Put down those weights and check out this asana…
It’s no secret that there are many benefits to having a consistent yoga practice, but here’s one more for you — the “yoga butt.” Urban Dictionary defines it as: The ultimate external sign of a strong and powerful body.
OK, I admit, Urban Dictionary might not be the most legit source to prove my point, but have no fear, I also phoned in a yogi friend to back me up on this one (pun intended).
“The yoga asana practice can help with muscle definition and tone all over your body,” says Jaclyn Hughes, registered yoga instructor, health and lifestyle coach and ICU nurse. While Hughes makes sure to point out that you can’t “spot reduce” in any one area of the body, including the tush, she did say that there are certainly yoga poses that will help define your derriere.
Of course, achieving a toned tush shouldn’t be your only objective in yoga class (although it’s definitely an added perk) because the benefits of the practice go far beyond just that.
More: How to get a yogi butt
“Yoga as a daily practice is most beneficial for your overall health of mind and body,” says Hughes. “A body in motion stays in motion. Plus the overwhelmingly good benefits it has to decrease your stress and quiet your mind has a systematic effect on your body. Even if it’s only a few minutes each day instead of an hour-long practice, a few Sun Salutations gets your blood, muscles, and joints moving.”
Here is Hughes’ go-to “feel the burn in your booty” yoga poses below.
1. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
“This asana is an isometric hold and increases strength in the hamstrings, glutes, and quads,” says Hughes.
Begin standing straight up, feet hip-width apart. While keeping your weight centered on your heels, engage your abdomen as you hinge forward at the waist, lowering your bottom backwards and towards the ground as if you were about to sit down in a chair.
From here, extend your arms up towards the sky and hold for four to six breaths.
2. Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
“This pose strengthens the quadriceps and gluteus muscles,” Hughes says.
Begin in Downward Facing Dog. From here, step your right foot forward in between your hands. Keep your front knee bent at a 90-degree angle (making sure it is directly aligned with your ankle) and your back knee pointing down towards the ground as you remain on the ball of your back foot, pressing strongly through the back leg to get it as straight as you can. Raise your arms up to the sky, reaching through the fingertips, and hold here for six to eight breaths and repeat on the other side.
You can also choose to lower your back knee to the ground, allowing your front knee to come beyond your ankle as you are supported by your back leg.
3. Horse Pose (V?t?yan?sana)
Begin by standing in Mountain Pose at the top of your mat. From here, bring your hands to a prayer position at your heart as you step your feet out a little more than mat-width distance apart. Turn your toes out slightly to either side, and then on an exhalation, bend your knees directly over your toes and lower your hips into a squat. Hold here for six to eight breaths.
Increase the difficulty by staying in this wide-legged stance squat pose, raising up onto your tippy toes and holding for a few breaths. Then, lower the feet back down to the ground. Repeat this exercise four to eight times.
4. Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
“Deep lunge that when held isometrically really targets your gluteus,” says Hughes.
Starting from Warrior II pose, bring your front forearm to gently rest along the top of your front thigh, allowing it to press into your leg as you turn your chest to lift towards the sky, creating space between your supporting shoulder and head. Pushing through your back foot so that all five toes are pressing evenly into the ground, keep the back leg extended straight while the front knee stays bent.
To stretch a little further, reach your front hand down towards the ground, while you continue to reach your back arm up and overhead. In this variation, the front hand can either come to the inside of the front foot, allowing the shoulder to press firmly into the knee, or bring the arm to the outside of the front foot to make the stretch a little less intense.
5. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Hughes says this pose will tone legs, gluteus, and abdominal muscles.
From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot through and place it in between your hands at the top of your mat, aligning your front heel with the inside of your back foot (front toes should be facing the front of the room, while the back foot is parallel with your yoga mat, toes facing to the side). Keeping a deep bend in the front knee and making sure the knee is directly in line with your ankle, cartwheel your arms up as you raise your chest off your thigh, reaching your arms in opposite directions. Hips face the side of the room, while your gaze remains over your right shoulder, toward the front of the room. Repeat on the opposite leg.
6. Shiva Squats
Beginning in Mountain Pose, take a step forward with your right foot as you engage your core and slowly lift your left leg back and up behind you. As your leg lifts, extend your arms out in front of you and lower your torso down towards the ground, creating one straight line from hand to foot.
“[It] requires, leg, gluteus, and core strength combined with balance on one leg,” says Hughes.
From here, take your lifted leg behind you and tuck it in behind the standing knee. Hold isometrically or repeat the movement of extension and flexion four to eight times.