Photo: Larry Bartholomew
We all have one or two problem areas that are hard to firm up—hello, chicken arms—but that we long to get rid of for good. Solution: this fun, flowing yoga routine designed to tone your toughest bulges while giving you loads of energy. (Just want to focus on a single trouble spot? Look for the move or moves for that area, and hold the pose for as long as you can.)
This Vinyasa-style routine was created by Mark Blanchard, the Los Angeles–based yogi behind the popular True Power Yoga DVDs who’s helped shape the bodies of Jennifer Lopez, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu. Follow his 25-minute sequence 4 times per week, and in 3 weeks you’ll be much firmer all over. Now that’s worth unrolling a mat for!
Stand tall with feet together, equal weight on both your feet, arms by sides. Inhale and exhale through your nose 5 times.
Standing Forward Bend
Stretches back and legs
Inhale as you reach your hands up toward the sky, then exhale and bend at the waist to fold over your legs, reaching toward the ground (hold your calves, if it feels comfortable; shown). Hold for 5 breaths, concentrating on lifting your quadriceps (don’t lock your knees) and letting your upper body hang.
For muffin top and bat wingsExhale as you put hands on the ground (bend your knees, if you need to), and walk your feet back to Plank position (shown here). Your feet should be hip-width apart, with your hands directly under your shoulders. Keep your belly firm and hips lifted as you press through your heels. Hold for 5 breaths.
For bat wings and flabby thighs
Inhale as you bend your arms to lower to Low Plank position. Hold for 1 breath.
For bra bulge and back fat
Exhale as you lower your body to the mat, with hands still under your shoulders and the tops of your feet on the mat. Inhale as you press up through your hands to Upward-Facing Dog, lifting your knees if you’re able (shown at left). Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears, chest open, and fingers spread. Hold for 3 breaths.
Stretches back and legs
Inhale as you tuck your toes and push back up into Low Plank, then exhale as you lift your hips and thighs and straighten your arms (don’t lock your elbows), moving into Downward-Facing Dog position (shown). Keep your hips lifted high as you press your heels down. Hold for 5 breaths.
For pudgy hips
Keeping your hips square, inhale as you lift your right leg back, then bend your knee and step your right foot forward. Come to standing with your left foot turned out 45 degrees and left heel centered behind your right foot. Face your hips forward and stretch down over your right leg, arms reaching down on either side of the leg. Bend your right knee to 90 degrees, and lift your arms up overhead (hips still facing forward) into Warrior
1 position. Hold for 1 breath.
For low-belly pooch
Inhale as you straighten your right knee, then exhale as you bend it again, twisting your torso toward the left and lowering your arms so that the right arm is straight out in front of you and your left arm is straight out behind you (shown above). Hold for 1 breath.
For flabby thighs
Inhale as you straighten your right leg and hinge forward at the hip to come into Extended Triangle pose, bringing your right hand to your shin, ankle, or the floor and raising your left hand straight up into the air. Hold for 1 breath.
For love handles
Keeping your legs strong and belly firm, inhale and reach both hands forward. Bend your right knee and reach your right shoulder toward it, then straighten your leg as you raise back up (shown above). Bend and straighten 2 more times, then turn your chest toward the ground and fold over your straight right leg; hold for 5 breaths. Inhale as you bend both knees, and return to Plank position. Hold for 1 breath. Do steps 3–10 on the left side, then repeat the whole series (steps 3–10 on each side) 2 more times.
For saggy butt and flabby thighs
From Plank position, inhale as you step your right foot forward, followed by your left. Slowly rise halfway up, lifting your chest and bringing your arms overhead. Sink back into your hips (be sure to keep your knees behind your toes), as if sitting in a chair (shown). Keep your back straight, and tuck your tailbone. Hold for 10 breaths.
Standing Chest Lift
For back fat
Inhale as you slowly return to standing. Exhale as you wrap your hands around the top of your hips and butt with your thumbs at your tailbone. Lift your chest as you gently push your elbows back and in toward each other, bringing hips forward and arching your back. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.