5 Yoga Moves for Toned Abs
"My strength comes from my abdomen. It's the center of gravity and the source of real power." - Bruce Lee
If you are a digital nomad, like me, it is pretty hard to keep the abs in shape. Let's face it: you are constantly wanting to try new and delicious food and sometimes working out becomes a last priority. You have work to do, places to see, and people to meet. Who wants to spend a ton of time working on the "perfect abs"? Any honestly, who cares? Having the look of toned abs is great, but it is not really necessary.
I love working on my abs for other reasons. When we strengthen our core, we are able to find better balance in our yoga practice and in our daily lives. It also prevents injury, as we build core stability and train the muscles around it to follow suit. Strengthening the abs will also assist in your posture, increasing the ability to sit up straight and lengthen the spine. Additionally, it assists in improved breathing (use of the diaphragm) and better digestion (when stretching the abs).
So, whether you are planning on hiking the side of a cliff in some far off land, are attempting to juggle two toddlers and a diaper bag, or just want to hold a better tree pose, working on our core strength will give us the stability and balance to do it all. And, hey, if we get flat abs in the process, cool bonus!
Cat Cow Variation
Starting from a strong tabletop position (hands under the shoulders, knees under the hips), pull the belly button up to the spine and press into the ground for stability. Lift your right leg off the ground and stretch it straight back behind you, pressing the heel of your foot away from your center. Keeping stability, extend your left hand out straight in front of you, making a long line of the body through the tips of the fingers to the heel of your foot. On an exhale, crunch together your elbow and knee while pulling the belly button up towards the spine. On the inhale, straighten back out, lengthening through the heel and fingertips. Repeat 8-10 times and again on the other side.
Alternative: If you have difficulty staying balanced, try keeping your outstretched toe on the floor. This will be less intensive than the foot being off the ground. If it is still feeling too difficult, keep both hands on the crowd and simply focus on crunching in the knee.
Plank Pose Variation
Start lying on your belly and bring the elbows underneath the shoulders, hands spread out in front of you. Tuck the toes and lift up into a low plank, pulling the belly button up towards the spine and lifting into the tops of the shoulders. Make sure the tailbone is not jutted up toward the ceiling, but rather tuck the tailbone under while continuing to engage the core. You have an option to just stay here or try challenging yourself by lifting one foot off the ground and then the other. Continue gently switching side to side, using the breath as a guide. Try holding the plank pose for as long as you can; maybe increasing the time each practice.
Downward Dog Oblique Crunch
Starting in downward facing dog, lift your right foot off the ground behind you. On the exhale, bend the knee and squeeze it up in towards the chest, then twisting over towards the left side. This pose engages the obliques, and is also great for a toning arms the same time. Continue moving with each breath - inhaling lifting the right leg back behind you and exhaling into the twist. Repeat this 8 to 10 times then switch sides.
Another option: If the twists are too intense today, simply crunch the knee in towards the nose on the exhale rather than twisting all the way across to the other side.
Boat Pose Variation #1
Start from a seated position with your feet flat on the ground in front of you. Lift your feet off the ground and bring your hands onto the knees, helping hold stability in this balancing pose. This pose is often called baby boat. You can stay here if this is already a challenge (and hold as long as possible) or increase the hear! On the inhale, extend all the way through into boat pose by straightening the legs out in front of you and lifting the arms straight overhead. On the exhale, pull everything back in to baby boat pose. Continue this movement about 10 times, holding the last extended boat pose as long as it feels good.
Boat Pose Variation #1
Start from the same seated position this time, bringing the feet as wide as the mat knees up towards the ceiling. Lean back into your seat as low as you can get keeping the back straight and engaged as you pull the belly button into the spine, lift one foot off the air, streaking it up towards the ceiling. Then switch feet continue tapping toes one. But then the other can make this pose even harder by keeping the feet hovering off the ground as you tap side decide.
Second option for this pose - Extend the right leg straight, letting it hover just a few inches off the ground, then lift the straight leg up towards the ceiling, continuing leaning back into the seat. Continue lifting the right leg up an down 8 to 10 times, then switch feet.
15 minute Yoga Practice for Abs
Here is a yoga sequences that brings all of these moves together, plus a few others in between. This practice is quick and relatively easy, so I encourage you to challenge yourself with holding these poses longer without the video to really build strength.
Get out there and power that core! Let's take the step towards more stability and balance with our bodies so we can keep the same theme with our lives.
In the comments below, let me know what poses you enjoy for core strength. Did any of my poses surprise you? Let's chat!
Namaste loves, Taryn <3
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