Getting a flat stomach can seem downright impossible at times. It can seem completely unfair; you try to eat healthy, you sweat it out at the gym and generally speaking, try your hardest to create the desired effect. But it just doesn’t happen.
It’s not through lack of effort; it’s because something’s missing. Something that’s absolutely vital for creating the change you need to get the flat stomach you’ve been pining for.
The following yoga exercises are going to optimize the effectiveness of your training time and set you up to achieve the firm, lean and toned stomach you’re looking for. There’s a “beginner” and an “advanced” version of each pose so that you’ll able to perform them successfully according to your own ability. After all, it’s sometimes hard enough to muster up the willpower needed to train in the first place, without having new or difficult elements to incorporate into your routine.
So grab a water bottle and a sweat towel, and put on your favorite yoga pants. It’s time to strike some poses and power your way to a flatter stomach!
1. BOAT POSE
This is a fantastic way to work both the central and lower abdominal muscles at the same time. The pose also promotes stability of your core muscles and the skeletal structure as a whole.
To perform this movement as a beginner, lie flat on your back, and raise your shoulders and legs off the ground until you feel tension, then hold the position there.
For a more strenuous pose, you simply need to raise your body and legs upwards until you create a 45-degree angle at the hips. Holding this position will work the lower abdominals beyond the beginner stage.
2. SLIDING TABLE
This is a dynamic pose, and it’s great not only for engaging your front abdominal muscles, but also for working your back extensors (rear abdominals). It strengthens and balances your core muscles making it an excellent pose for your posture as well as your waistline.
Start by sitting with your knees bent and your feet spaced shoulder width apart flat on the ground. Place your hands flat on the ground behind you with fingertips facing slightly toward your body. Push down on your arms and elevate your body upward so that it is horizontal with the floor. Your knees should be bent at 90 degrees (picture a “crab” position but with your hands near to your hips rather than extended overhead).
Next, with your body weight suspended, contract your abs and move your hips downward into a seated position while keeping your legs straight and stretched out in front of you. Keep your legs and bottom off the ground, but ensure that your heels remain in contact with the floor.
Repeat the above movement, but this time ensure that your legs are suspended entirely above the ground and have no contact with the floor throughout the pose.
3. STACKED SIDE PLANK
It’s also important to work the sides and the rear of your abdomen alongside the front muscles. Known as the obliques, the side abdominal muscles form an integral part of your structural stability, and working this group of muscles will ensure the stability of your core. While the Stacked Side Plank is considered to be an all-round strength builder, it’s also great for firming up your abs and trimming your love handles.
Start by lying on one side and putting your weight onto your forearm on the side nearest the floor. Place the blade of your foot on the floor and lift your body upward so that your forearm and foot take your weight. Hold this position for up to 60 seconds.
While maintaining the Side Plank position, raise your arm on the side of the body furthest away from the ground and extend it outward and away from your body. This variation uses the abdominals to stabilize your entire body.
4. DOWNWARD DOG WITH KNEE TO NOSE
Another great all-rounder, the Downward Dog with Knee to Nose will work both the abdominal and lower back muscles. It also incorporates some great lower ab involvement as you progress to the advanced phase of the movement.
With your hands flat on the floor, suspend your entire body between your palms and toes (think press-up position). While in this position, raise one knee toward your stomach and hold the position.
For a more intense posture, bring your raised knee forward to reach your nose. This progression will successfully work the lower and central abdominal regions in a more robust manner than the beginner phase of the pose.
5. PLANK POSE
A very popular exercise, the Plank position is one of the best all-round exercises for successfully engaging every part of the abdomen. It’s definitely one to include as part of a well-structured core routine.
For the beginner variant of the Plank, simply lie on your front with both forearms on the ground, and raise your body so that your body weight is suspended between your forearms and tiptoes. Once there, hold the pose.
There are two options to progress this pose. Firstly, raise one arm from the ground and extend it out and forward, away from your body. Or you can also do this by extending one leg. Both of these movements will allow you to target the stabilization muscles on the respective sides of the body more effectively.
By incorporating the above exercises regularly into your yoga-based core routine, you’ll acquire that long sought-after toned, flat stomach. Try following the beginner movements for a period of two to four weeks before upping your game and tackling the advanced phase. It’ll be tough, but provided you’re following a well-structured nutrition plan, the results will show in no time at all, and you’ll be wishing you’d started sooner!