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Poses for Your Abs

The Only Yoga Poses You Need to Build Strong Abs

These four yoga poses—coupled with a focus on stability and your breath—can help build core strength and improve your overall practice.

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Having a strong core goes far beyond a toned stomach. The abs play a major role in maintaining good posture, supporting your trunk as you walk, and keeping your body stable in yoga poses, so working your abs actually helps your body as a whole.

While there are many workouts that incorporate yoga poses or their variations for the sole purpose of exercising the core, you can get a lot more out of these popular postures when you stay true to their yogic roots. By placing an emphasis both on stability and your breath, the focus required to hold the postures will help you tune you in to your body. Plus, practicing these yoga poses for strong abs sets you up for success in more advanced postures and helps create increased stability in your practice.

See also: 7 Poses to Take Your Core Strength to the Next Level

The 4 best yoga poses for strong abs

Woman holding Boat Pose in a city park

Photo: Getty Images

Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)

Boat Pose is a balancing posture that strongly works your core. Your hip flexors and quadriceps are engaged to lift and hold your legs in the air, while your abdominals stabilize the pelvis and torso, keeping you from falling over while in the pose. The adductors are also engaged to keep your legs parallel.

  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle in front of you, feet parallel and facing forward. Rest on your tailbone and place your hands down by your hips, fingers facing your heels. On an exhalation, press down into your hands and rock back slightly, with your feet about 10 inches off the ground. Keep your back straight and lengthen through your torso.
  2. Begin to slowly straighten your knees, bringing your toes above eye level. Continue pressing into the ground with your hands.
  3. Here, raise your arms, keeping them parallel with each other and the floor. Roll your shoulder blades back while maintaining a flat back and torso. Reach through the tips of your fingers as you balance on your tailbone.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Woman demonstrating Plank Pose and Sukhasana, Variation (Easy Pose)
Photo: Patricia Pena

Plank Pose

Plank Pose is fundamental to a yoga practice and is often encountered during Sun Salutations. While you may be used to flowing through it, holding Plank Pose strengthens your abdominals, shoulders, chest, glutes, quadriceps, and back, making it an excellent posture for stability.

  1. Begin in Tabletop with your hands and knees on the floor.
  2. Bring your shoulders over your wrists, then step your feet back one at a time so you’re in a push-up position.
  3. Draw your stomach in and up and firm your quadriceps, bringing your tailbone toward your heels.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose)

This Plank Pose variation targets your obliques, the muscles on the sides of your core. It requires balance and strength, but practicing it will help you stay stable in other twisting postures.

  1. From Plank Pose, keep your torso steady as you shift your lower body onto the outside edge of your left foot. Stack your right foot on top of your left foot, and bring your right hand to your right hip.
  2. Turn your torso out as you raise your right arm above you, keeping it in line with your left arm. Press through your left heel to raise your right hip up.
  3. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, then repeat on the other side.
warrior 3 chrissy carter

Virabhadrasana III (Warrior Pose III)

This balancing posture requires your full attention to keep your core engaged, torso level, and arms and raised leg parallel to the floor. It uses muscles in your arms, core, and legs, providing a sense of full-body activation, which can translate into better posture and stability.

  1. Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), exhale and fold forward to Uttanasana. From Uttanasana, exhale and step your left foot back into a high-lunge position. Lay the midline of your torso (from the pubis to the sternum) down on the midline of the right thigh (from the knee to the hip crease), and bring your hands to your right knee, right hand to the outer knee, left hand to the inner. Press your hands into your knees and lift your torso slightly. On an exhalation, slightly turn your torso to the right.
  2. From the lunge position, stretch your arms forward, parallel to the floor and each other, palms facing each other. Exhale and reach the right thigh back as you press the left heel into the floor.
  3. Keep your arms, torso, and raised leg relatively parallel to the floor. Energize the back leg and extend it strongly toward the wall behind you; reach just as actively in the opposite direction with the arms. Bring the head up slightly and look forward, but be sure not to compress the back of your neck.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, then repeat on the other side.

See also:

10 Yoga Poses for Strong Abs

Need a Good Workout? These 10 Core Sequences Will Fire You Up

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