Yes, yoga brings about amazing mental and emotional benefits, but if we’re being honest, we all just want long, lean muscles and a super flat midsection. Ditch the crunches and let your yoga poses help you get there! Inspired by the recent Shape magazine video, these five moves target all the muscles in your abdomen and include a bit of cardio to burn fat and showcase your hard-earned, rock-solid core.
1. The Plank Slide
We all know a plank is the ultimate total body toner that blasts every muscle in your core, but have you tried the plank slide? Hold your plank like normal, except your hands are on your sticky mat and your feet rest on a blanket (*note: this must be done on a hardwood or slippery floor!). Then, use your core to keep your legs straight while sliding them up toward your hands like a forward fold. Slide your legs back to your starting plank position. It’s like cleaning your floor while working your core!
Bonus super challenge: try the plank slide with one leg up in the air at a time!
2. Mountain Climbers
Another plank-inspired move, but this time adding the heart-pumping intensity to help blast that pesky midsection. Hold your plank position, then tuck your right knee up to your nose keeping your back as flat as possible. Return to starting position and repeat with the left knee. Slowly pick up the pace until you are quickly marching or even hopping from foot to foot. It’s like horizontal high-knees! Start with 30 seconds of this and work your way up as your strength increases.
3. Dishrag Forearm Plank
Think we forgot about the obliques? Think again. This plank rendition is a killer for your side-muscles. Drop your plank down to your forearms–this means your butt has to get a bit lower, too! Keep your elbows planted below your shoulders while you dip your right hip down until it hovers over the floor and you are twisted like a dishrag. Return to center plank then alternate sides as quickly as comfortable for at least 30 seconds.
4. Boat Pose
Like holding the top of a V-sit crunch, have a seat on your mat or soft floor and lean back until you’re balancing in a “V” position on your tailbone: legs extended in front of you. Hold here in a perfect “V” for at least 30 seconds…keep breathing!
Super Bonus Challenge: “Row the boat.” I’ve created my own supercharged rendition of boat pose, adding an oblique twist during the hold. Keep the original pose, but clasp your hands together in front of your chest with elbows out wide. Twist to either side until your elbow is near the floor, and rotate to either side in a figure-8 pattern. It will truly feel like you are rowing a boat!
5. Scissor-kicks with a Twist–literally!