We all want those firm, sculpted abdominals…so we follow the cues in our yoga class for abs with block or frog lifting through with a vengeance and after 6 reps we exhale a huge “ahhhh” in relief. It does take awhile, but with repetition and learning how to “relax” the abs vs. holding tension in them, you will achieve the benefits of all those “ahhhhhs”. To relax the abs is to not hold your stomach in, contrary to our tight jeans rule of thumb! You can only strengthen relaxed abs, you can then exercise them as much as you want!
The benefits go far beyond just the sculpt. One of the perks of posing is increased muscle strength. Definitely one of the most physically evident benefits of yoga. Beyond the visible sculpted results though…the muscle development brings about greater internal advantages such as increased joint support which can help arthritis. Abdominal muscles assist in breathing, align the pelvis, flex and rotate the trunk, keep the torso erect, support the lumbar spine, and hold the organs of digestion. Whew…they not only look good but, make you feel good!!
So let’s break down a few of my favorites…my recommendation to you, if you want to do these on your own at home, is to bring the cues to memory! So grab an index card or scrap of paper and jot down the cues…get on your mat and vocally cue yourself through the reps. Trust me, after 6 reps, you will commit them to memory.
~ ABS WITH A BLOCK or rolled up & bound towel…
Lie on your back with your legs straight up towards the ceiling. Place the block between your calfs midway length or the roll between your thighs snug to your pelvic bones. Clasp your hands behind your head and you are ready to go!
Inhale and then hold the breath, curl tailbone towards ceiling. Keep legs directly over your hips. Still holding your breath, squeeze your block or roll lifting balls of feet to the ceiling. Exhale and lift your head and chest, supporting your head with your hands. Almost there…press your low back into the floor and pull your belly toward your spine. Inhale and let your head, chest, and pelvis come down to the floor.
That’s just one “ahhh”. If you’re just beginning your yoga journey, start with 3-5 reps…keep those abs in a relaxed state all day long and keep building on those reps!
~ ELBOW TO KNEE…
Lie on your back and bend your knees stacking them over your hips with shins parallel to the floor. Extend through the balls of your feet. Clasp your hands behind your head resting your head into your palms, relaxing the neck.
Inhale rolling your head and chest toward your legs. Hold your breath and curl your tailbone toward the ceiling. Exhale and bring your left elbow toward your right knee, keeping shins parallel to the floor, at the same time straighten your left leg. Keep right shoulder and shoulder blade off the floor….Ahhhh! At the end of the exhale, re-curl the tailbone and pull belly to spine. With your torso still curled up, inhale to come back to center, come out of twist rebending left leg to meet right. Repeat on the other side, keeping the torso and tailbone curled up. Do 5-10 reps on each side!
So there you go, what are you waiting for? Jot down these cues, get your legs to the sky and get those abs crunching👍