A strong core can really change your body in a variety of ways. With strong abdominal muscles, you will find that you have better balance, more energy, and these muscles can even help to increase your flexibility. Not to mention, a flat stomach looks good! If you want to define your stomach without doing endless, boring crunches, try some of these yoga poses. While yoga may seem gentle, trust me - you'll be feeling the burn in no time.
As always, be sure to consult a medical professional before engaging in exercise. Only a medical professional can tell you if you are fit and healthy enough to practice yoga or do other physical activity.
1) Boat Pose - Navasana
This pose is one of the best ones you can do to strengthen your abs. If you can, do full boat pose for maximum results. Holding this position will contract your abdominal muscles, working them without the need to perform large movements. The longer you hold this pose, the more you will feel the burn. This is a great pose to do while you're watching TV or chilling with a book.
If you are unable to do the full pose, try some modifications! You can do this pose with your knees bent instead, with your arms holding the legs, or even with an arm on the floor.
2) Plank Pose
This pose will also work your abs. While it may seem like your arms are getting the workout in Plank Pose, your abs are also getting seriously toned while you hold this pose. This is because they tighten in order to help support your body. Hold this as long as you can, take a rest, and repeat.
Variations of the traditional Plank work well too, like Forearm Plank. If you can't do the full position, try modifications. Bend your knees and work up to the full strength.
3) Warrior III - Virabhadrasana III
This balancing pose may not seem like it focuses on abdominal muscles, but you need to use your core in order to balance. This means the muscles will be contracted while you try to hold this pose. You might not feel much while you are in the pose, but you'll definitely notice some soreness the next day, especially when you hold the pose longer!
This is a challenging pose, so work up to the full expression. Don't force it before your body is ready. There are many ways to modify this pose, from use a chair or prop to balance to keeping your leg only a little off to the floor.
4) Camel Pose - Ustrasana
This more advanced pose is excellent for defining your stomach. The serious backbend not only stretches your abdominal muscles, but it also strengthens them. That's because in this pose, your abs are what is mostly supporting your back and upper body while you bend.
Be aware that this pose should only be performed by those familiar with yoga, and you should warm up your back and abdominal muscles first. This is not a beginner pose. There are some modifications you can do in order to ease into the full expression over time, such as using your hands on your back for balance.
5) Side Plank
This challenging pose will work your side abs, or obliques, as well as the rest of your core. This is a very challenging pose that requires a ton of core strength.
If you have trouble holding this pose, you can try doing it up against a wall. You can also use modifications such as resting on your forearm or keeping your knees bent. Don't despair if you can't hold it for very long - you'll get there eventually, and even just a few seconds is great for your muscles.
6) Bridge Pose - Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
This back bending pose can help you to gain abdominal strength as well. Your abs will help you to lift your bottom and back off the ground, and the stretching motion will keep your muscles flexible.
For an extra challenge, lift one leg up in to the air and hold the pose. This will work your muscles a little more, and it can help define those side obliques. If you are struggling to reach the full expression of Bridge Pose, you can also use your hands to help lift you.
7) Upward Facing Dog - Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
This is a good pose to stretch those abdominal muscles after you've been working them. Hold this pose to give them a nice stretch. This can help them to be less sore the next day and recover more quickly. If you have abdominal soreness a day or two after your workout, this pose can really help if done a few times a day.
8) Corpse Pose - Savasana
As always, do savasana after your yoga workout to let your body relax. This will give the muscles a chance to breathe and soak in the workout. Don't skip savasana, it's an easy way to help your body heal faster and recover!
Sushma Webber from New Zealand on March 18, 2014:
Great article on the yoga poses to strengthen the abdomen muscles. Well researched and with good photos.
DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on February 02, 2014:
I have done all of these poses, except camel, in circuit training classes, without even knowing that they were yoga poses! Must get back onto that mat! Thanks.
Veenoo from India on February 02, 2014:
Helpful, thanks for sharing.