yoga series: abs

camel pose

Most of us are constantly trying to strengthen and tone our core. Aside from the obvious slim waist-line, a strong core is beneficial in so many ways. It helps support your back, it improves posture, it’s good for balance and stability. While we all know core strength is important, sticking with the same old crunches every week can become a bit monotonous! Since we are avid yogis, we like to take some of our favorite core strengthening poses off the matt and into the gym to help shake things up a bit.

We’ve put together our favorite core toning poses that can be incorporated into any workout. One important key to all of these exercises is to make sure your core is engaged the entire time during the pose. This will help to protect your back and strengthen your abdomen at the same time.

Side Plank:

one arm balance

Start in a plank position with your hands directly below your shoulders. On an inhale, slowly shift your weight to your right side as you stack your left foot on top of your right, turn your torso to the left and raise your left arm so that your hand is reaching for the sky. The key is to keep your hips lifted to that they are in line with your spine. Hold this pose for five breaths then slowly transition back into plank. On your next inhale repeat the same steps on the other side. Repeat this exercise two more times.

Knee to Arm Plank:

knee to elbow

Come into plank pose and on an exhale bring your right knee to your right elbow. Hold this pose for five breaths and then release back into plank. On your next exhale repeat on the other side. Repeat this exercise two more times.

Opposite Knee to Arm Plank:

knee to opposite elbow

Come into plank pose and on an exhale bring your right knee to your left elbow. Hold this pose for five breaths then release back into plank. On your next exhale repeat on the other side. Repeat this exercise two more times.

Warrior Three:

warrior 3

To come into this pose from standing, you will move your body like a pendulum. Engage your core and raise your arms to the sky. Then bend your right knee and slowly kick your right leg back while your torso comes forward. Straighten your right leg as it extends out fully behind you, making sure your right hip isn’t lifted higher than the left and your right foot is flexed. Make sure your arms and torso are extended out and in line with your right leg. Hold for five breaths and then slowly come back to standing. Repeat on your other side. Repeat this exercise one more time on each side.

Forearm Plank:

forearm plank

Come into plank pose and slowly lower your arms so that you are resting on your forearms. You will want to make sure that your elbows are directly under your shoulders and that your core is tucked in tight. Hold this pose for five breaths then slowly lower to your tummy. Repeat two more times.

Boat Pose:

boat pose 1

Start by sitting down on the ground with your spine straight and tilted back at a 45 degree angle. Bring your knees into your chest while holding the backs of your thighs. Take a breath in and as you exhale, extend your legs and arms out. Be sure to keep your chest lifted and your shoulders relaxed. Remain in this pose for five breaths and release. Repeat two more times.

Camel Pose:

camel-pose

Start in a kneeling position. On an inhale place your hands on the back of your hips, engage your core while lifting it and slowly lean back while pushing your hips out with your hands. Let your head begin to lower back, making sure that your neck stays in line with your spine. As your torso continues to move backward you can then let your hands rest on your heels or ankles, which ever is more comfortable. The key to camel pose is to keep your core engaged the entire time and to make sure that your head doesn’t fall too far back. Hold for five breaths and then slowly begin to raise your torso back into an upright position. Repeat two more times.

Wheel Pose:

wheel pose

Wheel is one of those sneaky poses. When done correctly it works so many parts of the body! You will notice it working your abs, bum, thighs, hamstrings and shoulders all while giving you an amazing stretch! If you aren’t comfortable with wheel you can feel free to skip this pose. To come into wheel lie on your back with your knees bent, toes pointed forward, your heels close to your sit bones and feet hip distance apart. Bring your hands back by your shoulders so that your elbows are pointed toward the ceiling, your palms are flat on the ground and your fingertips are pointed toward your feet. Engage your core, and on an inhale push your body upward using mostly the strength in your legs. Make sure to keep you knees and toes pointing straight ahead, and hip distance apart. Relax your shoulders and let your head hang. Hold for five breaths and then lower down to the ground. Repeat this pose two more times and then relax.

Now for a good stretch!

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Ashley + Hallman

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