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Sculpt and strengthen your abdominal muscles with specific yoga poses.
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Yoga is known to promote flexibility and relaxation, but did you know yoga can also build rock-hard abdominal muscles? Yoga practices vary depending on styles and ability levels so not every practice is the same. Most have specific asanas, the sanskrit word used to describe yoga poss, that engage your abdominal muscles and challenge your core strength. In addition to developing a flat stomach, these yoga poses for your abs also help prevent back pain and injuries.
The Boat pose strengthens your abdominal muscles while challenging your balance. Begin in a seated position on the mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lift your knees towards your chest and extend your legs out to a 45-degree angle, creating a V shape with your body. Extend both arms straight forward. This is the Boat pose. If the full expression is too strenuous, modify your Boat pose by bending your knees and placing your arms under your thighs for support. Work towards holding the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
The Dolphin pose targets your rectus abdominis, the deepest layer of your abdominal muscles, and enhances your upper-body strength. Begin from a kneeling position, place both forearms on the floor and open your elbows shoulder-width distance apart. Curl your toes under so you are on the balls of your feet and lift your hips towards the ceiling as you press your weight into your forearms. Move deeper into the pose by pressing your heels towards the floor. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and return to your knees for a recovery position.
The Plank challenges your whole body with an emphasis on your core muscles. Begin from an all-fours table-top position with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Extend your legs back, balancing on the balls of your feet and creating a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Hold for 30 seconds. Challenge yourself by performing Plank with one leg lifted and without allowing your butt to lift towards the ceiling. To modify your plank for a less-intense variation, keep your knees on the floor.
Active Cat and Cow Poses
The Active Cat and Cow postures strengthen your abdominals and release tight lower-back muscles. From a table top position, find a neutral position for your spine with your stomach parallel to the floor. Move into Cat by rounding your spine and pulling your abdominal muscles in towards your back. Release into Cow by extending your spine, arching your back and lifting through your head and neck. Return to Cat pose and continue to alternate for four to eight cycles.