Britney Spears, you make it look so easy...but we know better. While many of us turn to intense weight-training sessions to shape up, the Vegas headliner has a slightly different approach. If you've perused the just-announced 2016 MTV Video Music Awards performer's Instagram feed or hunted down her workout secrets,
You, too, can get Britney-status results...if you're practicing proper form. Even if you're a veteran yogi, Playlist Yoga instructor Nicole Sciacca (who has worked with Jennifer Aniston and Kate Beckinsale) gave a few pointers on four popular poses (two of which the singer demonstrated for Shape magazine) that you might be doing wrong.
here's Always Room for Improvement: Whether you've been practicing for years or you're newly minted, chances are you can always tweak your form. "Attempting perfection in your yoga practice defeats the purpose," encouraged Nicole. As Britney's toned abs will attest, if you want to see results you have to make it a regular habit. "I recommend committing to a practice four times a week if possible," shared Nicole. This way, you'll be more in tune with your body and be able to make slight adjustments for optimal results.
Upward-Facing Dog: No matter your level, you'll do upward-facing dog too many times to count—so it's important to get it right. Even slight adjustments in this back bend can help to strengthen your arms, upper and middle back and open your heart. "The biggest mistakes I see are students keeping their thighs down on the mat while straightening their arms," warned Nicole. The correct form is thighs lifting off of the mat, and the heart and breastbone lifting through the gateway of the arms—in other words, pull yourself up!
Downward-Facing Dog: The V-shaped inversion (which strengthens your arms and shoulders while simultaneously lengthening your backside, including your hamstrings and calves) is the pose you move into after holding an upward dog. "The biggest mistakes I see in a downward-facing dog are armed unengaged and out of the socket; that and having your hands and feet too close together," shared Nicole. To work it properly, make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart, your feet hip-width and that you are hugging both upper arms toward your ears, keeping the back of your neck long. Again, think of stretching yourself out here, too.
Navasana (or Boat Pose): For an intense core work, (sidebar: Everything in yoga works your midsection), this targeted exercise specifically engages your pelvic floor and abdominal wall. "I see beginners often rounding their upper backs and hunching forward when it should be the opposite," explained the pro. You might also be extending your legs too high or beginning too rounded in the upper back. "The toes should be in line with the eyes, while the legs are extended and you can always bend your knees as you progress toward straight legs," advised the instructor.
Camel Pose: If you want a deep, all-over stretch (this works your quadriceps, psoas, abdominal wall, chest, shoulders, and throat) go for camel pose. It's advanced but can be easily modified for beginners. "Tucking your toes under or keeping your hands at your sacrum (low back) is a great modifier," she said. On the other hand, if you can easily reach back and grab your heels, make sure you're not collapsing into your low back or allowing your legs to slightly turn out.
Britney, you did it again. Namaste.