Strengthening Yoga Poses

The Yoga Practice Makeover Proven to Shed Fat, Build Muscle

If you're looking to get in shape, Kiersten Mooney proposes the need for speed. And her yoga research backs it up.

For exclusive access to all our stories, including sequences, teacher tips, video classes, and more, join Outside+ today.

Recommit to your practice this year by forgoing the familiar in favor of the fresh. If you’re looking to get in shape, Kiersten Mooney proposes the need for speed. Fast forward your practice with her and share your experiments on social with #newyearnewyoga.

If you want to trim your body and tone your muscles in the New Year, simply pick up the pace! Power vinyasa teacher Kiersten Mooney and a team of researchers recently found yogis burned 100 percent more calories and used their muscles up to twice as much (40–50 percent more muscle firing) when they practiced faster Sun Salutations compared with slower ones. Mooney suggests first learning a new sequence at a moderate pace, similar to what you’d do in a Hatha yoga class. Start by holding each pose for 3 breaths and move toward a 1-breath-per-pose pace. Once you develop new pathways in your brain, you can build velocity with ease and safety, she says.

See also Ayurveda 101: 7 Ayurvedic Tips for Post-Holiday Weight Loss

“We love our yin yoga and meditation,” says Mooney, co-founder of Green Monkey Yoga in Coral Gables, Florida. “But when we talk about the physical impact on the body, we need intensity. Why do we do bootcamp for fitness and come to yoga for recovery? We can also use yoga as an optimal means of fitness.”

Speed isn’t just for athletes. People with Parkinson’s disease, metabolic syndrome, and seniors with a risk of falling also had great results with high-speed yoga. Plus, Mooney says velocity is a timesaver, as you can get a cardio workout in 20 minutes! Remember to employ ujjayi breath and keep your drishti steady.

Want to try it? Fast forward your practice with Mooney in this video.

About Our Writer
Rebecca Tolin is a San Diego-based writer, journalist and documentary filmmaker.