The 7 Moves in This Yoga Core Workout Will Set Your Abs on Fire
Trim your tree and your waistline this holiday season with a yoga core workout meant to set your abs aflame. Protect your spine, better your balance, and decrease your feelings of holiday anxiety with this simple core workout routine, based on yoga’s mindful moves.
“Incorporating yoga core workouts is important because it helps to improve strength for every posture, alleviate back pain/discomfort, and helps an individual feel empowered,” says Openfit Live Trainer Jennifer Fuller, a registered yoga teacher.
Freshen up your home workout routine with Fuller’s seven-pose yoga core workout series.
The Yoga Core Warm-Up
Fuller recommends starting with a five-minute warm-up before jumping into any yoga core workout sequence, especially if you are a beginner, so that you fire the proper muscles.
- Roll out your mat, start in child’s pose, and hold for about 30 seconds to bring attention to your breath as you stretch the muscles along your spine and your legs. (Strong breath is important for warming up your core muscles because the diaphragm connects to them.)
- Transition into tabletop pose for cow and cat poses. Flow between these two postures for a few breaths. Then, move to downward-facing dog for a few deep breaths.
- Finish your warm up with three or four sun salutations.
1. Boat Pose
Targeted Muscles: hip flexors, transverse abdominis, and rectus abdominis
- Following your sun salutation, take a seat on your yoga mat. Sweep your legs in front of you with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
- Keep your spine erect (pinch your shoulder blades together), and engage your abs by pulling your belly toward your spine. Lean back until you are on your sit bones.
- As an option, lift your feet away from the mat to get them parallel to the floor. Then, you may straighten your legs so that they make a 45-degree angle with the mat.
- Reach your arms in front of you. Draw your shoulders away from your ears. You may keep your hands in prayer at your chest, and your feet on the floor to modify.
- Hold the pose for three to five breaths.
Targeted Muscles: obliques and rectus abdominis
- From boat pose, lie back, keeping your head, legs, and arms hovering off the mat a couple of inches.
- Anchor your tailbone into the mat to protect your spine. Squeeze your thighs together, like there is a block between your legs.
- In one swift movement, raise your torso and your thighs into a V-shape (or back to boat pose).
- At all once, lower your body back to the starting position. Continue for two to three sets or 15 reps.
- On your last rep, lie flat on your mat with your arms by your sides.
3. Hollow Hold
Targeted Muscles: transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, and obliques
- Begin by lying on your mat. Extend your arms over your head. Draw your legs together to touch.
- In one swift, controlled movement, lift your arms, legs, and head away from the floor.
- Fuller recommends holding for 30-90 seconds, breathing steadily, before lowering back to the mat for a rest.
4. Single-Leg Crunch
Targeted Muscles: rectus abdominis
- Stay on your back and walk your feet in until your knees align over your shins.
- Press your tailbone into the mat to further engage your abdominal muscles to protect your spine.
- Lightly place your fingertips behind your ears, and flare your elbows out to the sides of the room.
- Lift one leg away from the floor, but keep your knee bent.
- Inhale in, then exhale and lift your head, neck, and shoulders away from the mat. Draw your chest toward your thighs.
- As you curl forward, draw your lifted knee toward your chest.
- Lower back to the starting position. Be sure not to let your head rest back on the mat. Repeat the motion for 15-20 reps, then switch legs and repeat.
- Finish in a long-body stretch. Then, stay on your back.
Targeted Muscles: obliques
- Lie on your back and send your legs straight to the ceiling. Flex your feet toward your face to anchor your tailbone to the floor. Lightly place your fingertips behind your ears and fan your elbows to the edges of your mat.
- Gaze to the ceiling to avoid crunching your neck. Inhale, then exhale and draw your left elbow to your right knee as you lower your left leg toward the floor. Hover your left heel an inch above the mat.
- Inhale back to center, align your legs, then exhale to switch sides. Curl to the left and lower your right leg this time.
- Repeat the movement for 10 reps on each side; move at your own pace.
- To modify this exercise, bend your knees to 90 degrees.
Targeted Muscles: transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, external obliques
- Roll onto your belly. Make the number “11” with your forearms, keeping them shoulder-distance apart. Stack your shoulders over your elbows.
- Push the floor away as you lift up and draw your shoulders toward the ceiling. Level your shoulders, hips, and heels in a straight line. Squeeze your abs in and up to your spine.
- Tighten your glute muscles. Push the back of your knees toward the ceiling and your heels to the back of your mat.
- You have the option to drop down to your knees. Squeeze your heels toward your glutes to keep your muscles firing.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds.
7. Locust Pose (Shalabasana)
Targeted Muscles: muscles on the back of your body, external obliques, and transverse abs
- Lie down on your belly with your arms extended to your sides, graze your thumbs by your hips.
- Pinch your shoulders together as if there is a pencil between your shoulder blades. Squeeze your glutes, thighs, and calves together.
- On an inhale, engage all the muscles in your body, exhale, lift away from the floor and hold. Balance on your belly to protect your spine.
- Gaze forward, and keep your head in line with your neck.
- Hold for 30-90 seconds, then release.
- Fuller recommends finishing with a cobra pose to stretch out.