That dreaded cottage cheese on the back of the thighs is so frustrating for so many women of all sizes. Cellulite is actually just adipose tissue (fat) that ends up looking lumpy because it’s pushing against the connective tissue, which makes the skin above it crumple. One of the most effective ways for fighting cellulite is through diet and exercise. Strength-boosting yoga moves that target the thighs can work wonders in the war against the dimples—yoga tightens, tones, and lengthens the muscles making your skin look smoother.
Practice these three moves at least three to four times a week in conjunction with a healthy diet, cardio workouts, and lots of water, and you should start to see an improvement in your hips, thighs, and buttocks. Regardless, you will feel great and have more confidence in your swimsuit this summer.
One of my first yoga teachers swore that this pose was the best for fighting cellulite. Maybe because you have to tighten and tone your inner and outer thighs to hold this pose and really squeeze the thigh muscles firmly. You also have to engage your core end entire lower half of your body.
Start by bending your knees then crossing your right thigh high above your left thigh. If you can, double wrap the leg so the foot hooks behind the left calf. If this is too challenging, let the foot stay outside or even tap the toes on the floor. Wrap your left arm under your right arm and then press the palms together. Sit even deeper and squeeze your thighs as you gaze down the tip of your nose. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths, then repeat on the other side. This pose is also great for concentration and focus, which can help you make better health choices.
I absolutely love this pose for toning the backs of the thighs—it’s a hamstring killer! It’s usually in this area that cellulite tends to be most prominent. Start seated with your legs out in front of you and bring your hands about 10 inches behind you with your fingers facing forward. Press firmly into your hands and feet and lift your hips up into an inverted plank. Hold here for 5 to 8 breaths then lower down and repeat one more time.
Shoulder stand and other inverted yoga poses help aid the lymphatic system. I like to think of this pose as flushing out the toxins and stimulating the fatty areas to break up and move out. Start lying down on your back. Use your lower abdominals to lift your hips up over head into plow pose. Clasp your hands under your back and hike your shoulders up toward your ears to come off the back of your neck. Bend your elbows and place your hands on your lower back. Lift your legs up to the ceiling and engage your thighs actively to lengthen up out of your lower back. Keep pressing firmly into the elbows. If you feel your neck compressed, at all come down or use padding under your shoulders. Hold for 8 to 10 breaths (or longer if you can) before coming back down through plow and lowering to the floor.
Kristin McGee is a leading yoga and Pilates instructor and healthy lifestyle expert based in New York City. She is an ACE certified personal trainer who regularly trains celebrity clients in New York and Los Angeles. She serves as Health’s contributing fitness editor and is frequently seen on national TV. Her latest in a large collection of fitness DVDs is YogaSlim. Follow her on Twitter @KristinMcGee and like her page on Facebook.