Maybe you’ve been avoiding yoga because it looks too hard (“I’m not a human pretzel!”), or because it doesn’t seem hard enough (“It’s not a workout if my heart’s not racing and I don’t break a good sweat”) or because it’s difficult to believe that stretching can help you lose weight. But in fact, yoga is an extremely valuable slimming tool anyone can use (yes, even if you think you have zero flexibility): It helps you trim trouble zones, firm up all over, shrink your waistline and ease stress—all in the comfort of your own home. It’s so effective, fitness guru Jillian Michaels made yoga her workout of choice when she designed SELF’s new Jump Start plan. Try these moves a few times a week (hold each move for 30 seconds, repeating the series five times total), and get ready to Om your way to a tighter, lighter and stronger body.
BRING UP THE REAR
works butt, back, hips, thighs, hamstrings
Lie faceup with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Press your heels into the floor and lift your hips toward ceiling, clasping your hands beneath you. Extend your left leg straight up, foot flexed (as shown). Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat, switching legs.
works arms, abs, calves
From standing, bend forward and place your palms flat on the floor shoulder-width apart. Rest your knees on the back of your upper arms. Engage your abs and lean forward, coming onto the balls of feet (as shown). Hold for 30 seconds.
works shoulders, back, abs, butt, thighs
Kneel with your knees hip-width apart, toes curled under. Contract your glutes and press your hips forward as you arch back, lift your chest and reach your right arm to your right heel; extend your left arm up (as shown). Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat, switching arms.
works shoulders, back, abs, butt, hamstrings
Start in a push-up position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, back straight. Contract your abs as you extend your left arm and right leg in line with your body (as shown). Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.
works abs, butt, thighs
Standing with your legs together, reach your arms overhead, palms facing in. As if sinking into a chair, bend your knees (as shown) until your thighs are almost parallel to floor. Hold for 30 seconds.