Most people enjoy yoga for stretching, lengthening, and the calm, centered feeling you get afterwards. However, any yogi can tell you that yoga is also all about the core! From the moment you begin your practice, you’re encouraged to draw your low abs up and in to align your spine and stabilize your body. Most forms of yoga use something called “Uddiyana Bandha” or an upward abdominal lock to keep the spine strong and posture tall. While Yoga Journal describes how to practice the upward abdominal lock as an individual exercise, it’s also good to practice this move so your body can memorize the muscle action and use it throughout your entire yoga practice. In general, practicing how to pull in your lower absand back will help not only your yoga practice, but help you work toward flat abs and a strong core every day.
8 Yoga Poses For Core Strength
We’ve pulled out 8 of our favorite yoga poses that emphasize core strength and brought them to you here for your own practice. Try them out one at a time, holding each for 30 seconds. Go through the entire sequence twice; for moves that are one-sided, do one side the first time through and the other side the second time through. Once you have these down, try these and few other core poses in our 6-Minute Yoga For Better Abs workout!
Boat pose is a challenging position that forces you to pull in your lower abdominals to keep your legs lifted. Don’t worry if your legs aren’t perfectly straight—most people have tight hamstrings, which will inhibit this. Just extend your legs as long as you can and do your best to let your hip flexors relax to keep the focus on the abs.
Star plank is a great way to strengthen your obliques and lower abs while practicing balance and focus. To get started you can try practicing with your legs together in a full Side Plank, then work your way toward lifting the leg into a full star.
Related: How To Plank Your Way To Flat Abs
While a chaturanga (low plank) may seem very upper-body focused, it is actually your core strength that supports your body and allows you to lower down slowly without letting your back sag. Be sure to keep your spine aligned, abdominals tucked in tight, and elbows close to your side.
Bird Dog challenges you not only to hold your long leg and arm away from your body, but also adds the challenge of holding your body very still. This challenge can be met by drawing the abdominals up and in and keeping them tight as you breathe smoothly. Every time you feel a little wobbly or like you are tipping one way or another, draw your abs in a bit tighter.
Warrior 3 is a standing balance pose. This pose gets you to focus on lengthening your body and, obviously, practicing balance. However, in order to hold that balance steady while keeping your body aligned and straight, you must use a great amount of core strength. Draw your belly upward into your spine and breathe with a strong exhale.
Side Plank Scoop takes a basic Side Plank pose to the next level! Not only are you working to hold yourself up in your side plank using your obliques, but you are now adding the strength of those low abs (called the transverse abdominus) to scoop your arm under your body and add the rotation without falling over. To modify, you can either place your bottom knee on the ground or you can do it on your forearm if your wrist bothers you.
This is going to be your challenge pose! Crow pose is an arm balance move, but that doesn’t mean your arms are riding solo. In fact, there is virtually no way you will be able to accomplish this pose without using a significant amount of core strength. After bringing your knees toward the back of your arms, be sure to draw your transverse abdominus in before you lift your feet off the ground to get your balance. To modify, gently place your head down on the floor as well and practice Tripod Pose instead.
This will be a great pose to end on. You’ll get a great finishing stretch while also working your obliques by moving your legs slowly from side to side. You and your abs are going to feel strong, powerful, and amazing after this yoga practice!