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Top 5 Yoga Poses to Get Your Shoulders Strapless Dress-Ready

Practicing yoga not only eases any pre-wedding jitters and calms the bridezilla that lurks within, but it also helps you strengthen your body to your personal silhouette preference.

While many people often link yoga with stretching and meditation—which are certainly part of it—there are tons of poses and yoga disciplines that can aid in toning muscles to give you a more defined look.

Studio or gym-based yoga classes, complete with knowledgeable instructors leading the way, are a great place to start if completely new to the world of Child’s Poses and Sun Salutations. But the great thing about yoga is that it can be done anywhere, anytime, all on your own. The following are a few great poses that focus on giving your shoulders some sculpted shape. Why shoulders? Well, for one, if you’re wearing a strapless or sleeveless gown, those delts will be on display for all to see. But the really cool part is that if you give your shoulders some shape, it actually creates the illusion of your waist appearing smaller. How can you not love a good BOGO (in this case, build one, get one)?

 

1. Downward Dog: Start on the floor with your hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Curl your toes under and exhale as you lift your knees off the floor sending your sit bones toward the wall behind you. Stretch your arms straight while lowering your chest toward your thighs. You should look like an upside-down “V.” Hold this position for five to seven deep inhalations and exhalations, completing three to five sets.

2. Dolphin: From the Downward Dog pose, transition into Dolphin by bending your elbows and placing your forearms directly on the mat. Your arms should stay about shoulder-width distance apart. Press your forearms actively into the floor and keep your shoulder blades relaxed and down your back. Inhale and exhale in this position for 30 to 60 seconds before resting on knees. Complete three rounds.

3. Side Plank: To work your shoulders and core at the same time, start in a traditional plank position, which looks like the top of a pushup. Your hands should be beneath your shoulders with straight arms, and your body should be in a straight line from your shoulders to your heels–no letting your belly sink toward the floor or piking your sit bones to the sky. On an exhale take the weight out of the left hand twist your body so that right-side body is perpendicular to the floor. Your feet can be stacked, or you can drop your right knee down to the ground for better balance. Stretch your left arm in the air from your side. Hold this pose for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Complete two rounds, each side.

4. Warrior II: Standing tall with your feet together and your arms by your side, step apart to about three- or four-feet wide. Keep your front foot facing forward and turn your back foot so that it’s perpendicular to your front foot. For alignment, check to see if your front heel is in a straight line with the arch of your back foot, and adjust accordingly. On an exhale, raise your arms to the side so that they’re parallel to the floor with palms facing down. Keep the front knee bent and think about sinking your pelvis toward the floor. Hold this posture for five to seven breaths before switching sides. Complete three rounds, each side.

5. Crow: This pose is an arm-balance posture, which means you’re working toward lifting both feet off the ground. Don’t worry if you need to keep one foot—or both!—on the ground as you build strength.

To do, squat on the floor and place your hands flat on the ground at about shoulder-width distance apart. Lift your sit bones toward the sky, then bend your knees and raise up onto the balls of your feet. Press your knees into the back of your triceps and shift your weight forward. One at time, carefully lift your feet off the ground, supporting the weight on your hands. Keep your core engaged to help stabilize your balance. Hold this pose for as long as you can, working to go longer each time you practice.

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