Jennifer Aniston's perfectly sculpted arms are not the product of logging hours on the gym floor. She gives Mandy Ingber, her long-time yoga instructor, all the credit. We spoke with Mandy about her "Yogalosophy" and the exercises anyone can do to get, as she says, "a rocking body that's toned, flexible, and naturally balancing."
How exactly does yoga sculpt arms? Are there certain poses that get the best results?
"We practice a lot of sun salutes. Each time you do one, it's two to three tricep push-ups. It gives beautiful definition to the arms and shoulders. However, Jennifer and I both add cardio and toners to our regimen. My DVD 'Yogalosophy' pairs a yoga pose with a toning exercise to create a yoga workout."
Can you give us five exercises any woman can make part of her workout specifically to get toned arms?
"Sun Salutes, Crow, Plank, One Arm Balance and Table Top. [See below for descriptions.] Try 10 Sun Salutes. Balance in Crow for 30 seconds to one minute, three times. Plank should be held for one minute, three times. Hold One Arm Balance for 30 seconds, three times on each side. Hold Table Top for 30 seconds, three times."
Does diet contribute to lean muscle and toned arms?
"Absolutely. When I clean up my diet, my arms immediately become more toned, lean, and defined."
Your motto is "Having the body you want begins with loving the body you have." Can you explain?
"I believe in starting where you are. Once we have acceptance of where we are, we can begin to love ourselves right there. I have definitely been on the path of whipping myself into shape in that slave-driving, punishing way. But I get into just as great shape when I am saying positive things and loving my body right now. I think people get scared to accept it the way it is, because it means, "I won't change, I will become complacent," but my body responds to positive reinforcement more than the negative."
What's your approach to fitness?
"Be consistent. Move your body in any way one hour a day. Sweat five times a week. Eat mindfully. Treat your body like it is the love of your life. The body is a gift, and the best way to express gratitude for a gift is to use it!"
Mandy Ingber's Five Exercises for Toned Arms:
Start in Mountain pose, feet together. Exhale and bring your palms in prayer at your heart.
Extend and reach arms out to sides and up.
Sweep and hinge down, forward fold.
Arch up on the inhale.
Fold and exhale.
Step back to plank position, lower down and resist. Keep the elbows hugging in alongside the rib cage, using your triceps.
Arch and inhale, then exhale and press your hips up for down dog.
Step or hop the feet all the way between the hands.
Inhale, extend the heart, exhale fold.
Inhale, sweep the arms over head, and exhale, hands back to prayer.
Start with your feet hip-width apart.
Place your hands on the floor just in front of your feet, palms spread wide, wrists parallel to the front of your mat.
Hook your knees into your armpits, or just to the outside, and slowly tip your body weight forward until your feet begin to come off the floor.
Keep pressing firmly into your hands.
Once you are balancing, bring your feet together and up towards your tush.
Begin at the top of a push-up, palms spread wide, directly beneath the shoulders.
Heels pressing back with your sit bones aiming towards your heels and belly lifted upward towards the spine.
Press down through the palms, in order to keep the arms straight.
Hold this for 10 breaths.
Be careful not to sway the lower back. If this begins to happen, drop the knees to the floor.
Repeat on the other side.
One Arm Balance
Begin in Plank.
Bring the feet together.
Move the right hand directly below the face.
Rock your body to the side, so that you are balancing on the right hand and the outside edge of the right foot.
Feet are flexed and the underside of the waist is lifting up so your top hip is lifting up towards the ceiling.
Press the bottom hand into the floor so that you are not dumping into that right shoulder. Keep the right arm straight (but not locked).
If you are super flexible to the point of hyper-extension, stay aware of not locking the elbow.
Slowly bring your body back to the center and repeat on the left side.
Start on your tush and bring your hands to the floor, palms directly below your shoulders, and fingers spread wide and aiming in towards your heels.
Bring the soles of your feet to the floor, hip-width apart and close to your body, then press your hips and torso up towards the ceiling.
Make sure as you lift up so that your knees are directly over your heels at a 90-degree angle.
Relax your head back.
Use your abdominal muscles to avoid swaying the back.