By Kimaya Singh
Practicing Yoga for weight loss is a great way to tone, shape and sculpt your body. Not only does Yoga help to increase your range of movement and flexibility, it also helps to strengthen your entire body. There are many different Yoga postures or asanas that one can practice. A Yoga practice can be tailored to energizing you or relaxing and restoring your vital life energy. If you are focusing on weight loss, practicing Yoga postures and sequences that raise your heart rate to an aerobic level will help you to burn more calories and lose weight. There are also strengthening techniques that can be incorporated into a traditional Yoga flow to increase the sculpting and toning benefits of the practice.
One of the basic vinyasa or flow series in Yoga routines is the Sun Salutation. This series of foundational poses warms up all of the core muscle groups in the body. The Sun Salutation also increases optimal blood flow to all areas of your body, including areas that may be tight or contracted from stress and tension. The ensuing release of tension will increase your energy level dramatically. If you move at a pace that is quick enough to raise your heart rate to a moderate aerobic level, you will burn calories and improve the functioning of your cardiovascular system.
Many of the poses that are part of the Sun Salutation flow series are also very strengthening. A great way to increase the aerobic and strengthening effectiveness of the Sun Salutation is to incorporate strengthening moves as you link the poses together with a vinyasa flow. One way to do this is to practice leg raises while you are in Downward Facing Dog before you move into the next standing posture.
Adding Leg Raises into the Sun Salutation
After warming up with several basic Sun Salutations, you will be ready to include leg raises into your Yoga flow. When you are in Downward Facing Dog, pause and shift your left foot in a few inches towards the center of your mat. With your body weight evenly distributed between your hands, raise your right leg behind you with your next inhale. Keep your toes pointing towards the floor.
Slowly bring your right knee towards your right arm. Hold for several seconds and then raise your right leg behind you again. Repeat two more times and then transition into your next standing posture by bringing your right leg forward on your Yoga mat. When you are ready to move into the same asana on the left hand side, pause in Downward Facing Dog and practice three leg raises with your left leg. If you incorporate three leg raises on each side before each standing asana, you will tone, sculpt and shape your body very effectively.
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