As we head into the fall and winter seasons, it’s easy to forget about working out our abs because we won’t be showing them off in a swimsuit as often as we did during the warm summer months. That being said, just because you’re not sporting swimwear doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t exercise and strengthen your abdominals and core.
Core strength is essential. Not only does it work toward creating those washboard abs we all want, men and women alike, but your core actually supports your spine and works to improve your overall sense of balance.
At this point, you may be wondering what your “core” actually is, and no, it has nothing to do with apples. Your core is comprised of three layers of muscle in your abdomen: your upper abdominal muscles, side/oblique muscles, and deep muscles. The deep muscles are the ones that directly affect your spine. If you’re suffering from back pain, your core, or lack of core strength, could be the culprit.
From sitting at your desk all day to supporting your upper body in general, your core plays an integral role in maintaining your back structure and support. That’s why it’s essential to continuously strengthen those muscles. And while we all want to tighten up our tummies, working out and strengthening our abs goes beyond just looking good in a bikini.
Today we’re going to be listing out some effective yoga exercises that target your core and strengthen your deep abdominal muscles. Whether you practice yoga on your own time or you participate in a class session, incorporating these exercises into your yoga routine will have a lasting impact on your body’s spine, balance, and overall structure. So continue reading along to learn how you can improve your core!
Yoga Exercises For Core Strength
Chances are you’ve done this yoga pose before. It’s a great exercise to target all of your abs. To get into this position, place your forearms, with your palms down, on the floor or your yoga mat. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders. Your legs should be extended behind you. Lifting your pelvis up, and come into your plank position. Your pelvis and extended legs should be in line with your shoulder. Your butt should not be popping up into the air, and your lower back should not be curved. Use your abs to create a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. You’ll be feeling the extension through your ribs and thighs. With an engaged core working to support this plank position, you’ll feel your abs strengthen all over. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to a minute, or longer if you want to challenge yourself.
This yoga pose is exactly what it sounds like: a plank pose that targets the side of your abdominals. But this yoga position takes it one step further by incorporating arm and wrist strengthening.
Start in the Downward-Facing Dog position. Shift your weight to one foot, and stack the other on top. Let’s say you shifted your weight to the right foot. Stack the left foot on top of it and then swing up your left hand up to your left hip as you turn the front of your body to the left, as well. Your body will be supported by the right side of your body. Your supporting right hand should be slightly in front of your right shoulder, not directly below. Strengthen your entire body as you hold your position — the supporting arm, your core, your thighs, and your heels. Lengthen through the crown of your head. You can lengthen the other arm (the non-supportive one) above, or place in on your hip. If you extend it above, turn your neck and gaze up at your fingers. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side. When done correctly, you’ll feel your side abdominals tighten and firm as they strengthen.
This yoga pose not only targets your core, but your hip flexors as well. You’ll be using your balance to engage your abdominal muscles. You’re going to start by sitting on the floor, legs and feet extended in front of you. Place your arms behind your back with your fingers pointing toward your feet. Lengthen through your back. Then, exhale and lift your feet and legs off the floor. Your thighs should be about 45-50 degrees to the floor. Try to point your toes and straighten out your knees if possible. Then lift your arms and hold them in front of you, parallel to your extended legs. Look forward while slightly bending your chin down toward your sternum. You should feel your abdominal muscles start to firm in this position. Hold this position with your arms in front for as long as you can. Then take a break and do it again.
This particular pose is great to loosen your spine, which plays a fundamental role in core strengthening, and incorporates breathing techniques. You’ll start in tabletop position, with your hands directly under your shoulder and your knees directly under your hips. Set your gaze directly on the floor beneath you. Take a deep breath in and on the exhale, round your spine upwards, letting your neck and head drop toward the floor. On your inhale, release your back into neutral position, or go into cow pose — dropping your pelvis toward the floor and lifting your chin and face to the sky. You can alter between these two poses a few times, focusing on your breath as you extend and loosen your spine, back, and core.
Sign Up For A Class At Love Yoga
As you can tell, yoga exercises targeting your core are simple yet effective. Be mindful as you switch from position to position to focus on correct breathing techniques. If you experience back pain in your spine or surrounding muscles, blending these poses into your yoga routine will work to alleviate the tension by strengthening your abdomen and core. Plus, you’ll notice a difference in the look of your tummy too!
If you have never done yoga before, sign up for a class with us at Love Yoga. Our classes incorporate yoga exercises that target your core, among other areas of your body. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, or you’ve done yoga for years. Our classes are curated for all levels of yogis, and are not segregated by your skill, but rather by yoga focus. You can find class descriptions and our schedule online. Your first class with us is free. See you in the studio!