Abs are the gift that keep on giving. They give every time you take a step, every time you twist, and every time you bend. The ultimate goal is always to attain washboard abs, but in reality, abs are the key component holding us up, allowing us to move, and defining how others perceive us through posture and body language. Tight abs reflect a hunched over posture which leads to a whole host of other issues. Abs affect every portion of your spine as well as how fluidly you move and how much control you have over your internal organs. These 5 yoga poses for better abs aren’t just about better muscle tone, they encompass many more aspect of you body and are worth the 5 minutes a day.
5 Yoga Poses for Better Abs
This active pose engages your abs, thighs, and back.
“Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart, toes tucked under. Extend your arms out straight in front of your chest, palms facing down. Lift your chest and press your pelvis forward as you hinge backwards, arching slightly through your lower back. Pause and focus on opening up your chest while also keeping your ribcage down and your belly button drawn into your spine. Slowly return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Repeat up to 10 times (source).”
“This active pose uses your abdominals to shift your body back and forth and to lift and lower your torso, providing a dynamic stretch and contraction for both your abs and back.
Sit with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your hips, fingertips facing slightly into your body. Press down with your arms and lift your hips into tabletop position as shown.
Next, brace your abs in tight and extend your legs as you push your hips back until your pelvis is slightly behind your hips (without touching the floor), feet flexed. Hold for 1 count, scooping your abs in tight to your spine as you hold the position. Return to tabletop. That’s one rep. Repeat up to 10 times.
If this is too challenging, try lowering your hips to the floor instead of sliding them behind you to start (source).”
- Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you. Bend your knees, and lift your legs off the floor, bringing your knees in toward your chest with your shins parallel to the floor. Sit up as tall as you can, and take a breath in as you slowly begin to straighten your legs. Your legs don’t need to be straight since the action of keeping your spine long and drawing your belly in is what works your abs here.
- Hold Boat pose for five breaths (source).
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 faceup 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 (source).
Side Plank Pose – Vasisthasana
1. From Plank, shift your weight onto your right arm as you roll onto the outside of your right foot.
2. Keep both of your legs straight as you stack your left foot on top of the right. You can also stagger the feet one behind the other if that’s a better fit.
3. Lift your left arm up towards the ceiling and your gaze to the left fingertips, coming into Side Plank.
After 3-5 breaths, roll back to the center and do the other side, resting in Downward Facing Dog between the two sides if you like.
Beginners’ Variation: If the balance is too difficult, try these supported variations.
Challenge Variation: Lift your left foot, hovering it above the right. If you still need more, try full Vasisthasana.