5 Ab-Solutely Strong Yoga Poses
Yoga is a total body workout. Each pose is designed to engage particular muscle groups, releasing tension, while building strength and flexibility. Our core is one of these groups – extending beyond our beloved abdominal muscles – it includes basically everything except our arms and legs. Supporting our spine and pelvis, our core provides balance and stability, and generates power so we can lift and move as a single unit. These five core-focused poses will ab-solutely make you stronger.
Try each individually or flow them together:
1. Cat-Cow with Abdominal Work
Begin in a tabletop position.
First, warm up the spine. Inhale to lift your sit bones, chest, and chin toward the sky, while allowing your belly to sink toward the ground (Cow). Exhale to round your back drawing your belly towards your spine, allowing your chin to drop toward the ground (Cat). Repeat for three to five rounds. Come back to a neutral tabletop position to add abdominal work. Inhale to lift and extend your right arm and left leg. Exhale to pull your elbow toward your knee underneath your torso as you round into Cat. Inhale and extend your arm and leg back out. Repeat three to five times, then switch sides.
"If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you."
2. Dolphin Plank
Begin in a tabletop position.
Lower onto your elbows and firmly press your inner forearms against the ground. Keeping your shoulders directly over your elbows, step your feet back so your torso is parallel to the floor. Gazing down at the ground, engage your abdominals, spread your shoulder blades away from your spine, and reach through your heels. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute. For an added challenge, keep your pelvis neutral and lift one leg, hold for five breaths, then lower. Repeat with the opposite leg.
3. Down Dog with Abdominal Work
Begin in upside-down “V” shape (Down Dog).
Inhale to lift your right leg high. Exhale to shift your body forward while also drawing your knee in toward your nose, hugging navel to spine and rounding your upper back. Inhale to send your right leg back up. Exhale and bring your knee in to tap your right elbow. Inhale your leg back high, then exhale to cross your torso and tap the left elbow. Inhale your leg high once more, then exhale back to Down Dog. Repeat with the left leg.
4. Boat Pose
Begin in a seated position with knees bent and feet planted on the ground.
Gently holding the back of your thighs, lean back drawing your feet up and shins parallel to the ground. Inhale to lengthen through your spine and engage your abdominals. Exhale to extend legs fully straight, or remain with shins parallel to the floor. You can continue holding onto the backs of your thighs or let go, extending your arms out parallel to your legs. Engage your fingers and toes, and keep your chin lifted. Hold here for five to ten breaths.
5. Flying Locust Pose
Begin lying face-down on the ground, arms extended in front and legs extended behind.
Take one full inhale and exhale. On your next inhale, lift up your head, chest, arms and legs off the ground using power from your lower, middle, and upper back. Concentrate on lengthening your spine rather than how high you can lift. Keep your gaze forward so you do not compress your neck. Hold for five to ten breaths, then exhale and slowly lower. You can also alternate lifting opposite arms and legs. This is a perfect counter-core pose to all the others that target the abdominals.
Core Value? Our body. Yoga allows us to challenge and strengthen it simply by using our own weight. Just remember to breathe.