Love holiday parties and getting all dressed up and glittery? Then it’s time to take the guns out! And by “guns,” of course I mean your arms!
Yoga is amazing for many things—yes, a calm, capable body and calm, capable mind, and it also happens to be the best shaper for your arms, I think. Here are a few moves that will get your arms and shoulders ready for their winter strapless debut. Do each pose once a day, three times a week, and you’ll be packing heavy artillery!
Down Dog/Dolphin Lifts and Lowers: From down dog, energetically reach your elbows toward one another as you simultaneously lower your forearms to the ground as shown, allowing your elbows to release shoulder-width apart. Pressing into your hands, simultaneously lengthen your arms, lifting your forearms back into down dog. Repeat 10 times. (If this is too intense, breathe in down dog for 5 to 10 breaths and then in dolphin pose for 5 to 10 breaths.)
|One-armed Plank: From plank, reach your right hand straight out in front of you, keeping your arm in line with your shoulder. Maintain a strong, steady core, and try to keep your hips level. Breathe here for 5 deep breaths, then repeat with your left arm.|
|Bent-armed Plank: From plank, reach back through your heels, engage your core, and soften through your elbows, reaching them straight back, until your forearms graze the sides of your rib cage. Stay here for 5 deep breaths. Lower all the way to the ground, inhale back to plank, and repeat 5 times.|
|Side Plank with Toe Hold: From plank, transfer your weight onto your right hand and the outer edge of your right foot, reaching your left arm toward the ceiling. If it feels good, try to reach your right big toe to the ground so you have the support of your whole foot. Bend your left knee and take hold of your left big toe with your left thumb and peace fingers, then gently reach your heel toward the ceilings, lengthening the leg as much as it feels comfortable. Breathe here for 5 deep breaths. Release gently into plank, then repeat on the opposite side.|
|One-legged Dolphin Push-ups: From all fours, place your forearms on the ground shoulder-width apart, tuck your toes, and lift your hips into dolphin. Take a breath here, then lengthen your right leg high to a dolphin split. Start to reach your chin toward your thumbs on an inhale, coming almost to a forearm plank but not quite since your feet are too close to your elbows for that. Use your exhale to lift back to dolphin, raising your hips back toward the ceiling. Do 10 reps. Rest in child’s pose for 3 breaths, then repeat with your left leg high.|
|Forearm Side Plank: From forearm plank, move your right forearm so it’s parallel to the front edge of the mat. Transfer your weight into your right forearm the right outer edge of your foot, reaching your left arm toward the ceiling. Breathe here for 5 deep breaths. Come to a center forearm plank and repeat on the left side.|
|Inverted Plank: From a seated position with your legs together and long in front of you, place your hands behind you, fingers pointing toward your body. Press into your palms as you lift your hips high. Allow your head to fall back if that feels natural for your neck. Stay here for 5 deep breaths.|
|Shoulder Press Pose: From a forward fold with soft knees, place your hands on the ground (or blocks for a slightly more accessible option) behind your heels (fingertips facing your heels, wrist creases in one long line) as you bend your knees. Make a shelf for your legs with your arms and sit on your upper arms/shoulders (you can slightly bend your elbows to do so). Cross your ankles, squeeze your thighs into your shoulders, and lift your heels off the ground. Breathe here for 5 deep breaths. (Need more direction? Check out my shoulder press step-by-step breakdown.)|
|Handstand Rocks: From a forward fold with your fingertips on the ground, soften through your knees and transfer your weight into your right leg, tipping your weight forward so your left leg extends back behind you. Press your palms firmly on the ground under your shoulders and straighten your arms. Keep the left leg lifted and rock forward and back, just starting to get your hips over your shoulders. Start to take small hops on your right leg. When you hop up, lift your left leg high so your hips are over your shoulders, and keep your right leg dangling down so your legs are in an “L” shape. Keep breathing though the entire movement, inhaling as you rock or lightly hop up and exhaling as you release.
See if your right foot wants to leave the ground as you rock forward. Rest your gaze between your hands or just ahead of your thumbs. Lift up in your belly as you rock forward to give yourself an extra boost to get some air. Try 10 little hops on your right leg and then lift the leg up so your legs will be in the shape of the letter “L.” Then rest in a forward fold for 3 to 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.
|L-handstand at Wall: Measure a leg’s distance away from the wall to determine where to put your hands. Face away from the wall on all fours. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the ground where you measured your leg distance. Walk your feet up the wall until your body forms an “L” position, letting your head fall toward the ground. Stay here for 5 deep breaths.|
Photos: Vera Boykewich