Yoga works your whole body-mind, body, and spirit. These poses will engage your abs as well as help you feel relaxed and renewed. Stretches that elongate your abdominals will help create that strong, lean middle. Doing yoga regularly will improve your flexibility, posture, and strength, while giving you that fringe benefit you’re looking for-sculpted abs muscles. Try these yoga moves.
Stand with your arms at your side and your feet hip-width apart. Your toes should face forward. Raise your arm above your head, pointing your fingers upwards. Bend sideways at the waist, extending up and out to your left. Hold for a few seconds and return to center. Repeat on the right side. Do 3 to 5 times.
Stand tall with your feet 3-feet apart. Turn your left foot out 90 degrees while keeping your right foot pointing forward. Extend your arms out to either side at shoulder height. Bend to your right at your waist, keeping your chest facing forward, and place your right hand on your shin as your left arm reaches up. Your eyes should look skyward (if this hurts your neck, look down). Hold for 15 seconds and return to the starting position. Switch feet and sides. Do 3 times on each side.
Lie on your belly, hands flat on the floor close to your chest. Lift your upper body by pressing the tops of your feet and shins into the floor as you press your hands into the floor and straighten your arms. Breathe. Hold for 40 seconds.
Stand with feet planted, arms at sides and body in alignment (ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over ankles). Inhale and bend the right leg, pulling the heel up until it rests on the inside of the left thigh. Get your balance and hold this position, then slowly push arms overhead, palms touching each other. Press the knee back without moving the hips. Hold this for 30 seconds then switch sides.
Repeat 2-3 times
Bending Forward Pose
Sit with your legs together stretched straight in front of you. Point your toes. Inhale and stretch toward your toes with your finger tips, keeping your body long and extended. Hold for thirty seconds. Breathe normally. Return to the starting position. Repeat.
Sit on the floor stretching straight up through your spine. Bring the heels of your feet together, with your knees bent and pointing out to the sides. Let your legs open towards the floor to a position where you are comfortable. Hold your feet in your hands and slowly stretch forward.
Lower your head toward your toes as far as you can. Hold for 5 seconds then return to the starting position. Repeat 3 times to help open hips and warm up.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Rest your arms at your side. Using your abdominal, lift your hips as far as you can off the floor. Your head, shoulders, and arms should remain on the floor. Keep your thighs parallel. Hold. Repeat 5 times.
Lie on your stomach so that your chin is on the floor and your arms are extended in front of you. Engage your abs. Inhale and lift your arms, chest, head, legs, and feet off the floor. Hold for 3 seconds then slowly lower to the floor. Repeat 5 times.
Get on all fours and look straight ahead with your back as flat as a table. Exhale and arch your back upwards while tucking your chin to your chest. Inhale and arch your back downwards, swaying the low back as you look toward the ceiling. Repeat up to 5 times.
Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Rest your hands over your head on the floor behind you and raise your legs with feet flexed toward the ceiling. Use your ab muscles to slowly guide your legs downward. stop when you feel your back arching. Hung your legs to your chest again. Repeat. Build up to 10 in a row.
Dos and Don’ts
Do go slow
Using slow, controlled motions will ensure momentum isn’t at work, but that your abs muscles are. Zooming through the moves won’t ensure as much muscles recruitment or involvement. If an exercise seems too easy, check your form and try again s-l-o-w-l-y. Chances are a minor correction to your form and a slower pace will make a big difference in how effective the exercise is.
Don’t hold your breath
Your breath is essential in yoga and during exercise in general. Taking deep inhalations and exhalations will not only wake up the muscles but also help you stretch deeper when performing yoga. And your breath will also help stabilize and strengthen you for other core-building moves. Whenever you feel like you’ve stretched as far as you can or cannot do one more rep, take a deep inhale. Feel your muscles sink into a deeper stretch or help you push through one more rep.
In yoga, the mind-body connection is essential. Take a few moments to clear your mind and get in touch with your body before starting yoga moves. Take deep, cleansing breaths, and listen to your body. Only do a little more than you thought you could and tackle more next time. At the end of your work-out, use your cool down to close your eyes and connect within for a more peaceful, centered you.