There’s not just one formula for a toned belly. And since few people truly enjoy traditional crunch exercises, the best way to sculpt a toned midsection is to incorporate more core work into the workouts you already know and love.
Yoga not only helps improve flexibility and relieve stress (which studies show helps reduce belly fat), but it can also target your abdominal muscles in a much more functional and efficient way than any amount of crunches. Below are 5 of the best poses for sculpting your abs, so go ahead, kick those crunches to the curb!
Balancing Lotus: Sit with your legs crossed at the ankles. Hold onto the outside of each ankle with your opposite hand, and lift your legs off the floor, balancing on your sitting bones. Pull your abs into your spine and take a deep breath in and out. Try balancing for 5-10 breaths. Repeat 3-5 times.
Plank Pose: Start in tabletop (hands and knees.) Make sure your shoulders are over your wrist and hips over knees. Extend your legs and keep a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
Knee To Nose: Begin in downward facing dog. Extend your left leg up to the ceiling, pointing your toes. Shift your weight forward and begin to lower your hips into a plank pose but instead of putting your left toes down, bend your left knee into your chest, lifting your abs into your spine during the entire movement. Press your hips back up and extend your left leg behind you as you return to downward facing dog. Repeat 10 times with the left leg, 10 with the right.
Warrior 3: This posture is another major balance challenge that keeps your core engaged the entire time. Shift your weight into your right foot. Hug your left shin into your chest, then extend it straight back behind you so it’s parallel to the ground. Flex your left foot and point the toes down. Bring your fingertips to the ground to stabilize yourself if you need to. Reach your arms out in front of you so your body is in a straight line from your fingertips all the way down your back and out through your left heel. Stay here for 3 long, deep breaths then slowly return to standing. Repeat on the other side. Bend your bottom knee if you need to in order to maintain your balance, and work up to fully extending your supporting leg.
Stacked Side Plank: Use your abdominals to stabilize your entire body as you balance on one arm and leg. Lie on your right side with your knees straight. Place your right hand under your right shoulder. Lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Flex your feet and extend your left arm up to the ceiling. Breath deeply for the duration of the exercise. Hold this position for up to 60 seconds. Lower and repeat on the other side.
If this is too challenging, bend one (the bottom) or both knees to the floor to reduce the amount of weight that you have to lift.
Rest in Childs Pose for 3-5 minutes to end your practice.
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