Inner peace, reaching your toes, the chance to wear your yoga pants for their intended purpose once in a while. What doesn't yoga deliver? In case the mere promises of spiritual enlightenment and party trick-worthy flexibility aren't enough to get you on the mat, what about the lures of reversed aging, feeling good in spandex and exuding confidence on the Big Day? Enlightenment AND a yoga butt? Yes, please. Slap a cucumber slice onto that puffy third eye and prepare to feel relaxed, vibrant and healthy with a few simple poses.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Bring knees and feet hip-distance apart, and place hands palm-up at your sides. Lift your hips and continue lifting up the spine until you reach the base of the neck. Rock your shoulders underneath you to interlace the hands under your back. Press the hands and arms into the mat as you continue to lift your hips. Hold for five breaths, releasing the hands and lowering the spine down top to bottom, one vertebra at a time. Repeat, hugging knees to chest when finished.
Benefits: Tones butt and thighs, fights cellulite, corrects posture and supports a healthy spine.
Begin on your hands and knees. Slide your right knee to the back of your right wrist, bringing your right foot to the front of your left knee. Straighten your left leg behind you, sliding it back until you come to rest on the top of your left thigh. Your right heel should now rest between your left writst and left hip. Hold yourself up with straight arms as pictured to add a gentle backbend, or walk your hands forward and rest on forearms or forehead. This pose can be held for a few breaths to several minutes. Repeat on opposite side.
Benefits: Can improve sex by increasing flexibility and range of motion of the hips, boosts circulation in the groin area, provides deep relaxation and stress relief.
Lie on back with feet on the floor about hip-distance apart, arms along sides of body. Bend knees in toward chest, and roll hips up and over as you straighten your legs. Feet should be aiming over your head. Place hands on lower back for support with fingertips pointing up, elbows on the ground, and straighten your legs upward. Hold for 10 breaths. Slowly release the back onto floor one vertebra at a time. Follow with Fish Pose.
Benefits: Increases circulation to enhance radiance, provides energy boost, eliminates bloating and swelling, regulates sleep.
Lie on your back with your legs straight and palms facing down by your side. Arch your back to raise it off the ground by pushing elbows into the floor. Tilt your head backwards until the crown of your head rests on the floor. Use your forearms and elbows to support you, allowing only a minimal amount of weight on the head. Taking an underbite here can deepen the throat stretch. Hold for five to ten breaths.
Benefits: Prevents and reduces a double chin, provides lengthening effect to neck, counters curvature of the upper spine, contributes to healthy thyroid and metabolism.
Legs up the Wall
Sitting on the floor with your left hip against a wall, roll onto your back to bring legs straight up the wall and your back to the ground. The backs of your legs and butt should be flush with the wall. Gently flex the feet. Hold up to five minutes. You can even take this as your savasana, or final resting pose.
Benefits: Reduces premature aging, relieves insomnia and jet lag, prevents and lessens varicose veins, reduces water retention in ankles and feet.
While you may feel ready to skip down the aisle after just one round of the above postures, results will increase with a dedicated practice. Check with your doctor before starting this or any new fitness regimen, and work with a certified yoga instructor (ahem) to safely perform these postures. When your future mother-in-law asks what you're doing to look so good, just wink at her with your third eye.
Photography credit: Raftermen Photography