Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness and nutrition courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
If you’ve never heard the words “yoga” and “fat loss” in the same sentence, prepare for a shocker: many new and exciting offshoots of yoga specialize in sizzling calories. Some combine yoga and running. Others dip their toes in the plyo pool. But pairing traditional poses with weights? Now you’ve got the secret to shredding fat while getting your “om” on!
Elisabeth Halfpapp, executive vice president of movement programming for Exhale says that while all fitness programs have their own unique benefits, there are numerous reasons why you might want to expand your yoga palate by adding weights. Not only will you increase your flexibility and strength, she explains, but “you’ll get chiseled arms, a strong core, and you’ll get a lot of leg work in.” Plus, you’ll challenge your body by working through greater ranges of motion — a bonus for those accustomed to standard lunges and presses.
Halfpapp also notes that since many yoga enthusiasts use the practice as their only source of exercise, variations that include quicker paces and resistance can also help them incorporate cardio and strength training into their programs. Talk about a “one size fits all” solution!
This series, based on Halfpapp’s Core Fusion Cardio class (taught at various Exhale Mind Body Spa locations across the country) combines the power of strength training with the fat-burning benefits of cardiovascular exercise, along with the flexibility training that traditional yoga is known for.
And what does Halfpapp say to die-hard yoga enthusiasts who insist that anything outside of regular salutations and poses is blasphemy? “Be open to possibilities,” which, ironically, is a common yoga philosophy.
Do the first three movements in succession, then repeat the circuit twice without rest. Next, move on to the Warrior Series, starting with exercise number four. Move seamlessly from one exercise to the next, working one side all the way through before switching positions to train the other side of your body.
End with a few deep, cleansing breaths, focusing on drawing air in from your belly.
Before You Begin
Put down those 20s: Halfpapp insists that two three- to five-pound dumbbells are enough to challenge even the most seasoned yogi or lifter, as the repetitions are high and the tempo is quick. Just starting out? Do the weighted moves with just your body weight. Either way, you’ll still burn 250 calories or more in under half an hour!
Part 1: Mat Work
Plank Push-Up Series
Start in a high plank position, with your hands just wider than your shoulders and feet hip-width apart or closer. Transfer your weight onto your right arm, turning your torso and reaching your left arm to the ceiling. Come back into a plank, perform a push-up, then come into a side plank on the left side. Go for 10 reps.
Tip: Can’t manage a regular push-up? Drop your knees to the floor.
High Plank With Downward Dog
From a high plank position, alternate bringing each knee towards your chest 24 times in total, then shift your hips rearward and raise them up towards the ceiling to come into downward dog. Your arms should be outstretched, with your elbows by your ears.
Tip: In downward dog, keep your legs as straight as possible and, if you can, drop your heels to the floor to deepen the stretch. Otherwise, stay on the balls of your feet.
One-Legged Downward Dog With Knee-In
Stay in downward dog and raise one leg straight behind you. Bend your knee and bring it towards your chest 10 times. Replace your foot on the ground to come back into downward dog. Immediately repeat with your opposite leg.
Tip: As you progress, you’ll be able to reach your leg back further. To start, keep your knee bent and reduce your range of motion. The only motion should be from your working leg — keep the rest of your body steady and supportive.
Repeat moves 1 through 3 twice.
Part Two: Warrior Series
Warrior One With Front Flye
From downward dog, step your right foot forward to the outside of your right hand. Turn your left foot out about 45 degrees, drop your heel to the ground (if it’s not already there), and grab a weight in each hand. Extend your legs to stand and bend your arms to 90 degrees, with your wrists above your elbows. Bend your right knee; at the same time, close your arms in front of your body to bring the weights together. Extend your right leg and open your arms. Complete 15 to 20 reps.
Tip: As you bring the weights together, squeeze your pectoral (chest) muscles.
Warrior Two With Upright Row
Rotate through your hips so you are now facing your left, and extend your arms towards the ground with the weights close together. As you bend your right knee, pull the weights up in a straight line towards your chest. Extend and repeat for 15 to 20 reps.
Warrior Two With Pulldown
Still facing the left, raise the weights above your head, keeping your elbows beside your ears. Simultaneously bend your right leg and pull your elbows down – at the bottom of the move, the dumbbells should be beside your ears. Extend your arms and leg to return to the start. Do 15 to 20 reps before moving on.
Tip: Contract your back muscles as you pull your elbows downward.
Warrior One With Lateral Raise
Rotate through your hips so you are facing forward again. Place the dumbbell in your right hand off to the side, and hinge from your hips to rest your right forearm on your right thigh. Extend your left arm towards the floor. Moving only from your shoulder, open your arm out to the side and up until it is parallel to the ground. Slowly return to the start. Aim for 15 to 20 reps in total.
Tip: Don’t hunch as you lean forward — tuck your shoulder blades down and back.
Switch legs and repeat moves 4 through 7 once with your left foot forward.