Summer is coming (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere of planet Earth) and you want to feel completely confident in your swimwear. No worries – Yoga will help you firm and flatten those abdominals of yours. Let me just say here first, though, that I genuinely feel that you are perfect just the way you are. But if it makes you feel better within yourself, I’m all for it!
It’s From Within, Too.
Now, you have to fully play your part as well. No amount of exercise or Yoga alone is so magical that it totally transforms you – you have to meet it halfway. You need to nurture your body from the inside out. It’s not only applicable to philosophy – change comes from within. If you promise to replace the bags of processed snacks for plenty of water and power-packed goodness (like these healthy apple and berry fruit bars for example), then I promise you that these Yoga Asanas will make you proud exposing your fit and fab figure.
So… do you pinky-promise? Great, let’s get started!
Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
Surya Namaskar is a series of 12 Yoga poses performed in sequence to capture the energy and qualities of the Sun. It gives the entire body a stretch and tones all muscle groups. Each of the 12 steps activates the abdominal region. Practice Surya Namaskar 12 times (6 times on each side alternating between your right and left legs) daily, preferably at sunrise, to reap all of its powerful benefits!
Step 1: Stand with your feet pressing firmly into the ground and your palms together at your heart center.
Step 2: Inhale and bring your arms out and up, place your palms together above your head and lean back.
Step 3: Dive forward with an exhale and a straight spine to place your hands on either side of your feet. Bring your stomach to rest against your thighs and your forehead onto your shins if you can.
Step 4: Inhale and lift your head to look forward with a straight spine and then bring your right leg back for a lunge.
Step 5: Bring your left leg back by your right leg to come into a straight plank position.
Step 6: Exhale as you lower your knees, chest and chin down to the ground to flow into step seven.
Step 7: Inhale as you slide forward and up into Cobra or Upward Facing Dog.
For Cobra – Keep your forearms on the ground and look up toward the sky as you use the muscles in your lower back and abs to bend yourself backward.
For Upward-Facing Dog – Place your palms into the ground and raise yourself up and back with straight arms, again activating the lower back and abs.
Step 8: Exhale as you lift your hips up and back toward the sky while at the same time rooting your hands into the ground for Downward-Facing Dog. You should feel a great opposing stretch in the spine and hamstrings.
Step 9: Inhale and bring the right foot forward into a lunge as you look ahead.
Step 10: Bring the left foot by the right as you let out an exhale and fold forward into yourself.
Step 11: With a straight spine, inhale as you rise up, bring your palms together above your head and lean back.
Step 12: Stand in a tall and stable pose with your hands at your chest.
Repeat steps 1-12 alternating between the right and left legs for a total of six rounds on each side.
Marjariasana (Cat and Cow Pose)
With your palms firmly pressing into the ground shoulder distance apart and your knees hip distance apart, bring your back to a flat tabletop position. As you inhale, drop the navel, arch the spine and look upward. With an exhale, draw the navel up, curve the spine and bring the head down to look at your navel. Repeat, continuously flowing with your breath. This is great for opening up the spine and warming up the abdominals.
Chakravakasana (Sunbird Pose)
Remain on your hands and knees in a flat tabletop position. Extend your right leg and left arm straight out and hold this pose as long as you can using your core to keep the integrity of your posture. Hold this pose as long as you can on each side. Slowly come into Utthita Balasana (Extended Child’s Pose) when you’re done to give your body a bit of rest.
Naukasana (Boat Pose)
Sit with a tall and erect spine. Your legs should be flat on the ground with your feet together. Bring your arms straight out ahead and lift your legs up to create somewhat of a “V” shape with your body. Gaze ahead and stay focused! Are you shaking? – This is actually a good thing; it’s the toxins leaving your body and your muscles toning. The longer you hold this pose, the more you activate the abdominals, so push it for as long as you possibly can! Eventually, all of that toning will birth beautiful abs and a steady Naukasana, which you can hold for 90 seconds (or more) for better results.
Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)
Now let’s stretch those fired-up abs with a full wheel. Laying flat on your back, bring your feet directly under your knees and place your hands just above the shoulders. As you exhale, come to the top of your headfirst and then push the hips up into the sky when you’re ready. Gaze between your hands and keep breathing. This is a great stretch for the abs and spine. You can lift the right leg straight up, then switch and bring the left leg up for an extra kick! Again, the longer you hold this pose, the more you burn.
Keep It Up
There are a plethora of Yoga poses that activate the abs but I have personally found these to be the most effective. For optimal results, make these Asanas your new best friends. Make your practice a daily ritual (and don’t forget to pass on the processed junk) for amazingly awesome abs.