The benefits of yoga extend beyond a zen mind—the practice can also carve your core and give you gorgeous defined abs!
Today, almost everyone you know does yoga. And why not, it is one of the most relaxing and refreshing ways to keeping in shape.
Yoga is for everything, and yoga for six pack abs is a reality. In fact, three-five weeks of dedicated practice will turn you into a believer!
1. Boat Pose
This balancing pose challenges both your superficial and deep core muscles, resulting in a chiseled abdomen and improved spinal stability, Case says. If your legs shake during the exercise, don’t worry. That means it’s working.
Master the move: Sit on your mat and extend your legs straight in front of you, feet together and flexed. Sit straight up, pulling your pubic bone toward your belly button, lifting your heart, and drawing your shoulder blades down and together. Then, squeezing both your pelvic floor muscles (like you’re trying to hold in pee) and your abdominal muscles, draw your belly button toward your spine. Bend your knees, lean back (keeping your back straight), and lift your heart so that you’re balancing on your sitting bones. Slowly lift your feet off of the ground, straightening your legs and placing your arms straight out in front of you. Keeping your abdominals contracted, take five deep inhalations and exhalations.
2. Fish Pose
This graceful-looking pose opens and stretches the chest and abdomen, while strengthening the lower abs and hip flexors (which tend to be weak in women), Case says.
Master the move: Lie face-up on your mat. Pull your heart up toward the ceiling, keeping the top of your head touching the floor. Then lift your legs off the floor. (It’s OK if your legs shake.) Pull in your belly button and, keeping your abdominals contracted, take five deep inhalations and exhalations.
3. Downward Dog
If your core is the last thing you think about working during this pose (and for most women it is), you’re missing out on its true power. By pulling your belly button to your spine and breathing through your chest rather than your belly, it trains your core muscles to act as a sort of deep, internal corset. “Think of how a panther’s stomach looks compared to an overfed tomcat’s stomach,” he says. “This move will help you look like a panther.” So, downward panther?
Master the move: Press your palms into the floor and step back both legs. Press your heels toward the floor, roll your shoulders away from your neck, and exhale. At the end of the exhale, pull your belly button in toward the spine. Keep your belly pulled in as you inhale, so that you only expand your chest. Keeping your abdominals contracted, take five deep inhalations and exhalations.
For the advanced yogi, this is perhaps the most awesome-looking yoga pose for abs. It’s basically how Olympic gymnasts perform those crazy slow-mo handstands, Case says. And if that tells you anything, it’s that you need to have a good bit of core strength before you’ll be able to complete the pose. If you have trouble, don’t get discouraged. Keep trying the other yoga poses Before long, you’ll be able to complete this move, he says.
Master the move: Stand on your yoga mat with your feet together. Bend at your hips into a forward bend. Pull your pelvic bone down and round your spine to touch your head to your knees. Keeping your legs completely straight, press your palms firmly into the floor, directly beside your feet. (If you can’t do this, step your feet out wider until your palms are pressed into the floor.) Looking between your fingertips, contract your pelvic floor muscles, draw in your belly button toward your spine, and squeeze your back so that you pull your pelvis over your head. Keep your legs straight so that your feet follow your pelvis until you’re in a full handstand
Here’s proof that sitting doesn’t have to be unhealthy (just be sure to practice belly breathing). We recommend completing this pose throughout the day in your desk chair. If you start getting weird looks, you can keep your feet on the floor.
Master the move: Sit on your mat and extend your legs straight in front of you, feet together and flexed. Sit straight up, pulling your pubic bone toward your belly button, lifting your heart and drawing your shoulder blades together. Tuck your chin just slightly. Then, squeezing both your pelvic floor muscles (like you’re trying to hold in pee) and your abdominal muscles, draw your belly button toward your spine. Cross your legs so that each foot is on top of the opposite thigh (if that’s too difficult, sit with feet crossed). Keeping your belly button drawn in toward your spine, take five deep inhalations and exhalations through your chest.