Do you remember having a favorite outfit as a kid? A prized article of clothing (perhaps a party dress or Little League jersey) that you would have worn every day of your life if possible?
Mine was a Miss Piggy bathing suit. I wore it all the time. I wore it to the beach. I wore it while jumping through the sprinkler. I wore it around the house in the middle of winter. For me, happiness and high fashion were captured by a pig wearing pearls and a boa.
Stories of women (young or old) enthusiastically wearing a bathing suit 365 days a year are few and far between, so I thought this one was worth sharing. More often, gals (and guys) are wary of stripping down to a bikini or board shorts at the start of each summer.
To help soothe the angst and slim your “asana,” here are my 5 favorite yoga poses for swimsuit season:
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1. Utkatasana Modification for Lean Legs: Traditionally, utkatasana (also known as chair pose) is done with both feet together and an upright chest position. The variation below is different, to inspire more dynamic action in the legs and additional length in the torso and spine. If you’re interested in really cooking your thighs, see how long you can stay in the lowest point of the posture. Be sure to breathe deeply using ujayi, which, coincidentally, sounds a lot like the waves at the beach.
2. & 3. Yoga Inspired Abs for a Strong Core: Many styles of yoga build extraordinary abdominal strength, among these are Ashtanga, Anusara, Forrest, Iyengar, Power, and Vinyasa. Here are a few of my favorite abdominal strengthening movements–ideal for developing the core power needed for many arm balances and inversions, protecting your spine from injury, and counter-balancing backbends (e.g., dhanurasana/bow, urdhva dhanurasana/wheel, ustrasana/camel, etc.). While getting a svelte tummy is no day at the beach (it’s hard work!), its benefits are both body-healing and eye-appealing.
4. Handstands in the Sand for Sleek Arms and Adventurous Spirit: Tis the season to practice your arm balances without fear. Grassy lawns and sandy beaches provide perfect opportunities to try poses that seem intimidating in a studio environment or dangerous on a hard surface. The added benefit is that these carefree poses make you feel like a kid while sculpting strong arms to boot.
5. Padma Mudra for a Beautiful Heart: With all this talk of looking lovely while wearing less, it can be tempting to believe that beauty is an external experience. Not so, friends. If being beautiful and thin made people happy, tabloid magazines and reality TV shows (which make their billions by cataloguing the insecure, neurotic, and ugly behavior of beautiful, thin starlets), would cease to exist. Moreover, the primary purpose of yoga is not to chisel your booty but to reveal your own inner beauty, in all its calm, confident brilliance. Padma Mudra is a nice reminder of this.