You might not see them, but trust me—they’re there! And they are as beautiful as anyone else’s. The wildly famous abdominal muscles are a series of four strong, individual layers (rectus abdominis, internal oblique, external oblique and transversus abdominis). Each layer works together to either bend you backwards, forwards, sideways or upside down.
But, why is exercising abs so difficult? Although my personal belief has always been “abs become strong in the kitchen,” (meaning stop eating junk food!) a large part of losing belly weight and/or strengthening your abs is a fun, energetic workout that doesn’t have to leave you breathless or bored. A series of standing yoga poses can give you the muscle workout you’ve been looking for especially if you fire up your core.
Chair Pose or Utkatasana will work out your hamstrings and glutes; but if you tilt your pelvis forward by squeezing your abs inward you’ll get a full body isotonic workout. Engaging your abs in this pose not only increases your balance, but the contraction in your abs gives you a newfound strength and defines your abs over time.
Your external and internal oblique muscles can commonly be mistaken as the mean ol’ muffin top! Cutting through that muffin can be done in a yoga pose called Vasisthasana better known as Plank Pose. Starting on your right side, flex your feet, straighten your legs and stack you elbow on top of your shoulder. To move your hips higher contract your side tummy muscles. Try pulsing your hips up and down five times on either side.
The more you flex your stomach muscles the more you can raise your hips higher.
Another pose for a well-rounded ab workout is reverse warrior. From Warrior I (right leg lunge, with left foot at 10:30) your hands are extended up above you. To reverse your Warrior, squeeze your abs and lift yourself up and lead back with your chest. If you feel your lower back crunching you’re not doing it right. Start again and squeeze your muscles tighter, lifting back from your strong torso, not bending back with your lower spine.
Last but not least, your transversus abdonminis is the deepest layer of the ab muscle group. When you engage this muscle you can develop a stronger balance in any yoga pose.
In Tree Pose, or Eagle Pose, tilt your pelvis forward and automatically you should feel a sense to contract your ab muscles more. Again, an isotonic workout for your entire lower body including your abs!
There you have it! Work on building a routine with these yoga poses to take your ab workout to another level! I suggest doing these poses in a series for one minute each, and repeat four to five times. The practice of yoga is just that, a practice. So the more you do these poses, the more you’ll get stronger and feel your muscles working like you’ve never experienced before…Or even knew was possible! So, get going! There’s only another eight months until bikini season!
Stephanie Fasulo is a certified power yoga teacher, holding classes for personal growth weekly at Studio 1 Fitness in Streetsville, Studio: Yoga on 7 in Woodbridge, and is available for corporate and/or group classes any time. For more info check out her website.