Yoga to Strengthen Core Muscles

How to strengthen core muscles with Yoga? Here are 7 simple yoga poses to achieve a balanced body structure. Who doesn’t love to have those flat, washboard abs with a toned core? But, is core strength all about that? Well, no! A strong core ensures that your digestive system is in place. While these yoga poses do melt the belly fat, they have better benefits, including a smooth, nurtured digestive system and strong shoulders. However, take it easy if cannot do all the poses. Try a few of them, holding each one for at least 5 to 7 breaths.

Strengthen Core Muscles with Yoga

  1. Utkatasana – Chair Pose

It works on the lower belly, thighs, and upper torso at the same time. Sucking the navel in towards the spine tones the abdominal area. It is a good posture to tone the post natal stomach as well.

Stand with the feet and knees together. Keep the hips squared to the front, palms resting on either side of the body. Inhale and on the exhale, push the hips back and come to a semi-squat. Join the palms over head, arms aligned with the ears. Sit back deeper while engaging core. Stack the knees over ankles, aligning the thighs parallel to floor. The toes should be visible. Slightly angle the torso forward to keep the spine neutral. Hold the pose for 7 breaths.

Deepen: Lift the heels from the floor for a deeper thigh burning experience.

  1. Parsvakonasana – Extended Side Angle Pose

It tones the love handles, the fat that gets accumulated on the sides. It also works as a hip opener and thigh strengthener.

On an inhale, straighten the legs from Utkatasana. Release the arms with the exhale. On the next inhale, step the left leg back about 4 feet away from the right. Place the left heel firmly on the floor and angle the foot at about 45 degrees so that the left toes face slightly inward. Turn the hips to left side.

Exhale and bend the right knee, stacking it above the ankle. Slide the left leg back to lower the hips down and bring the right thigh parallel to the floor. Inhale and bring the arms at shoulder height, palms facing the floor. Exhale and place the right palm inside the right foot. Inhale and straighten the left hand to the ceiling. Hold here for 3 breaths.

Now, bring the left arm over the head and gaze at the left fingertips, if there are no neck or shoulder injuries. Let the palms face the floor. Hold for 5 breaths.

Repeat on the other side.

Deepen: Place the left palm on the floor on an exhale. With the next inhalation, lift the right arm to the ceiling and gaze up for a twist. Hold the posture for 7 breaths.

  1. Kumbhakasana – Plank Pose

Plank is one of the most touted core toner. Be it yoga or Pilates, people love taking up the Plank challenge. It is a whole body strengthening exercise. With the right alignment and core engaged, you just have to do this one posture for a stronger back and digestive system.

On an inhale, bring the arms back to shoulder level from Parsvakonasana. Tuck the right toes. Inhale and join the left leg with the right. Engage the core, pulling the navel back to the spine. Straighten the legs. Adjust the alignment of the body in such a way that wrists come directly under the shoulders. Roll the shoulders away from the ears, allowing the shoulder blades to come closer. Spread the fingers wide. Engage the thigh and buttock muscles.

Breathe into the pose as the body rests in a straight line, head to toe. Hold the posture for 7 deep breaths.

Deepen: Balancing on the left arm, stack the right leg on the left. Turn to the right. Inhale and lift the right arm to the ceiling to come into Side Plank. Lift the hips higher and move the body slightly forward so that shoulders and wrists are in one line. Hold the posture for 7 breaths. Exhale and come back to the Plank. Repeat on the other side.

  1. Chaturanga Dandasana – Four Limbed Staff Pose

A closer look at this posture will reveal that it is a low plank. It is slightly more challenging as it requires immense arm strength. But those who have tried the practice vouch for its core strengthening benefits.

From Plank Pose, gently lower the body close to the floor. Bend the forearms, pushing the elbows backward. Hug the elbows close to the body. Allow the shoulders and elbows to be in a single line. Forearms are parallel to the floor. Keep the core, legs, and buttocks active. Lift the top of the sternum and your head to look forward. Gaze forward and hold the posture for 7 breaths.

Deepen: On an inhale, lift the right leg slightly from the floor. Hold the pose for 7 deep breaths. Repeat on the left side.

  1. Bakasana – Crane Pose

It is an arm balance that has multitude of benefits. From strengthening and toning the core to easing your digestive issues, this posture works in a wholesome way. Feel free to use a block beneath the heels or do the partial version if there is a pre-existing knee condition. In the partial version, lift only one leg at a time and hold it for 5 to 7 breaths.

From Chaturanga Dandasana, inhale and press the palms into the floor. On the exhale, push the hips to the ceiling and come into Parvatsana. On the next inhale, walk or jump in between the palms and come into a complete squat. Separate the feet as wide as the hips. Inhale and raise the heels, balancing the entire body on the toes. Lean forward slightly to shift the entire bodyweight to the palms. Engage the core, bend the elbows slightly, and lift the body up using the palms.

If possible, lift higher until the elbows and floor are perpendicular to each other. Gaze forward and hold the posture for 5 to 7 breaths.

On an exhale, gently release the pose and sit back in Shashankasana.

  1. Navasana – Boat Pose

Boost the digestive fire while working the way towards a toned, flat abdomen with this wonderful Yoga posture. Keep the spine neutral throughout the practice to reap the benefits.

From Shashankasana, sit on the floor and swing the legs to the front. Adjust the muscles of the buttocks so that the body is resting on the sitting bones. On an inhale, lift the legs and hands up. Lean the torso slightly backward to maintain the spine neutrality. Engage the core and hold the posture for 7 deep breaths.

Deepen: On the last exhale, lower the legs and body, allowing the lower back to rest on the floor. Hold for 7 breaths. Come back to Navasana. Repeat this high boat – low boat flow 5 to 7 times.

  1. Ustrasana – Camel Pose

It is a heart opener and a deep backbend that works on the core alike. Support the knee with adequate padding if there is any pre-existing condition.

After completing Navasana, sit down in Vajrasana. Inhale and lift the body from the heels to come into a kneeling position. Let the tops of the feet rest on the floor/mat. Extend the toes backward. Inhale and lift the arms to the ceiling. On an exhale, push the hips forward. Inhale, engage the core and squeeze the muscles of the buttocks. On the next exhalation, hold the respective ankles of the feet, one at a time.

Roll the shoulders backward and keep pushing the hips forward. Tilt the head backward as much as possible. Hold the posture for 7 deep breaths.

On an inhale, gently release the arms and slowly come back into kneeling. Sit back on the heels and come into Shashankasana to release the tension the back experiences.

Begin with 5 to 7 breaths and slowly increase the time to 3 minutes. Regular practice of these postures will burn the tummy fat within weeks.

Try the above set of poses to strengthen core muscles in the yogic way.