Lifting light weights or hitting the gym for a sweaty session can, without a doubt, tone your body. But the same repetitive movements of lifting weights or cardio sessions at the gym can become boring and uninspired. Are you looking for a holistic and embodied practice that will leave you feeling and looking great from the inside, out? Then yoga may be the perfect body toning practice for you!
So can yoga tone your body? A consistent and regular yoga practice can absolutely tone your body. Because yoga is a full-body practice, you use many different muscles while you move and start to tone and strengthen your entire body. Depending on what kind of yoga you practice, yoga can be a form of strength training and you can tone your body with yoga.
There are different styles of yoga and some tone your body more than others. Gentler practices such as Hatha, Yin, or Restorative are great for improving flexibility and relaxation. While more physical styles of yoga such as Hot Yoga, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga are more effective if your goal is to give your body more definition.
How Long Will it Take to See Results?
The key to seeing results in your body is consistency in your practice. You won’t see results after 1 or 2 practices, but if you practice consistently over a period of time, your body will begin to change and tone up. If you are looking to tone your body with your yoga practice:
- Set up a schedule: You might start out with practicing 1-2 days a week, and eventually build yourself up to a daily practice. It’s important to stay consistent in your practice. Remember 20-minute sessions 3 days a week are more beneficial than a one-hour session one time per week.
- Listen to your body: Give your body time to adjust to your new practice. If you need rest, listen to your body and take a day off to rest and recover.
- Maintain a healthy diet: A healthy diet is key to keeping your body strong and healthy. If toning your muscles is your goal, be aware of what you eat and speak to your doctor or nutritionist about the best type of diet for you.
Benefits of a Consistent Yoga Practice
Starting a regular yoga practice isn’t simply about the physical benefits. While that may be your motivation for starting your practice, you may soon start to experience many other benefits in your body, your mind, and your entire being.
A consistent and regular yoga practice can:
- Improve your concentration and focus
- Help you to feel more calm, centered, and grounded
- Allow for more energy and balance in your mind and body
- Improve your flexibility and agility
- Help you to feel more confident and self-aware
Best Yoga Poses to Tone Your Body
A well-rounded active, yoga practice will strengthen and tone nearly every part of your body. If you attend a vinyasa or Hot yoga practice, you will likely engage many different parts of your body and start to strengthen many muscle groups. During a vinyasa practice, you are constantly moving and engaging your upper and lower body as you flow through the poses. If you are looking to tone and strengthen specific parts of your body, you can also focus on a few poses daily. Here are some poses that you can try to tone different parts of your body:
Thigh Toning Yoga Poses
Strong thighs make for strong-standing yoga poses. Try the following postures to tone and strengthen your inner and outer thighs:
This posture strengthens your inner thighs and allows you to feel grounded and strong in your lower body. It can be practiced with a block in between your thighs to feel a sensation of your inner thighs hugging inward.
To practice Chair pose:
- Start at the top of your mat with your feet hips-width distance apart and your toes pointing straight forward.
- On your inhale, sit down as if you were sitting on a chair and take your arms up overhead with palms facing inward.
- Sit low and feel your body weight on your heels.
- Relax your shoulders, lift your chest, and keep your arms strong.
- Stay for 5 deep breaths.
Warrior poses are strong, energetic, and a great way to feel the strength and power in your legs. Keep your toes on the mat, and ground yourself on your feet as you feel the energy rise up your legs.
To practice Warrior 1:
- Begin in Mountain pose.
- Step your right foot back about 3-4 feet and turn your right toes in at a 45° angle.
- Line your left heel with your back right arch.
- Keep your hips squared to the front of the room and bend your right knee to a 90° angle
- Lift your arms over your head in a prayer position and turn your gaze up toward your fingertips.
- Ground both feet onto the mat and feel your inner thighs hugging inward.
- Stay for 5 breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
Ab Toning Yoga Poses
A strong core goes a long way in your yoga practice. Tone your core by trying these yoga poses:
This strong posture not only works your core but your upper body as well. If the full posture is a little too intense, you can always practice with your knees on the ground and work your way up to straight legs.
To practice Plank pose:
- Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Step your feet back behind you and take your knees off the mat.
- Position your body so that it is in a straight line. Keep your hips lifted, your legs are straight, and your heels up.
- Spread your fingers wide and keep your hands under your shoulders.
- Push the mat away from you and feel your shoulder blades squeeze slightly down your back.
- Draw your belly button in toward your spine to keep your core engaged and strong.
- Shift your gaze moves forward and keep your alignment.
- Stay for 5 breaths and work your way up to stay in the pose for up to 1 minute.
Knee to Elbow
Knee to Elbow Taps are exercises that you can take straight from plank pose. Keep your core and upper body strong as you practice these taps and take your time to build your strength up.
To practice Knee to Elbow:
- Start in plank pose and with a strong foundation.
- Inhale and lift your right toes off the mat.
- As you exhale bend your right knee and take in toward your right elbow.
- As you do this, try not to move your hips and keep your foundation in plank strong and steady.
- Step your right foot back into plank.
- Repeat on the left side.
- Practice 3 sets on each side and work up to 6 sets on each side.
Arm Toning Yoga Poses
Want to learn to practice arm balances? Tone and strengthen your arms with the following yoga poses and you will be flying in no time!
Like plank pose, side plank tones and strengthens not only your core but your upper body and arms as well. If you would like to modify this pose, place a knee down on the mat instead of straightening both of your legs.
To practice Side Plank pose:
- Start in plank pose.
- Step your feet together and take your right palm to the center of the mat.
- Rotate to the outside of your right foot and stack your left foot on top of your right foot.
- Flex your feet and keep your legs straight and strong.
- Lift your left arm up toward the ceiling and stack your hips.
- Your left arm should be in line with your right.
- Shift your gaze to look up to your left hand.
- Keep your body in one straight line as you hold the pose for 5-10 breaths.
- Take your left hand down on the mat, reset in plank pose and repeat on the opposite side.
Chaturanga or Modified Chaturanga
It can take years to practice chaturanga with the proper alignment, but that doesn’t mean that you need to shy away from it. This posture is wonderful for building arm and upper body strength and can always be practiced with your knees on the mat for a modified variation.
To practice Chaturanga:
- Start in plank pose.
- Shift your weight slightly forward so that your shoulders come over your hands and you are on the tips of your toes.
- Bend your elbows and at a 45-degree angle and hug your elbows in close to the sides of your body.
- Lower halfway down keeping your core strong and engaged and your body in one straight line.
- Lower your knees down to modify and build strength.
- From your Chaturanga, you can push yourself back up into plank pose, or into your upward-facing dog.
Ready to ditch your receptive weight lifting exercises and sweaty gym sessions? An active and consistent yoga practice can not only tone your body, but can improve help you feel more calm, centered, and grounded. Yoga is a holistic and whole-body practice. While your intentions may be to tone your body, you will soon see the many benefits that the practice has not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually. Get on your mat today!