Tired of crunches? Flatten your belly with yoga. Almost every yoga pose engages and tones your abdominal muscles, says Kathryn Budig, yoga instructor and author of The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga. “Yoga makes your core strong by forcing you to be in tune with how it engages and moves.” Bonus: Most core work in yoga has the added benefit of simultaneously toning and strengthening the shoulders and upper back. Here, Budig shares seven yoga exercises that will fire up your abs and tighten your tummy.
Yoga: Boat Pose
“Boat pose strengthens abs,quadriceps, back muscles, and hip flexors,” says Budig. You can also modify the move to fit all fitness levels—feet can hover above the ground, be parallel to the mat, or extend into full boat, she explains.
1. Start seated with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lean back just far enough so your feet can float off the ground.
2. Begin to straighten your legs together so that your body forms a V shape, keeping your arms extended and parallel to the ground.
3. Balance on your tailbone and sit bones, chest lifted, and gaze forward. Hold for five to 10 breaths, and repeat two to five times.
Yoga: Half Boat Pose
Do half boat pose in reps — lift your arms and legs off the mat into position and then relax down onto the mat, says Budig. “It creates an awesome total-body tremble that strengthens the lower abs.”
1. Begin in Boat.
2. Lower your body until your legs and chest hover above the ground in almost a straight line. Keep your shoulder blades off of the mat and hug your thighs together.
3. Extend your arms and keep your gaze forward.