Baba Ramdev may be the closest thing to a rock star that yoga has. Several fan sites -- like Yogagururamdev.com -- rehash his upbringing in India, his early emersion in monastic life, how yoga helped him recover from partial paralysis, how he has thousands of fans who follow him from yoga camp to yoga camp and how his difficult poses, or Asanas, and intricate breath work have provided relief to men and women living with AIDS. For a Swami like Ramdev, targeting flabby arms is just another day Pranayama, or the letting go of stress and anxiety.
A host of poses can help strengthen and tone your arms, including Downward Dog and Plank poses, each of which will also target your abdominals, calves and forearms. In Downward Dog, you balance on your hands and feet while lifting your hips as high as they can go until your body resembles an upside-down "V." In Plank pose, you balance on your hands and toes, lengthening your body between these two points. Baba Ramdev suggests holding poses as long as you can, even if that is more than the number of breaths your instructor suggests.
As your yoga practice deepens, Baba Ramdev teachings suggest your poses deepen as well, from intensifying beginner poses to trying poses that seemed impossible when you started, such as Dolphin plank and Crane pose, so named for the animals the poses resemble. In Dolphin plank, you balance on your forearms and toes, keeping your body lean and long, just like you do in Plank pose. The tighter your abs, the more stable you will be. Try holding the pose for between five and seven breaths before transitioning to Downward Dog pose. Consider successfully holding Dolphin pose for two or three minutes before trying Crane pose, which ends with you balancing your thighs on your bent arms and using your hands as your feet.
The most advanced yoga arm-centric poses are headstands and handstands. Both poses require a strong core and existing arm strength, and you can do both against a wall, which can help you balance. In a headstand, you balance on your hands, which are cupped gently around the top of your head while your legs extend above you. In a handstand, you keep your head and shoulders away from your hands while extending your legs above you. These poses are the only yogic poses that end with your heart above your head.
Keep in Mind
Yoga alone won't cause you to lose weight and get toned, but it will help in conjunction with cardiovascular activity and a healthy diet. The more weight you lose and strength you build, the more toned you will look. And before starting a yoga practice, ask your doctor if it is right for you. Baba Ramdev would tell you to jump in feet first, eyes closed and trust the universe to catch you. But the truth is a yoga practice will teach you how to catch yourself.
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.