Washboard abs aren’t possible without hard work, but if you’re looking for a strong core or a flat belly, these yoga poses and sequences strengthen and tone your middle.
Yoga is unique because your core is there to support you through every yoga pose. Whether it’s a standing pose or you’re in a seated twist, your abs want to join in on the fun!
#1 Yoga Poses for a Flat Belly
Since yoga requires you to use your core for every pose, gone are your days of enduring mind-numbing crunches.
Did you know, though, that crunches aren’t even an effective way to strengthen your middle?
However, the number one reason you need to drop these moves isn’t because they don’t work. It’s because they’re surprisingly bad for your spine.
Repetitive crunching puts undue stress on the discs (1), eventually leading to disc herniation or bulging.
Both of these conditions are debilitatingly painful and require months of rehab and even surgery. This sequence keeps your mind fresh and strengthens your entire body.
Don’t expect a ton of burning in your abs as you go through this flow, but be prepared to feel these moves the next day!
#2 Yoga Poses for a Strong Upper Body
Your core is considered part of your upper body, so why not work on strengthening everything from the waist up?
With yoga, you don’t have to dedicate each workout to one body part!
Plank pose is fantastic for strengthening your core, but you’re going to get lots of strengthening in your biceps and shoulders, too.
If you’re one of the many yogis who despise plank pose, maybe you just need a quick education on the benefits of the dreaded plank (2) to get you to do it!
Plank strengthens your:
After all, they’re doing a lot of work holding you up into plank pose!
Want a stronger chest without bench pressing?
Plank pose! Plank gets your legs stronger for fiery warrior sequences because it works your buttocks, thighs, and calves.
#3 The No Squats Belly, Butt, and Thighs Workout
Legs up the wall is a restorative pose, but some creativity spices it up and gets your core involved.
Engage your lower belly and cinch your ribs in like you’re wearing a corset to avoid putting all of the effort into your neck and jaw.
One of the reasons you feel back pain during poses on your back is because you’re letting your back arch which takes the work out of your abdominals and puts it into your back muscles.
If you can slip your hand beneath the small of your back like it’s a tiny little cave, you aren’t correctly engaging your core.
You’re using your back muscles, causing those muscles to scream in protest while your abs are like, “Hey, what are we supposed to here?”.
When you cinch your ribs in and engage your lower abs, your back should flatten all the way onto the ground
#4 5 Yoga Poses to Get Your Gut in Gear
Did you know a common cause of back pain is a weak core? Think about all of the things your abdominals help you do.
It helps you twist, lift, and bend. When your abs are shredded from a particularly intense ab workout, you will quickly feel its involvement in everything you do.
A strong core is essential in yoga, but the same can be said for your everyday activities, too! What are the signs you have weak abs?
Sometimes the signs aren't as clear as feeling winded in plank pose (spoiler alert: that never goes away).
- Lower back pain
- Bad posture
- General weakness anywhere on the body
- Poor balance
When you're doing these variations of plank poses, make sure you’re using your abdominal muscles to bring your leg to your elbow.
If you use your back muscles, your lower back is going to protest.
If your core is weak, it’s natural to use your back muscles to bring your leg forward. Cinch those ribs in, pull your upper belly in and up, and use the strength of your middle to shoot your knee to your arm.
#5 Flat Belly Yoga Sequence
Even though it’s established crunches aren’t the best way to get a strong core (or a healthy back!), there are still some crunch-like poses in yoga that make every crunch-hater cringe.
If you’re staunchly anti-navasana (boat), try other poses that require an active middle.
If you aren’t focused so much on the aesthetics of your abs but the power of your core, then start incorporating fast moving flows into your practice.
As you move quickly from pose to pose, you’re pushed into engaging your core to avoid sitting in your low back.
Sometimes tweaking simpler poses is enough to fire up your abs. For example, when you lower into Chaturanga, keep one leg lifted.
In your warrior poses, twist your arms into eagle arms and slowly lower your elbows to your knee, using only your core to power you as you move up and down.
When you link the poses in this infographic into a sweaty flow, you get the perfect mix of quad and core strengthening on top of your cardio.
Hold each pose for one breath, but make sure your transitions are fluid and purposeful. A slow transition with precise movements has more effect on muscle development than fast, sloppy ones.
If you focus on making your core strong, a flatter belly will come naturally. The most important lesson you’ll learn in yoga is the aesthetic of your poses or body doesn’t matter.
Your body is already perfect!
Instead of putting all of your efforts into getting a flat belly, focus on making your middle stronger.
As you get stronger, you stop worrying about how flat your stomach is. Eventually, you'll be glad your belly supports you throughout your day regardless of how it looks.
Also, watch these videos for Core Strength.