Yoga is an ancient practice that improves flexibility, lowers stress and increases strength. It also gives you a flat stomach and well-defined abs without the tedium of yet another set of crunches. Yoga focuses on posture and balance and gives you a core workout that sculpts and defines your entire midsection. While the following moves may seem almost too easy to work, when you do them right you will see results quickly. Yoga can be performed without equipment, though a mat is recommended and foam support blocks are available.
Cat Pose – Bidalasana
One of the simplest yoga moves you can do, Cat crunches your abs and stretches your back. You begin on your hands and knees, palms on the floor and arms perpendicular to your torso. Your knees should be even with your hips and straight up and down, not at an angle. Hold your head up and look straight ahead. You may be tempted to let your stomach sag, but when your posture for this movement is correct, your back will be a straight line and you will feel your abs tighten slightly to keep you steady. Look straight ahead and inhale. As you breath in, contract your abs and arch your back up. Let your head and hips tilt downward, until you are looking at your navel. Inhale and return to the starting position. Repeat this movement three to four times in rhythm with your breathing.
Torso Stretch – Bhujangasana
The torso stretch is the yoga move that most everyone has seen on tv or in a movie. Better known as the Cobra, this pose stretches and strengthens your abs. Lie on the floor on your stomach. Place your hands palms down on the floor even with your upper chest and just a little more than hip-width apart. As you inhale, press your hands into the floor and lift your torso. Your legs will press into the floor. As your arms fully extend you should feel your abs tighten. Breath in and out slowly. Start by holding the pose for 30 seconds and gradually work up to one minute. Slowly exhale and lower your torso back down to the floor.
Bridge Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
This pose is slightly more advanced. If you need to, you can place a foam yoga block beneath your sacrum to help support your pelvis. Lie on the floor, flat on your back. Bend your legs, with your knees pointing up and your feet flat. Your calves should be straight up and down and your arms should be flat on the floor, parallel to your body. While breathing out, tense your abs and slowly lift your hips as far as you can. You want your abs doing all of the work for this exercise, so keep your lower back as relaxed as you can. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, working up to one minute. Slowly inhale and lower your hips.
These are some of the most basic yoga moves that you can do to work on your abs. Most yoga poses strengthen your core, so if these are not challenging enough, there are plenty more that you can try. If you want a full yoga workout, you can find free videos online or try a class at a local gym.