Let Go of Those Love Handles! A Yoga Sequence to Help Tone Your Tummy
Muffin top, love handles, tummy tire — whatever the name, it's not something many of us want to hold onto. While strength-training moves that target this area won't diminish belly fat entirely — cardio is also key — building muscle mass helps your body burn more calories. When you finally lose the body fat around your middle, core-toning poses like these will reveal a sleek and strong physique. As a bonus, this sequence will also strengthen the arms, butt, and thighs.
- Come onto the hands and knees with your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
- Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into the classic upside-down-V shape called Downward Facing Dog.
- Spread your fingers wide, and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button.
- Breathe deeply for five breaths.
- From Down Dog, inhale to step your right foot forward between your hands. Turn your left heel in, press into your feet, and lift your torso up.
- Raise your arms up, and press your palms together. Draw your shoulder blades down toward your hips, and gaze up toward your hands in Warrior 1.
- Stay here for five breaths.
- From Warrior 1, inhale to open your hips, arms, and chest to the left.
- Gaze past your right fingertips, keeping your front thigh parallel with the floor.
- Stay like this in Warrior 2 for five complete breaths.
Extended Side Angle
- From Warrior 2, exhale as you plant your right hand on the floor beside your right foot, and raise your left arm over your ear.
- Hold Extended Side Angle for five breaths.
- From Extended Side Angle, release your left palm to the mat in Down Dog position. Grab onto your right big toe with the first two fingers and thumb of your right hand.
- Inhale to come up onto the ball of the back foot, and roll open to the left, raising your right leg into the air and planting your left heel on the mat.
- Straighten the leg if you can or keep the knee bent, gazing at your right hand while holding Sage for five deep breaths.
- From Sage, release your right toes, bend your right knee, and use your right hand to pull your right heel as high up on your inner thigh as possible, so it's in Tree position.
- Once you're stable, reach your right arm up above you, and if you can, gaze up at your palm.
- Stay here in Sage Tree for five deep breaths, trying to keep your core strong and the pose steady.
- From Sage Tree, straighten the right leg into the air.
- Gaze at your lifted hand, and hold Balancing Star for five breaths. Keeping your core engaged will help you stay balanced.
One-Legged Four-Limbed Staff
- From Balancing Star, keep the right leg lifted, and as you exhale, release your right hand to the mat and bend your elbows behind you, slowly lowering into Four-Limbed Staff.
- Keep your abs engaged and your body in one straight line with the right leg lifted. If this is too difficult, rest the right knee on the floor.
- Hold here for five complete breaths.
Upward Facing Dog
- From One-Legged Four-Limbed Staff, release the right foot to the floor and inhale as you scoop the chest forward, coming into Upward Facing Dog.
- Continue to press equally into the tops of the feet and palms, breathing for five breaths.
- From Up Dog, release your belly to the floor. Bring the arms behind your lower back, and clasp your fingers together, pressing the heels of the palms together in a double fist.
- As you inhale, pull the hands away from you to lift the chest as high as you can, simultaneously raising the feet.
- Lengthen through the spine by drawing the head away from the toes, holding Clasped Locust for five breaths.
- From Clasped Locust, keep the legs and torso lifted as you release your hands and extend them in front of you.
- Lift your feet and hands as high as you can, breathing deeply for five breaths.
- From Extended Locust, continue lifting the torso and legs as you lower the hands to the mat beside your hips, palms facing up.
- Drawing the feet together will engage the inner thighs and hamstrings more. Relax the shoulders away from the ears, holding Locust for five breaths.
- From Locust, bend the knees and reach your hands back to hold the inside of your ankles. If this is too difficult, hold the outside instead.
- Actively press the feet up and way from your torso to feel a deep opening in the chest and shoulders.
- Gaze forward in this variation of Bow pose for five breaths.
- From Chest-Opening Bow, release the left leg to the floor behind you and prop your torso up with your left elbow, crossing your forearm so it's diagonal with your chest.
- Keeping the right knee bent, use your upper-body strength to press the sole of your right foot toward the floor. Turn your fingers so they are pointing in the same direction as your toes, and lift your right elbow up toward the ceiling to give you some leverage. You shouldn't feel any pain in your knee or hip, so if you do, decrease the amount of weight you're pressing into your right foot.
- Stay here for five deep breaths in Half Frog, and repeat with the left knee bent.
- From Half Frog, bend both knees and reach your hands back to hold onto your feet. If it's difficult to get ahold of both feet at the same time, grab one foot first, and then the other.
- Turn your fingers so they are pointing in the same direction as your toes, and lift your elbows up so they're pointing toward the ceiling. This will allow you to get more leverage so you can use your upper-body strength to press the soles of both feet toward the floor, which will increase the stretch in your quads. Lift your chest as high as you can.
- Stay here in Frog for five deep breaths, then release your feet and straighten your legs.
- Press back into Child's Pose to release the lower back.