by Amanda MacMillan, From Health magazine
One day you looked in the mirror and there it was—cellulite, creeping up on your legs and butt just in time for swimsuit season. Happily, there’s a speedy way to smooth those bumps and lumps: Yoga.
We asked yoga guru Kristin McGee, star of fitness DVDs MTV Power Yoga and the new Weight Loss Pilates, to create a cellulite-busting routine that targets the butt and thighs, the areas most prone to dimpling.
Understanding celluliteThanks to all those days spent sitting, fat pushes through weakened spots in the connective tissue beneath skin. But rebuilding muscle tone in those trouble spots and burning excess fat can help smooth out cellulite and prevent future dimpling, McGee says.
Do this 20-minute sequence three days a week—plus 30 minutes of vigorous cardio, four times a week—and you’ll see smoother skin in just six weeks.
Standing forward bendStand with feet hip-distance apart. Hinge forward at the hips, keeping a slight bend in your knees. Lay your chest on your upper thighs as you let your head fall toward the ground. Engage quadriceps muscles and slowly straighten legs, making sure your knees don’t lock and your hips stay over the center of your feet. Hold for 5–8 slow, deep breaths.
Chair poseStand with feet together, big toes touching, and ankles slightly apart. Bend at the knees, sitting hips back (as if into a chair) and lifting your chest up to the sky. At the same time, reach your arms up by your ears and lengthen through the fingertips, keeping shoulders relaxed and ab muscles held in.
Sit back as far as you can; aim to make up to a 90-degree angle with your legs (a shallower angle is fine—go as far as is comfortable) while keeping your back from rounding and knees from going past your toes. Hold for 5–8 breaths before standing up; repeat 3 more times.
Eagle poseBend your knees slightly and cross your right leg over your left leg high at the thigh, then try to double cross it behind the left calf or ankle. Wrap your right arm under your left and back over top; press your palms together.
Squeeze thighs tight and pull your belly to your spine while you sink lower, bending slightly at the knee and a bit forward at the waist. Hold for 5 breaths, then repeat with arms and legs reversed.
Make it easier: If double-crossing your legs is too challenging, cross just once at the thigh and rest your top foot’s toes on the ground for balance. If your shoulders are too tight to double-cross your arms, wrap under only and press the backs of your hands together.
Warrior IIIStanding with your feet together, point left toe behind you, tipping weight forward onto right leg. Continue to lift your left leg and drop head and torso until you are in a straight horizontal line from head to toe; keep hands at sides. Make sure your left thigh, hip, and toes (pointed or flexed) stay facing downward; imagine balancing a tea cup on your lower back. Keep right kneecap lifted (not locked) and balance centered midfoot. Hold for 5 breaths, slowly return to standing, then switch legs and repeat.
Make it easier: If balancing on one leg is a challenge, reach your arms out to the side like airplane wings to help you keep your balance. Or, hang on to the back of a chair or reach out and touch a wall. The important thing is to keep your back flat and your body in a straight line.
High lunge with a twistStanding with feet together, press hands into prayer position at center of chest. Tighten abs and lunge left foot back so right knee is directly above right ankle. Hinge chest forward as you twist, from the waist, to the right.
Rest left elbow just outside right knee, keeping hips level and facing forward. Look up past right elbow; hold for 5–8 breaths. Bring torso back to center, lift chest, and return to standing; repeat with legs reversed.
Make it easier: Keep your back knee on the floor if you’re wobbling around too much during the twist.
Cow face poseStart on your hands and knees, and slide your right leg back to cross over your left leg, squeezing high at the inner thighs. Open your feet out to the sides of your hips, and sit back between your heels. You will feel a great release in your hips and butt and a gentle stretching of the thighs. Hold this posture for as long as you like, at least 8–10 breaths, then switch legs and repeat.
Make it easier: Place some padding or a yoga block under your butt if you’re very tight in the hips or have knee problems. You can also come into this pose from a seated position with legs out in front; just be sure to cross your legs high enough at the upper thighs.
Bridge poseLie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on a mat, hip-distance apart. Press down into your feet, and lift your hips and butt off the ground. Push your shoulders down away from your ears and interlace hands under your hips, pressing fists into mat. Tighten hamstring, butt, and core muscles, and hold for 5–8 breaths. Lower slowly to the ground, then repeat 2 more times.
Supported shoulder standLie on a mat with a folded blanket under shoulders so neck and head are 1–2 inches lower than shoulders. Pushing palms against mat, bend knees. Lift feet, butt, and lower back off mat and reach legs overhead, aiming toes toward the ground behind you.
Bend elbows and place palms against lower back for support as you lift legs and reach feet toward ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds, working up to 5 minutes.
Make it easier: Snuggle your back and butt up to a wall, then twist around so legs are straight up the wall while you lie back on the ground. (Your butt should still be tight up against where the wall meets the ground.) Press your thighs into the wall as you keep your feet parallel and slightly flexed; hold for 5 minutes.