The abs are important and it takes a lot of work to get them into prime condition. Unless, of course, you’re a yogi! Yoga has many poses that are good for strengthening the abs.
After all, yoga is based on the chakra system, and ancient yogis believed that a very powerful chakra emanated from the solar plexus. They placed a spiritual importance on keeping this area strong. Here are some of the best poses they discovered for doing that!
Boat Pose (Navasana)
Sitting on your butt, position your torso and legs so that your body is making a V shape. Reach your arms straight out, parallel to the ground.
In Pilates, this is called a V-sit, and really engages the abs - you can’t hold the position without crunching them. However, this is a gentle toner, and you won’t notice how much you actually worked those abs until afterward, when they feel stretched and relaxed!
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha)
Lay on your back, knees up and ankles directly below them. Push your back from the floor so only your feet and shoulders are touching the ground. Lay your arms parallel to your torso, palms down.
This pose helps your abs on the outside and the inside - it helps stimulate your abdominal organs, which aids in better digestion!
Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)
Lay on your side, then push your body up with the arm underneath while pointing the top arm straight up.
Pilates does a variation of this called the T-stand, in which the leg underneath also props up the body. Both of these are great for the abs, but work different muscles. The yoga variation gives a power stretch to the muscles on the top side of the pose while the Pilates one puts a little more focus on the hips and legs.
Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
Standing straight, bend over and reach your arms forward, so they and your torso are parallel to the ground. Raise one leg and point it directly behind you, also parallel to the ground.
There are a few Warrior poses, and they all focus on strengthening the body. This one is all about the abs, as holding the pose requires you to really engage them. The movement of our legs is controlled by muscles in our hips that are connected through our abs. This pose demands concentration on these muscles in order to maintain balance.
Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
While sitting up with legs pointed out in front, arch the back. Put the elbows together underneath the back, with the hands under the butt.
We’re used to working out the abs by crunching them, but Fish Pose does the opposite. Giving the abs a good, relaxing stretch is just as important as contracting them and working them because is soothes kinks in the muscles. As a bonus, it also stretches the digestive tract in such a way as to soothe constipation.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Lie on your stomach with the tops of your feet on the floor. Push your torso up and arch your back, so your arms are straight.
Cobra Pose opens the chest and lungs, as well as stimulating the abs and abdominal organs. It is also helps stretch the back, contributing to good posture and spinal health.
Working out the abs isn’t as hard as one thinks, when yoga is in the equation! Try these poses, and with time and practice, your abs should look awesome!