Powerful abdominal muscles support your everyday movements, improve your posture, and stabilize your lower back. Plus, it also allows you to be able to move on to more challenging arm-balancing yoga poses. So, if you’re looking to give your core a workout, look no further. Check out these 5 yoga moves to develop strong abs and a strengthened core.
There are so many amazing core poses in yoga, but these 5 are my favorite. I’ve written before about yoga moves to increase your flexibility. Yet with these moves you will drip sweat after a few rounds! A bit of caution: If the reps are too excessive, try less reps and work your way up. Remember to breathe fully through each pose. You don’t have to be an “expert” your first time. In fact, with each pose I’ve included video demonstrations to master the proper pose and technique.
Plank (Phalakasana) is one of the key “asanas” (or, body postures) that help develop both your arms and strong abs.
Begin on all fours with your shoulders in line with your wrists and fingers active and spread. Engage your belly upwards as you extend one leg back at a time with your toes tucked and your thighs nice and flexed. Your spine is long and there should be a straight line from the head to your heels. Keep your arms engaged as you push up from the mat. Roll your shoulder blades down your back and lengthen your tailbone towards your heels.
Try starting with a 1-minute hold, but see if you can hold for longer than one minute. This stabilizing core strengthener will activate all the muscles in your core to help you hold still.
Watch the demonstration here: https://www.yogajournal.com/videos/plank-pose
An ab and hip strengthener, Boat Pose (Navasana) is more challenging than it looks. But the rewards of regular practice speak for themselves: strengthening of your spine, neck, and legs; along with improved mental strength by focusing on balancing.
To begin developing strong abs — sit on your mat with your feet extended in front of you. Lean back and find your balance as you slowly begin to lift your legs off the floor. Keep your legs straight, and feet pointed to the ceiling. Engage your abdomen and extend your arms straight towards your feet until they are parallel with the floor, palms facing each other.
To watch the pose done properly, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKWF7InnzOg
Cat Pose Crunches
A regular cat pose (Marjariasana) is used to massage and open up the spine. However, modifying it with a crunch targets the abs and also works on your balance and concentration.
Start by rounding your back in a cat pose, lifting your lower belly up. For proper cat pose technique, please click on the link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqnua4rHVVA
With your inhale, extend your right arm forward and left leg back. Exhale and hug into the crunch. Keep going one breath per movement for 5 rounds. Repeat on the other side.
Dolphin pose (Matsyakrida) creates strong abs while lengthening the spine and strengthening your shoulders – it’s great for building upper body strength!
Begin by kneeling on the mat with your feet tucked under your buttocks. Put your elbows in front of your knees, and place your forearms on the mat, interlacing your fingers where they meet. Tuck your toes and slowly lift your hips to the ceiling, straightening your knees and coming to the shape of an inverted V. Take a breath in and lift your belly upwards and inwards, and on your exhale move your body forward, taking your chin in front of your clasped hands. Inhale, coming back to the starting position. Repeat at least 7-10 more times.
For a visual example, please see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9qEcTjmA78
Warrior III Pose
This pose is another major balance challenge that keeps your core engaged the entire time.
Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III), is considered by many to be the most challenging pose in the warrior series and combines balance with strength. Not only does this pose engage your core and back muscles, but it will help clear your mind and improve your concentration.
How to do it? Shift your weight back into your right foot. Hug your left shin into your chest, then extend it straight back behind you so it’s parallel to the ground. Flex your foot and point the tows down. Bring your fingertips to the ground to stabilize yourself if you need to. Reach your arms out in front of you so your body is in a straight line from your fingertips all the way down your back and out through your left heel. Stay in this pose for seven breaths before repeating on the other side. If you need to maintain your balance, bend your bottom knee and work up to fully extending your supporting leg.
For a demonstration, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0K-Kuw6DOs
Please note that there are many different core workouts that will absolutely shred your abs. However, the above exercises are guaranteed to provide not only a great ab workout, but will improve your balance, concentration, and even your lower back.
Is there a yoga pose for strong abs that you would like to see demonstrated on our website? Please feel free to share your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to sign up below for our newsletter to receive more great posts right to your inbox.