right hand to floor, rolling down toward the right, and return to the Plank Pose. Repeat on other side. Hold each pose for 5 breath cycles.

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