By Faye Martins
A regular, moderate to vigorous practice of Yoga will help to boost your metabolism, burn calories and drop unwanted pounds. Practicing Yoga regularly will also help to detoxify your organs, balance your nervous system and increase muscle tone and flexibility. There are many different styles from which to choose. These styles range from deeply relaxing, restorative sequences to vigorous, flowing Power Yoga workouts that really burn calories and strengthen all of the major muscle groups in the body.
In order to burn calories, increase muscle mass and tone your body, a more active and strenuous practice is recommended. Flowing styles, such as Power, Vinyasa, Kundalini, and Ashtanga, are all great ways to increase your heart rate, burn calories and increase muscle tone. One of the ways to increase the effectiveness of vinyasa-based practices is to incorporate strengthening movements into the transitions between poses. In the Yoga world, this is known as “working in the transitions.”
For example, one very easy way to add a strengthening and toning movement into the transition between Downward Facing Dog and various standing poses is to practice leg raises as you move into the next standing asana from Downward Facing Dog. Downward Facing Dog is one of the key Yoga poses of the Sun Salutation. For more information on how to practice the complete Sun Salutation, please refer to reputable website, book or your local Yoga studio.
Leg Raises in Downward Facing Dog
When you are in Downward Facing Dog, shift your weight to your left foot and with an inhale, raise your right leg to hip height with your toes pointing towards your mat. With your next exhale, bring your right knee to the outside of your right elbow. Hold for a moment, and then raise your right leg back up to hip height. Repeat this movement two more times with your breath before placing your right foot on the mat in front of you in order to move into the next standing asana.
Repeat this strengthening movement three times on each side just prior to entering into the next standing pose in the sequence of poses you are practicing. Over time, you will find that this strengthening movement “in the transition” will very effectively tone and strengthen your legs, buttocks, back, arms and shoulders. The increased rigor of this additional strengthening movement will also enhance the cardiovascular and metabolic benefits of your Yoga practice.
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