Depending on your body shape and genetic disposition, your body has a tendency to store more fat in certain areas. These areas are known to be stubborn when it comes to fat burn and are probably the last areas to shed fat when you’re on your fat loss journey. Unfortunately, belly fat is one of the most common areas where your body loves to store its reserves.
If you’ve been doing cardio and high-intensity exercise daily along with eating clean but are still not able to melt that bulge around your belly, it’s time to come to the mat. Yoga can help you strengthen and stabilize your core which can boost your metabolism and, in return, reduce that stubborn belly. Here are 5 yoga poses that give you a good stretch and a strong core.
1. Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
Lie on your stomach, forehead on the floor, your hands next to the ribs, fingers lining up with the lower ribs pointing forward.
The top of your feet pressing in the floor and just as in Cobra pose lift the thighs and knees and keep the tailbone pointing towards the heels.
On an inhalation press into your hands and feet, straighten the arms and lift the chest and also legs of the floor.
Draw the shoulder blades onto your back and lift your sternum but draw the front lower ribs slightly back, bring your tailbone towards your pubic bone and draw the navel slightly in and up to keep the lower back long.
You can look straight ahead, or advanced students may look up, if they know they are open enough to not compress the back of your neck when you look up.
You can hold this pose anywhere between 5-15 breaths. To come out you lower yourself down on the floor on an exhale.
2. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Come to stand with your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart. Lift and spread your toes wide, releasing them down to the ground, and root down through all four corners of your feet.
Engage your thighs to lift your kneecaps slightly (without hyperextending your knees). Gently draw your energy in toward the mid-line of your body.
Lengthen your tailbone down toward the floor and find a neutral pelvis. Draw your low ribs into your body and press your shoulder blades into your back, lifting your sternum.
Move your shoulders away from your ears, and broaden your collarbones. Relax your arms by your sides, and turn your palms to face forward to open up through your chest.
Bring your chin parallel to the floor and soften your face and jaw. Get tall from the soles of your feet up and out through the crown of your head. Remain in the pose anywhere from 5 to 10 breaths.
3. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Begin standing in Mountain pose (Tadasana), with the feet parallel and separated hip distance apart.
Place your hands on your hips and inhale to reach the crown of the head up toward the ceiling and find length along the spine.
On your next exhale, begin to hinge at the hips and fold forward over the legs, bringing the torso to flow over the legs like a waterfall.
Take as much of a bend in your knees as you need to here in order to take any tension out of the low back, and allow the head to hang heavy. Either let the arms softly hang or take a hold of opposite elbows to deepen the sensation.
If it feels comfortable, you can also bring the fingertips to the ground, or press the palms against the calves to move even deeper.
Shift your weight slightly forward into the balls of your feet and notice how that changes the sensation in your hamstrings.
To come out of the pose, take a slight bend in the knees and place the hands on the hips. With the core engaged, inhale to find a flat back and exhale all the way up to stand.
4. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Begin lying on your belly, with your arms relaxed alongside your body, palms facing upwards, your legs extended straight back behind you and your forehead resting down on your mat.
Bend your knees, bringing your heels in toward your buttocks. Reach your hands back and take a hold of your outer ankles. Flex your feet to protect your knees as you enter the pose.
Begin to kick back strongly into your feet and find the action of pressing your shins toward the back of the room.
Don’t let the knees begin to bow apart here — keep them hip-distance apart — and instead find the “bow” action in your body by bringing more lift into your torso and in your upper thighs.
Lift your heels higher away from your buttocks and draw the tops of your shoulders away from your ears.
Keep your chin parallel to the ground and your gaze directly ahead of you to avoid jamming into the back of the neck. Breathe fully and deeply into your back body.
Remain in the pose for 5 breaths, then gently release your legs on an exhale and rest on your mat for several breaths with your arms alongside your body.
5. Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
Start with a Table Pose. Align your wrists to be right under your shoulders, palms and fingers pressed into the floor, middle fingers parallel to each other.
Pay attention to your neck here. It shouldn’t be scrunched up. Don’t hunch your shoulders, instead pull them away from ears.
Move your thighs backward and straighten your legs. Your heels should be right over the balls of the feet.
Now your neck, spine, and legs should form one line. Don’t drop your belly, chest, or legs. Instead, draw your abdomen towards your spine, and keep the body strong.
Stay in the pose for a few breaths. You may later increase the time in the pose to a minute or even more. Rest in Child pose.