“I want to have abs,” says most of my yoga students when I ask them why they practice yoga.
In almost every yoga class I have ever taught, there is always at least one student who comes to me and asks, “Does yoga give abs?” Of course, their goal is to have the ever-elusive six-pack or at least a four-pack.
I can’t blame them.
Many people think that having abs or having ripped abs (because we all have abs, you guys) is the ultimate sign of fitness. Even I, at some point, wanted to have them.
And yes, yoga gives you abs.
Most yoga postures require engaging the core, which can grow your rectus abdominis and other core muscles.
But yoga alone does not give you a six-pack.
For your abs to be visible, you need to lose the belly fat that covers them. That is why they say abs are made in the kitchen.
Each of us already has abs. But not everyone will have visible abs because of three reasons:
- You have belly fat that covers your abs.
- Your core muscles are not big enough to be visible.
- You didn’t win the genetic abs lottery. Your genes determine the fat distribution in the body. If your genes store fat in the belly, you most likely will not get ripped abs.
Having a flat belly requires shedding the belly fat that covers the abs. That means you need to eat at a calorie deficit. Also, you will need to exercise for the core muscles to grow and show up for the abs to be toned and ripped. But it is essential to remember that even if you eat clean and exercise, some of us may not have visible abs because we don’t have the genetics.
So, should you still do yoga to get abs?
Definitely, yes! Yoga has so many benefits for your abs. Here are these benefits:
- Does Yoga Give You Abs? Here are the Benefits for the Abs
- 7 Yoga Poses for the Abs
- Factors to Keep in Mind
Does Yoga Give You Abs? Here are the Benefits for the Abs
Yoga Strengthens Your Core
Having a strong core helps your body in many ways. Your core is your body’s stabilizer that holds your torso, lower body, and upper body. When your core is weak, your movement will be limited.
Yoga Improves Your Posture
In yoga asanas, we focus on posture so the breath can flow freely within the body. By improving the posture, your core and other parts of the body will be active without exerting too much energy. As a result, your body will be in an ideal alignment and will feel light.
Yoga Relieves Back Pain
Yoga can strengthen your core. When the core is strong, you reduce the risk of having back pain. Practicing yoga for the abs and other muscles in the core also relieves back pain. Back pain usually happens when we hyperextend our back because our core is weak.
Yoga Improves Your Balance
Practicing yoga can strengthen your abs. However, while balancing poses such as Warrior 3 or Airplane Pose looks like it relies on the strength of your legs alone, it also depends on your core strength. To stay in a balancing pose requires you to stabilize your torso, legs, and arms.
7 Yoga Poses for the Abs
All yoga poses require activating the core, but not all of them directly target your abdominal muscles. So, if you want to have solid and toned abdominal muscles and don’t do other exercises aside from practicing yoga asanas, incorporate these poses in your yoga practice.
Phalakasana or Plank Pose
Phalakasana or plank pose is typical in yoga and other fitness systems. That’s because it is a highly effective exercise to stabilize all the core muscles and the arms.
Here’s How to Do Plank Pose:
- Start with your hands and knees on the mat. Ensure the shoulders are in line with the wrists and your hips are in line with your knees.
- Activate your core by drawing the belly in and up toward your chest. Then, walk your feet to the back and tuck your toes. Align your toes with your ankles.
- Stay in Plank Pose for five or more rounds of breath.
I have a love-hate relationship with Navasana or Boat Pose. But it is excellent for strengthening your abs and your hip flexor, so I do it. You should do it, too.
Here’s How to Do Boat Pose:
- Sit down with your legs fully extended in front and your hands to your side. Then, inhale and slightly lean back.
- As you exhale, engage your core, bend your knees, and lift the feet at a 90-degree angle. If you can, lift the hands forward or keep them down on the floor on either side of your buttocks. If you want to make this pose more challenging, you have the option to extend your legs fully.
- Stay in Navasana for three or more cycles of breath.
Ardha Pincha Mayurasana or Dolphin Pose
Dolphin Pose or Ardha Pincha Mayurasana is a preparatory pose for many arm balances. It strengthens your arms and core muscles while opening the chest.
Here’s How to Do Dolphin Pose:
- Start on all fours. Then, bring your forearms parallel to the ground. You can have your palms down or together in the prayer position.
- Now, engage your core and bring your hips up. If it’s possible to bring your elbows directly on top of the elbows, do that by walking your feet forward. You may or may not get your heels down.
- Stay in Dolphin for a few rounds of breath.
Vasisthasana or Side Plank Pose
Like your regular plank, Side Plank or Vasisthasana increases the strength of your core, particularly your obliques. It also makes your shoulders stronger.
Here’s How to Do Side Plank Pose:
- From your regular plank, roll your heels to the right to come to the side edges of your feet.
- Then, shift your weight to your right arm and slowly bring your left arm up. You should gaze toward your left thumb.
- Stay in this asana for at least three breaths before doing it on the other side.
Note: You have the option to bring one knee down if extending both of your knees is too much for you. If you want a challenge, you can bring the legs on top of each other or bring the top leg up for the full variation of the pose.
Purvottasana or Reverse Plank Pose
Yes, another variation of a plank. Purvottasana or Reverse Plank Pose is a yoga posture that will improve your abdominal muscle’s strength and buttocks and triceps. It also stretches your chest.
Here’s How to Do Reverse Plank Pose:
- Sit tall with your legs stretched out in front of you. Keep your back straight.
- Place your hands on either side of your buttocks with your fingers pointing toward your heels.
- Now, activate your core and your buttocks and slowly lift your hips and legs off the mat. Keep your shoulder blades down.
- Stay in this pose for three or more rounds of breath.
Bakasana or Supine Crow Pose
Crow Pose or Bakasana is a challenging arm balancing yoga posture. It requires a lot of arm strength. However, if you do it in a supine position, it can strengthen your core.
Here’s How to Do Supine Crow Pose:
- Lie down on your back and extend your legs.
- Inhale and bring your arms overhead. As you exhale, start to engage your core and lift your legs.
- Start bending your knees and bringing your elbows or triceps on top of the knees. Your palms should be facing up, and your big toes should be together.
- Repeat this for five or more rounds.
Ab-Supported Trikonasana or Triangle Pose
Trikonasana or Triangle Pose is excellent for stretching your side body and improving the flexibility of your hamstrings. Traditionally, it also enhances the strength of your abdominal muscles. But this variation will target your abs more.
Here’s How to Do Triangle Pose:
- Stand with your legs as wide as you can. Spread your toes wide and evenly distribute your weight to all corners of your feet.
- Turn the right foot to face to the side at a 90-degree angle.
- Breath in and extend your arms overhead.
- Then, breath out as you move your torso and your arms to the right. Make sure your hips don’t move with your torso.
- Stay here for at least three cycles of breath. Repeat if desired.
Factors to Keep in Mind
Yoga can help you achieve a flat belly or toned abs. But to make it work, make sure to keep these factors in mind.
Be consistent in practicing yoga for your abs. Do yoga at least twice a week. You can also include the poses mentioned above when you do other forms of exercise.
Make sure you practice yoga with a proper form so you don’t injure yourself. Modify the poses if you find them too challenging.
To burn belly fat and show the abs, you need to eat less. While doing this is not an assurance that your abs will show because you might not have the genes, and it’s impossible to spot reduce, it will make you less bloated.
Yoga is an effective way to strengthen the core and the entire body. Do it consistently along with a proper diet, and you will have strong and toned abs.