Achieving a super-sexy set of biceps doesn't always require a super-heavy set of dumbbells. Contrary to popular belief, all you really need to be a lean, mean, muscle-sculpted queen is a yoga mat and your own body!
Yoga, especially vinyasa-based Power Yoga classes, are fantastic for total-body toning, according to Alanna Zabel, yoga instructor to the stars and founder of AZIAM, the modern yoga lifestyle brand.
"In these types of classes you are building internal heat, instead of simply sweating from external heat," she says. "You will also move fluidly through a greater number of postures, which increases your odds for a full-body workout."
So how exactly does stretching make you stronger? Yoga, much like dance, creates strength resistance by moving the body through the space around it, resulting in tightened and toned muscles.
"There is a dynamic process that occurs when a muscle is both stretched and strengthened during the same exercise," Zabel says. "The muscle fibers and connective tissue elongate, while the added resistance creates tension that increases collagen fibers, to maintain a lean and toned appearance."
Check out her top five total body toning yoga poses below.
Holding plank position on your forearms increases the tone of your deltoids, entire abdominal wall and quadriceps.
For an extra challenge, alternate lifting your legs and holding for five to eight breaths on each side.
Holding this pose isometrically helps to stimulate the rectus abdominis, which tones the front of your core. The back, neck, quadriceps and hamstrings are all working as well to hold this pose.
This strengthens your entire backside, including your upper back, gluteus muscles and hamstrings.
This is a powerhouse of a posture, in that multiple muscle groups are worked at the same time. Lifting the back leg strengthens the lower back, reaching the front arm upward strengthens the upper back, and standing on one leg strengthens the glutes, hamstrings and obliques.
Learning to lift your body upside down requires the use of muscles that we are not accustomed to using, since we sit and stand upright 60 percent of the time. Lifting your body away from gravity while upside down helps tone muscles that have weakened as a result of gravity. This increases the overall tone of the lower body, including your legs and lower torso.
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