If You Want Killer Abs, Practice These 10 Yoga Poses for Abs

Jessie Benson
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Having a strong core is a beautiful thing, and not just because it makes for Instagram-worthy yoga pics. A strong core helps you maintain support and control of our body in all of your daily activities, from picking up the kids to hitting the gym. These yoga poses for abs will improve core strength, help reduce strain on the spine, and prevent injuries by improving posture and balance.

So, even if you have a bit of padding shielding your six-pack abs, it’s still important to build strength in your core from the inside out. Yoga is the perfect tool to help build that strength! Almost every single yoga pose from standing balance postures to seated twists require (and also build) abdominal strength and stability.

In standing yoga postures, such as Triangle Pose, the deepest abdominal muscles, the transversus abdominis are fired up as they stabilize the torso and the spine. When we do several yoga poses in a sequence, we are working the core muscles from every single angle, making them activate and engage with every movement and transition.
 

Practice These 10 Yoga Poses for Abs

You don’t have to spend all day at the gym to build a strong core. Instead, incorporate these 10 yoga poses for abs to your practice to get a killer core. Bonus points if you practice all 10 yoga poses in a dynamic flow!
 

1. Plank Plank

Let’s face it, Plank Pose is one of those yoga poses we all have a love/hate relationship with. This stabilizing core strengthener will activate all the muscles in your core to help hold you still.
 
Plank
 
How to Practice Plank Pose:

  • Start on your hands and knees in Tabletop Pose, and align your wrists directly under your shoulders
  • Come to the balls of your feet as you extend your legs behind you, lifting your knees off the mat (it looks like the top of a push-up)
  • Slightly tuck your tailbone to activate muscles in the lower belly
  • Engage the muscles in your legs, lifting up through the quads to keep your body strong
  • Keep your core strong to prevent hips from sagging down or picking up

 
 

2. Dolphin Pose

Dolphin Pose works the abdominals while toning the shoulders and lengthening the spine. Holding Dolphin Pose will engage all muscles in your core, both superficial and deep muscles.
 
dolphin
 
How to Practice Dolphin Pose:

  • From Plank Pose drop your forearms to the mat, keeping your wrist in line with your elbow and palm on the earth
  • Keep elbows directly under the shoulders
  • Lift your hips towards the sky, and walk your toes in towards your face – like a Downward
  • Facing Dog on your forearms
  • For more intensity, lift hips above the shoulders and relax your heels toward the ground

 
 

3. Dolphin Pose With Leg Lift:

Dolphin Pose with a leg lift fires up the front body – the muscles that run from just below your sternum to your waist. This Dolphin variation is one of the best exercises for core conditioning because it engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
 
dolphinleglift
 
How to Practice Dolphin Pose With Leg Lift:

  • Start in Dolphin Pose
  • Walk your feet in towards your elbows to align your hips over your shoulders (or at least as much as possible!)
  • Lift your head just enough to maintain a neutral neck – don’t look too far forward or back
  • Alternate lifting each leg toward the sky

 
 

4. Star Plank (Side Plank Variation)

This Side Plank variation will help tone those famous “love handles” or obliques. Your waist will activate as you lift the body, and your abdominals will be working to stabilize the entire body. By lifting the top leg, you will further strengthen your obliques and lower abs.
 
starplank
 
How to Practice Star Plank:

  • From Plank Pose, shift your weight onto one hand and transition into Side Plank
  • For less pressure on your wrists, drop down to your forearm for a Side Forearm Plank
  • Stack your top leg on top of bottom, and slowly lift your top leg away from the bottom leg
  • To modify the pose, simply drop to the bottom knee or keep the legs together

 

 

5. Upward Facing Plank Pose

Although you may initially feel this as stretch in your shoulders, arms and chest, Upward Facing Plank Pose also builds core strength while challenging and improving balance. This pose is a great way to counterbalance the motion of sitting at a desk for many hours of the day. In this Plank variation we open up the front body while strengthening the muscles along the spine.
 
upward facing plank
 
How to Practice Upward Facing Plank Pose:

  • Begin seated on your mat with legs extended long in front of you
  • Bring your hands behind you, palms flat on the mat under your shoulders with your fingers facing your body
  • Lift hips upwards and allow feet to fall towards the floor, pressing flat on the ground if possible

