If you're bored with your regular gym routine or running in circles on familiar tracks, yoga might be a good switch. Yoga is a great way to shake things up, tone your entire body, and lose weight. If you are looking to focus on your waist and belly, you've nailed it with Yoga. Understanding the anatomy of your stomach first, is key. Your stomach has four muscles, which need toning.
The FOUR muscles are:
1. Rectus Abdominus: This is the 6 pack. It is the most superficial muscle and it doesn’t contribute to stabilizing the low back. This muscle is also known as the “6 pack”.
2. External Abdominal Oblique: These are diagonal fibers that help us to rotate.
3. Internal Abdominal Oblique: These muscles are diagonal and work in opposite direction as the External Obliques.
4. Corset muscle aka Transversus abdominus: This muscle has horizontal fibers and it literally “shrinks” your waist when it contracts.
The THREE key poses to tone:
1. Boat Pose. Start with sitting on a mat with knees bent in front of you and feet flat on the ground. Hold arms in front so that hands brush the sides of knees. Lean back so torso (back)is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Slowly lift feet off of the ground as you straighten legs, forming a “V” with body. Use core muscles to hold the position and bring arms slightly away from body for more balance. Take a breath here in boat pose (pic below), then slowly ease back into lying down on the floor. Simultaneously lower legs, engaging quads and abdominals (and breathing!), so that feet are about six inches off the ground in low boat. Repeat this sequence 10 to 20 times.
2. Chair Twist Pose. From standing, sink hips, reach arms high, and bend knees to come into chair pose. Look in front of knees and make sure you can see toes. If you can’t, sit back until you can. Take hands together at center of chest, take a big inhale to lengthen through spine, and use exhale to twist to the right, taking left elbow outside of right thigh. Inhale back to center and use exhale to twist to the left. Repeat this sequence 5 to 10 times on each side.
3. Side Angle-Reverse Warrior Flows. From high lunge with right foot in front, spin back heel so foot is planted on the ground, turn right toes to face front and left toes slightly in so hips and shoulders are facing torso, and reach right arm in front of you and left arm behind you, palms down. Look over front hand. Bend right knee so thigh is parallel to the ground, coming into warrior II. Release right forearm to right thigh and reach left arm to the ceiling and then toward the front of the mat overhead to come into side angle (shown at left). Reach left fingertips back to warrior II and keep reaching hand down left leg as you reach right arm toward the back of the mat to come into reverse warrior. Touch right arm forward back to warrior II to complete the sequence. Do this sequence 10 times, then repeat on the other side.