5 Yoga Moves for Flat Abs

Jeannine Morris June 21, 2017 How To

If you’re a yoga practitioner, then you already know that strengthening is one of the key benefits of the practice and that almost every single posture engages your core. Strengthening your core will not only give you a flatter stomach, but it’ll also help to reduce back pain and risk of injury, improve your posture, boost your balance and can even improve heart health. We spoke with New Jersey based yoga teacher, Kate Lombardo, to find out how to properly do the top five yoga poses for stronger, flatter abs. Check them out and trust us, even if yoga isn’t your thing, this round-up may make you want to ditch the crunches for a while.

 

Photo Credit: Kate Lombardo

Plank Pose

This pose engages muscles throughout your entire body with a focus on your abdominal muscles. If done correctly, planking draws all of your abs in towards your spine and fires up your core.

How-To: The key to the perfect plank is making sure your hips and shoulders are in a straight line. For many, this means picking your hips up a bit. Stack your shoulders directly over your wrists and bring your collar bones forward so the upper back stays long. Keep your neck in line with the rest of your spine. Then, imagine bringing your belly button up towards your ribs and your ribs towards your belly button, this creates the action of engaging all of your abdominals.

 

Photo Credit: Kate Lombardo

Chatturunga Dandasana

Chatturunga takes plank pose and kicks it up a notch. This pose activates the lower and upper abdominals with the added bonus of strengthening the arms as well.

How-To: From plank pose, inhale as you shift your weight forward an inch so that your shoulders come just past your wrists. Exhale while bending your elbows straight back towards your ribs as you lift your abdominal muscles in and up (just like in plank). Pause when your elbows and shoulders create a ninety-degree angle.

 

Photo Credit: Kate Lombardo

Utkatasana (Chair Pose) variation

In this twisted variation, not only will you reap the benefits of a regular chair pose by engaging the lower abdominal muscles, but you’ll also stretch and strengthen your obliques as well.

How-To: Bring weight into your heels by slightly lifting your toes as your bend your knees and bring your palms to touch at your heart. Knit your ribs together and slightly tuck your tailbone under to lift your front hip points up. Welcome chair pose. Keep hugging your outer hips together and on an exhale twist to your right and hook your left elbow across your right knee. Keep your spine long, hips low, and knees evenly hugging towards each other (without one coming more forward than the other). Take a few breaths and then twist to the other side.

 

Photo Credit: Kate Lombardo

Bakasana (Crow Pose) 

Crow pose is all about the lifting of the abdominal muscles in order to float your toes off the ground. The great thing about this pose is that even if you’re not able to lift all the way up, you can use blocks to help you get a full ab workout.

How-To: Bring your inner ankles to touch and come to a low squat. Spread your knees out wide and walk your hands inside of your legs. Plant your palms on your mat and bring your shoulders together on your back. Hug your knees firmly into towards your triceps and start to shift your weight into your palms as you bring your heart forward. Then, on an exhale contract your abdominal muscles and lift up through your back. Lift one heel towards your seat, lower and lift the other. Or, maybe lift both at one time and balance on your hands. (Tip: Start with your feet on a block to get a little more lift.  See above pic.)

 

Photo Credit: Kate Lombardo

Dolphin Pose

I tell students this is like the secret ab buster- it looks easy, but is a total workout for the core. By walking your hips over your shoulders, you put more weight into your upper back and arms, which forces the muscles of your core to engage in order to support the posture.  If you’re looking to flatten that low belly pooch (and strengthen your back and shoulders) this is the ultimate pose to do so.

How-To: From plank pose, lower onto your forearms so your elbows are directly under your shoulders. Press firmly into your forearms and spread your shoulder blades apart. Start to press your hips up and back as if coming towards a downward facing dog, then draw your low belly in and up and walk your toes towards your elbows as far as they will go. (Bonus- once you’re in full dolphin, take a breath in and on your exhale, hop back to forearm plank, then come back to dolphin. Repeat 10-12x for a full ab workout!)

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