 
 

6. Half Bow-Half Locust

This fun variation of traditional Bow and Locust Pose strengthens the muscles that surround the spine. It is a great counterpose to the others that target the front core muscles.
 
halflocustbow
 
How to Practice Half Bow-Half Locust:

  • Start lying flat on your belly and reach one hand back
  • Grab a hold of the ankle on that same side
  • Extend the opposite arm straight out in front of you
  • As you lift your chest off the ground, press your foot into your hand and lift up into a Half Bow Pose
  • Simultaneously lift the opposite leg and arm into a Half Locust Pose

 
 

7. Twisting Boat Pose

Boat pose engages the deep abdominal muscles and tests the strength and stamina of every muscle from your hips to your shoulders. By incorporating the twist you will also fire up the side body – both the internal and external obliques.
 
TwistingBoat
 
How to Practice Twisting Boat Pose:

  • From Boat Pose keep your shins parallel to the floor and knees bent (for a more advanced variations you can straighten the legs)
  • Hold Boat Pose for one breath with arms extended straight out in front of you
  • Twist to one side, opening your arms wide
  • Come back to center and repeat on opposite side

 
 

8. Floating Triangle

Triangle Pose is taught in almost every yoga class, however we rarely do the floating variation. By floating the arms overhead we begin to lengthen and strengthen the obliques, abdominals, and back.
 
FloatingTriangle
 
How to Practice Floating Triangle Pose:

  • Begin in Triangle Pose and extend the bottom arm straight out in front of you
  • Bring the top arm over your head, with your bicep close to your ear
  • Imagine holding a giant beach ball over your head

 
 

9. Chair Pose

Looks can be deceiving when it comes to Chair Pose. However, Chair Pose requires a great deal of stability through the core in addition to strength in the legs and flexibility in the shoulder. All of your core muscles will be engaged as you hold the pose and practicing this pose regularly can help improve your posture over time.
 
Chair
 
How to Practice Chair Pose:

  • From Mountain Pose, bend your knees and lower your thighs to be parallel with the floor
  • Sit your hips straight back as if sitting into a chair
  • Keep arms extended overhead and torso long as you reach your tailbone down toward the floor and crown of head up to the sky
  • Keep your core engaged (imagine drawing your belly button in towards your spine)

 
 

10. Warrior III

Although it may most often be thought of as a standing balance pose, Warrior III builds strength and length in all parts of the core. From the front abdomen to the muscles around the spine, you will be engaging your entire core to hold your balance while keeping your body aligned.
 
WarriorIII
 
How to Practice Warrior III

  • From Mountain Pose extend your fingertips above your head
  • Draw one knee towards your chest
  • Begin to kick your lifted foot behind you
  • Reach your hands forward in front of you
  • Imagine making a capital “T” shape with your body; your torso and extended leg should be parallel to the floor

 

Practice These Yoga Poses Often For Killer Abs

Remember, in order to have a strong core we must work the muscles that make up the core from every possible angle. And we need to think bigger than just six-pack abs. Yes, the front body (transverse and rectus abdominis) makes up a large portion of our core, but we also need to work the back body, side body, and hip flexors, as well as the thighs and glutes.
 
These 10 yoga poses, when put together as a sequence, allow your body to move naturally while targeting the core muscles. Practicing movements like this, fluidly linking one to the next, is far more effective than doing isolated abdominal exercises.
 
It’s also important not to rush through the sequence. The purpose of this sequence is to move your entire body, with ease, in multiple directions. Remember to work with your breath and allow your body and mind to relax as you move through each of these poses.
 
Whether your goal is to be able to get into an arm balance or to have Instagram-worthy abs, these yoga poses for abs will help you build strength through your entire core!
 

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Jessie Benson

Jessie Benson is the founder and creator of FloYo®. Jessie combines her passion for yoga with her love of the outdoors, experience competing in triathlons and intensity of teaching spin classes to create a challenging core workout on a standup paddleboard with her FloYo fitness classes. Jessie is a sponsored SUP racer with Yolo Board and a master trainer for the Academy of Surfing Instructors and leads FloYo Teacher Trainings around the globe.

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