Yoga not only helps improve flexibility and relieve stress (which studies show helps reduce belly fat), but your practice can also target your abdominal muscles in a much more functional and efficient way than any amount of crunches.
Read on to discover the 11 best poses for sculpting your abs while you find inner peace.
This pose will have your abdominals working overtime to help you stay grounded on one leg.
Shift your weight onto your left leg. Draw your right knee into your chest, grab your ankle, and press the bottom of your right foot onto your left thigh.
If you feel wobbly keep your hand on your ankle while it’s pressed into your thigh. If you’re finding your balance really easily, press your palms together in front of your chest.
Brace your abdominals in tight to your spine, making sure you can still breathe easily. Find a focal point and focus your gaze while you hold the pose for 10 long, deep breaths. Repeat on the other leg.
Warrior Lunge Twist
Not only will your abdominals help you to stabilize in this posture, but the twisting motion fully engages those hard-to-tone obliques too.
Bring your hands into prayer pose. Lunge forward with your left leg and bend your knee about 90 degrees, keeping your back leg straight.
Brace your abs in tight to your spine and rotate your upper body to the left. Keep your spine long as you lean over your left leg and press your right elbow into the outside of your left leg.
Turn your head to look up toward the ceiling over your left shoulder. Hold for 10 long, deep breaths and then untwist and return to standing. Repeat on the other side.
If you have trouble maintaining your balance, focus your eyes straight ahead instead of looking up to the ceiling.
Rock ‘n Roll Lotus
This fun and functional move strengthens your core by using it to help you ‘stop’ your body (much like it does in everyday life).
Sit with your legs crossed at the ankles. Hold onto the outside of each ankle with your opposite hand, and lift your legs off the floor, balancing on your sitting bones. Pull your abs into your spine and take a deep breath in.
As you exhale, begin to round onto your back. Continue rolling until your shoulder blades touch the floor, lifting your hips, still holding onto your ankles.
Keeping your abs in tight, rock back up to sitting, finding your balance again on your sitting bones. That’s one rep. Repeat 10 times.
Imagine you are using your abs as brakes to help you stop at the top and bottom of the rocking motion.
Downward Dog Variation
This version of downward dog keeps your abs firing both during the hold and during the transition.
Begin in downward facing dog. Extend your left leg up to the ceiling, pointing your toes. Shift your weight forward and begin to lower your hips into a plank pose but instead of putting your left toes down, bend your left knee into your chest, lifting your abs into your spine during the entire movement.
Press your hips back up and extend your left leg behind you as you return to downward facing dog. Repeat 10 times with the left leg, 10 with the right.
If this is too challenging, practice the transition from downward dog to plank pose until you feel ready to add the leg movement. [via]