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Yoga For Arms, Legs, and Abs

Yoga For Strength Training: 3 Moves to Tone Your Abs, Legs, and Arms

Put down those dumbbells! Weight training isn't the only way to tone your muscles. The next time you need to work your abs, arms, and legs, do these three yoga-inspired strength-training moves.

Dolphin Dive

Here's a variation on plank that'll give you a chiseled upper body and core you can't wait to show off.

  • Begin in Quarter Dog. Press your hips and shoulders back toward your feet, lengthening through your spine. If you can, try to press your heels down toward the ground to stretch through your calves and hamstrings. Tilt your tailbone up slightly to feel a stretch in your lower back.
  • Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, dive forward, coming into Dolphin Plank position. Make sure your hips are in line with your shoulders, so your body is parallel with the ground. If this is too difficult, rest one or both knees on the floor.
  • Inhale back to the start position. Repeat Dolphin Dive for three sets of 20 reps.

Keep reading to learn how to do Backbend Push-Ups and Headstand Crunches.

Backbend Push-Ups

This challenging push-up variation will work your arms and upper back, as well as your legs and booty.

  • Lie on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground, hips-width distance apart, and the heels as close to the butt as possible.
  • Bend your elbows and place your palms flat on the ground above your shoulders, fingertips facing your feet.
  • Inhale, press into your palms and lift your head and shoulders off the ground, placing the crown of your head on the mat (as shown in the photo below). Check to make sure your hands and feet are parallel.
  • Take a deep inhale as you straighten your arms and lift your head off the ground, coming into Full Wheel. Try to walk your hands and feet a little closer together — this will make it easier to do push-ups in this position.
  • As you exhale, bend your elbows and lower the top of your head toward the floor, stopping before it touches. If that's too difficult, rest your head on the mat for a few breaths. Then inhale to straighten your arms, coming back into Wheel. Move slowly and with control, completing as many Backbend Push-Ups as you can with correct form, working up to three sets of 20 reps.

Headstand Crunches

Forget basic crunches! Here's a fun way to tone your core and upper body while balancing upside down. If you're confident holding Headstand, you'll have no problem doing this move, but if you need a little help, do these crunches facing a wall and just walk your feet down and up.

  • Begin on your hands and knees. Lower your elbows to the floor and interlace your fingers, bringing your lowest pinkie in front of the other pinkie, forming a semicircle with your hands.
  • Place the back of your head against your palms, and the top of your head on the mat, so your skull is vertical with the floor. Once your head and forearms feel stable, straighten both legs and walk your feet toward your face as far as you can.
  • Shift your hips over your shoulders, and keep your elbows planted firmly on the mat. Lift both legs into the air, coming into Bound Headstand.
  • Stay in Headstand for five breaths, relaxing the jaw as well as the shoulders away from the ears. Take a breath in, and as you exhale, slowly lower both feet toward the mat so they are parallel with the floor. Hold here for another five breaths.
  • Inhale and then exhale to raise the legs back up into Headstand. Repeat four more times.
  • If you're up for more of a challenge, then on the exhale, slowly lower both feet all the way down, hovering an inch or so above the floor, and then inhale to slowly rise back up to Headstand.
  • Complete three sets of 20 Headstand Crunches or as many as you can do correctly. The slower you move, the less you'll rely on momentum, which means a more effective core workout.
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