Yoga is a known stress buster, but it’s also one of the most effective workouts for fighting stubborn fat stores, especially the ones that crop up after age 40. The reason: Studies show that it lowers levels of stress hormones and increases insulin sensitivity — a signal to your body to burn food as fuel rather than store it as fat. The following workout will do just that while firming up your arms, legs, butt, and abs. Start now to see results in as little as 3 weeks.
Workout at a glance
What you need: A yoga mat or carpeted space
How to do it: Follow this routine at least 3 times a week, holding each move 1 time for 3 to 5 deep breaths, unless otherwise noted. Start with the Main Move for each exercise. If it’s too difficult, do the Make It Easier variation. If it’s not challenging enough, try the Make It Harder option.
For faster results: Hold each pose for 5 to 8 breaths and increase repetitions (where noted) by 2 or 3.
MAIN MOVE: Crescent (Firms abs, hips, and thighs)
Stand with feet together, toes forward, and arms at sides. Inhale and raise arms overhead, reaching fingertips toward ceiling. Exhale, and bend forward from hips, bringing hands to floor (it’s okay to bend knees). Inhale, and as you exhale, step right leg back into a lunge (left knee bent about 90 degrees, knee over ankle; right leg extended and on ball of foot). Inhale and raise arms overhead; gaze forward. Hold, then return to standing and repeat, stepping left leg back.
Make it Harder: From end position, inhale and arch torso, arms, and head backward, gazing at fingertips.
Make it Easier: Lower right knee to touch floor as you step back into a lunge, and rest hands on left thigh.
MAIN MOVE: Willow (Firms sides of abs)
Stand with feet together, arms at sides. Place sole of left foot on inside of right thigh, knee bent to side. Touch palms in front of chest for 2 breaths. On third inhale, extend arms up, fingertips toward ceiling. Exhale, and on the inhale, bend torso to left. Inhale and straighten. Repeat 3 to 5 times, pressing foot into thigh; switch sides.
Make it Easier: Keep left foot on calf or touch toes to floor for balance.
Make it Harder: Close eyes as you balance and bend.