Developing the Abdominal Muscles
A strong core creates proper alignment, steadier arm balances and stability in the spine for inversions. The next few exercises are crucial to a well-rounded development of the abdominal muscles. The key is to practice often and keep challenging the amount of reps you do. Each time you work your abs they will start to feel stronger and stronger.
Exercise 1: Row your boat.
Start in Navasana, boat pose. Knees are bent 90 degrees, spine is straight, shoulders are relaxed and chest is lifting. Interlace your hands, extending the index fingers and thumbs. Start moving your arms from the left to the right while maintaining a straight spine. Use your ujayii breathing, focusing on creating strong abdominal exhales. Start with 15 reps and work up to 50.
Exercise 2: Bicycle Twists
Start on your back hovering the legs and shoulders off the ground. Place your hands behind your head and begin alternate tapping opposite elbow to knee. To intensify the pose try it with your legs completely straight lowering your leg almost all the way to the ground and lifting the opposite leg up. Experiment with 15 reps and gradually increase to 25 or 50.
Exercise 3: Lumberjacks
Come into a low plank on your elbows. Engage your abominal muscles as if you are trying to pulll your navel into the spine. Begin to alternate sending the knee forward to tap the back of the arm near the tricep. Each time you send the knee forward, exhale strongly by sucking your belly in forcefully. Try to do as many reps as possible and rest on your belly with your head to one side.
Exercise 4: Scissor cross-overs
Begin on your back with the hands tucked under the hips to elevate the low back. Lift your legs off the floor a few inches (it’s important to keep your legs low and close to the ground to work very deep low belly muscles). Start crossing the legs over and under as many times as you can, keeping the legs staight and strong. If you flex the feet, pulling the toes back towards you, you will feel the quadriceps working. Do 3 sets of 15 and gradually increase.
Why is having a strong core so important?
The abdominal muscles support the spine and play a big role in posture. Without engaging the core, the spine collapses, the shoulders hunch forward and the tail bone swings back. It is extremely important to work the abs every day in order to maintain control of our center of gravity. In yoga, the abdominals guide and support everything – from mountain pose to handstand. Just 5 minutes of abdominal exercises per day will not only change how you carry yourself but also give tremendous power to your practice. Stay consistent; You’ll start seeing big changes in your practice within just a few weeks.