To relieve stress, lift your mood, increase your energy, and feel all-around happy, I recommend yoga. But that feeling of calm joy isn’t the only thing you’ll walk away from your mat with. The physical demands yoga places on your muscles also give you an amazing body — Jennifer Aniston is living proof. Focusing on strength rather than flexibility, these 10 yoga poses will help you sculpt long, lean muscles so you feel confident in your skin, even when baring it all.
Why it works: The Quarter Dog may look like a resting pose, but it’s a killer move for your upper body.
Get more out of it: To work your upper body and core more, practice hopping into Forearm Stand Split. Starting in the Quarter Dog, gaze forward between your hands, step both feet together, lift your right leg into the air, and practice kicking up. It’s OK if you can’t stay balanced — just hopping up will effectively work your muscles.
Why it works: Squats work your lower body like no other move, and when you twist to the side, it makes it even more challenging, which makes your thighs and glutes work harder. Actively pressing your bottom elbow against the outside of your knee also works your upper body.
Get more out of it: Make this pose harder by placing your bottom hand on the floor and raising your upper arm into the air. Holy thighs burning!
Why it works: If you notice a yogi’s strong, sculpted arms, I’ll bet money on the fact that she practices arm-balancing poses like Crow. This pose will also tone your abs.
Get more out of it: Honestly, this pose is challenging enough on its own, but if you want to go for the gold, work on straightening your arms. You can also practice slowly jumping into this pose from Down Dog — an awesome way to isolate your abs.
Extended Standing Straddle
Why it works: Extended Standing Straddle looks super easy, but holding your upper body parallel to the floor is one of the best ways to tone your core, arms, and legs.
Get more out of it: Shift your body weight forward into your toes to make your legs work harder.
Why it works: The Locust pose effectively targets your entire backside — booty and all.
Get more out of it: After five breaths, keeping arms and legs lifted, open your arms and legs out wide, like a flying squirrel. Stay for five breaths and bring your legs together and extend your arms straight forward (like Superwoman) for another five breaths. Your lower back, bum, and backs of the thighs will be on fire!
Why it works: Although it looks like a relaxing heart-opening pose, Intense East is one of the most effective poses to give you a round and sculpted tush and to tighten up the area below your bum.
Get more out of it: Challenge your glutes and hamstrings even more by lifting one leg into the air.
Knee Up Plank
Why it works: All variations of Plank pose work your core like no other, and when you draw your knee into your chest, you’ll feel your abs engaged even more.
Get more out of it: For a sexy, sculpted upper back, bend your right elbow and rest your right bent knee on your triceps.
Why it works: This variation of Side Plank is a total-body move. Each micro-movement you make to stay balanced on your hand and foot really works your upper body and core.
Get more out of it: Bend your upper leg and grab your big toe with the first two fingers and thumb of your upper hand. Work on straightening your leg, which will not only be more challenging for your bottom arm (especially your shoulder), but it’ll also increase flexibility in your hamstring, which may not make you look better naked, but it’ll sure allow you to be more experimental in the bedroom.
Why it works: This classic backbend tones your arms, upper back, thighs, and tush.
Get more out of it: To add more definition to your upper body, do backbend push-ups. While in this pose, bend your elbows and lower your head toward the floor, and then straighten your arms. Repeat as many push-ups as you can. To more effectively tone your thighs and glutes, step your feet together and raise one leg in the air.
Bound Headstand B
Why it works: Inversions work your core because it takes so much effort to keep your body balanced, but this version of headstand, where your legs are parallel to the floor, works your core even more. Bound headstand also tones your upper back.
Get more out of it: Instead of holding your legs in this position, slowly lower your feet all the way to the floor, and before touching the ground, slowly raise them up coming into full headstand. Continue lowering and raising for as many reps as you can, and your abs and upper body will be feeling it in the morning.