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1 year ago
7 Yoga Poses That'll Sculpt Those Sexy Side Abs

Crunches are so old school, and planks are effective, but totally boring. To get the killer side abs of your dreams, forget snooze-worthy, repetitive moves—and bust out your yoga mat instead.  (Tone up and chill out with our Flat Belly Yoga routine!)

Apparently, the trick to nabbing a not-so-common core may just be a regular yoga practice. “Yoga is all about integration and using your center line,” says Lyons Den Power Yoga co-founder and instructor Bethany Lyons. “All of the movements come from a strong core and solid foundation.” Try adding these seven poses to your weekly workout routine.

RELATED: This 20-Minute Tabata Workout Beats an Hour on the Treadmill

yoga poses for abs
1/7 Photograph courtesy of Alison Feller
The pose: Side Plank Curl

How to do it: Start in a side plank position, directing your focus to reaching your hand to the ceiling (A). Engage both legs and flex both feet. Make a fist with your top hand (B). Bend the top elbow, and start to draw the top arm down and in toward the body (C). Curl underneath the ribcage as much as you can to twist the torso while engaging the obliques (D). Repeat five to 10 times.

Why it works: “The use of your own bodyweight, combined with the twisting motion, is the perfect exercise to engage the obliques,” says Lyons. “You can physically feel the twisting and engaging of the inner and outer pocket muscles of the abdominals.”

yoga poses for abs
2/7 Photograph courtesy of Alison Feller
The pose: Modified Extended Side Angle with Reach

How to do it: Begin in Warrior II. Come into a modified side angle by dropping the front arm to the front thigh and reaching the top arm over your head, keeping your bicep by your ear. Create a right angle with your front knee, and make your front thigh as close to parallel to the floor as possible. Press firmly into both feet so the weight is in the legs. Don’t rest weight onto your bottom arm—just let it lightly rest on the leg (A). From there, extend the bottom arm to meet the top arm while engaging the abdominal muscles in and up. Then add a slight rotation, taking the bottom lung under the top lung, opening your chest toward the ceiling (B). Hold for five breaths or longer.

Why it works: “Feel that instant shimmy-shake and quaking of your body, from your feet to your fingertips? That’s the pose working,” says Lyons. “You’re adding instability when you extend your bottom arm, which causes your core muscles to work harder to create stability.”

(Tone up, beat stress, and feel great with Rodale's new With Yoga DVD.)

RELATED: Want Sexy Side Abs by Summer? This Workout Will Light Up Your Obliques

yoga poses for abs
3/7 Photograph courtesy of Alison Feller
The pose: Three-Legged Dog

How to do it: Start in downward dog, hands shoulder-width apart, and feet hips-distance apart. Take your right leg up toward the ceiling and roll open the hip so that your right toes are facing the right side of the mat, foot flexed. Press firmly into the floor with the hands and the standing foot, and then with control, bring your right leg on a right angle trajectory, toward the right side of the room, engaging the side waist (A). Bring it back to center, and repeat five times.

Why it works: “It’s all about the instability again,” says Lyons. “But instead of the arms, you’re extending through the legs, causing instability that way. Bringing the leg to the side forces the side waist to engage.”

yoga poses for abs
4/7 Photograph courtesy of Alison Feller
The pose: Table Top with Extension

How to do it: Begin on all fours, hands under shoulders, knees under hips. Pull the pit of the belly in toward your spine (A). Extend your right leg back and left hand forward. Hold for two breaths (B). Move your left arm to a 90-degree angle to the side (C). At the same time, rotate your right thigh externally, and move it to a 90-degree angle in the opposite direction. Hold for two breaths, then return to the starting position (D). Switch sides, and repeat the sequence five times.

Why it works: “This move works the entire core,” says Lyons. “You’ll strengthen your transverse muscles and your obliques—and you have to engage them to make this pose work. Otherwise, you’ll sink into your wrists and low back.”

RELATED: The 7 Best Abs Exercises for Fast Results

yoga poses for abs
5/7 Photograph courtesy of Alison Feller
The pose: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

How to do it: Come to a seated position and balance on your sit bones, lifting the knees toward the chest and pulling the spine in toward your center line. Grab a hold of the backs of your thighs to create better integration of the core, keeping your spine in (A). Now reach the arms toward the front of the room and clasp the hands together. Imagine you have an oar in your hands and turn to one side, bending both elbows, creating a circular motion with the arms back to the start position (B). Repeat on the other side, and do 10 sets.

Why it works: “The figure-eight twisting and crunching movement hits both sets of obliques—the inner and outer pockets,” Lyons says. “Plus, it’s fun to sing the song as you go.”

yoga poses for abs
6/7 Photograph courtesy of Alison Feller
The pose: Straddle Bend with Reach

How to do it: Take a wide straddle on the mat, feet parallel, with left hand on the floor (or a block) at the center line of the body. Lengthen the spine, reaching the tailbone back and the sternum forward to create length in the waist. Then, twist to open your chest to the right, reaching your right hand to the ceiling and plugging your shoulders into your back (A). Take the top hand and reach diagonally down to the opposite side (B). Repeat five times, and then do it on the other side.

Why it works: “It’s a combination move that strengthens the legs, glutes, and back, and all the core muscles attached to the pelvis,” Lyons says. “People think of core as just abdominals but that’s not the case.”

RELATED: 7 Tips for Crushing Your Next Megaformer Workout

yoga poses for abs
7/7 Photograph courtesy of Alison Feller
The pose: Criss-Cross Plank Sauce

How to do it: Start in plank. Take your right knee to your left elbow while lifting and twisting through the whole side body (A). Return to start and repeat on other side. Complete up to 25 times.

Why it works: “This rotational movement specifically targets the oblique muscles,” says Lyons. “Trust me—you’ll feel it working.”

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