8 Core Yoga Poses to Strengthen and Define Your Abs

Do you want to develop strong and defined abs? Hitting the gym can be quite costly in terms of time and money. Fortunately, you can start small by practicing yoga at home! All you need is to know the important yoga poses to do to get the kind of abs you truly desire.

To achieve that, you must enhance your core strength. Many types of exercises deal with this but yoga is one of the best. It is a slow and meditative workout wherein each deep stretch will engage your abdominal muscles. Also, it makes us physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy.

So if you’re thinking to start your core workout, this guide is for you.

What is a core?

The core is defined as the muscle group that controls your spine and pelvis. Strength in the core is not really about power but more about the body being in the proper form to maintain certain postures. It is a matter of having the right strength, energy, and endurance.

Why is core strength important?

Core strength is extremely essential because it can help reduce the risk of injuries. If you do get injured, having a stable core will make you more resilient to it—enabling you to recover at a faster rate. The stronger core that you have, the stronger foundation your body has when it comes to movements. This is exactly why athletes take a great deal in improving their core strength.

If you do core yoga, you can perform better in other intense physical activities. It will help you control your body and movements better. Who knows? This might even become your favorite yoga

How do yoga poses for core work?

A lot of people may associate yoga with relaxation and meditation but it’s also ideal for strengthening many parts of the body. Yoga features extensive forms of postures and breath cycles that are targeting the muscle groups of the body—the core muscles being one of them. Many of them keep the core engaged which eventually leads to abdominal strength and stability. Whether it’s standing postures, balancing postures, or inversions, yoga can strengthen your core.

8 yoga poses to strengthen and define your abdominal muscles 

It’s time to wake your entire core system! If you want to look in the mirror one day and see those toned abs, you must understand the importance of working on your core region. If you do not have the time or the money to visit the gym regularly, that’s okay. Just simply grab a mat and read the list below to learn about the different yoga postures that will strengthen and stabilize your abdominal muscles.

1. Plank Pose (Phalakasana)


We all know that when it comes to developing abs, the plank is a great pose. It is an ideal full core workout because it engages the internal and external abdominal muscles such as the obliques, transverse, etc.

This pose seems easy at first but it’s more challenging than one would suppose. You can try holding the pose for 15 to 20 seconds if it’s your first time. Eventually, you can increase the duration as you get better at it.

Directions:

  • Go on all fours on the yoga mat. To get into the plank position, walk your feet behind you to keep your legs straight.
  • Your shoulders must be parallel to the floor. Keep a hip-width distance between your hands but keep your feet close together. Keep your arms straight and make sure your buttocks are not sticking up nor are they sagging down.
  • Hold the posture for 3 to 5 breaths.

2. Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)


This side pose is ideal for building strength and endurance in the core body. It mainly targets the internal and external obliques which are important in developing strong abdominal muscles.

Directions:

  • Start by getting into a high push-up position.
  • Whilst keeping your right hand planted on the mat, turn your entire body sideways to face the left wall. To have straight legs, flex your feet.
  • Stack your left foot over your right foot, left leg over the right leg. If you require more stability or balance, feel free to place one foot in front of the other instead. For beginners, you can modify the pose by resting your right knee on the mat directly under your hip.
  • Reach out your left arm to the ceiling while simultaneously lifting your left hip and breathing deeply. Hold the posture for a minimum of five breath cycles.
  • After doing the pose, you can rest and try doing it again two more times. When you’re done, switch to the other side.

3. Boat Pose (Navasana)



The boat pose is one of the standard yoga postures for building core strength. It is great for increasing stability and mobility.

Directions:

  • Be in a seated position on the mat with your legs extended in front of you. Sit up straight to lengthen your spine before you slowly lean back while keeping your knees bent. Just proceed on leaning back until your feet are lifted from the floor.
  • Flex your feet to keep them engaged. If it’s a must, grab onto your bent knees to maintain the lengthening of your spine.
  • Hold the pose while taking deep breaths. Inhale to keep your spine lengthened. Exhale to engage your abdominal muscles.

4. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)



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Core strength isn’t just about focusing on your abs. It’s also important to give your back some attention too. The bridge pose is an amazing pose for stretching the back.

Directions:

  • The starting position is lying on your back on the mat with your knees bent and feet planted on the floor. Keep your knees aligned to keep them parallel to your ankles or heels, ensuring better leverage.
  • While exhaling, press down on your feet to lift your hips from the floor. Bend your arms at a 90-degree angle to serve as support as you also raise your upper body.
  • Maintain the position by steadily breathing in and out. Hold it for 10 to 20 breaths.

5. Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)


Other than being good at strengthening the muscles in the shoulders and arms, the Downward Dog pose is also effective in building strong abdominal muscles.

Directions:

  • Go on a tabletop position with your hands and knees on the mat. Your hands must be a few inches ahead of your shoulders while your knees must be directly under your hips. Spread your fingers and turn your toes.
  • Exhale as you lift your knees off the mat. You can keep your knees slightly bent at first. Keep your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis by drawing your sitting bones toward the ceiling.
  • While releasing your breath, push your top thighs and buttocks back and up. Straighten your knees but do not lock them. Push against your hands while firming your shoulder blades against your back. Keep your head in the space between your upper arms.
  • Remain in the position for 10 breaths or more.

6. Dolphin Plank Pose (Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana)


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Its name is coined from the idea that the pose is a fusion of the “Plank Pose” and the “Dolphin Pose”. It is also ideal for building strength in the core muscles. As you do this pose, you will find that it engages your abs more than the normal planking.

Directions:

  • Start by being on your hands and knees on the mat. Slowly lower each elbow to the floor but keep your arms parallel to each other.
  • Curl your toes and lift your knees off the mat. Reposition yourself as you must to make your body appear long and flat, like a straight line.
  • Hold the posture for at least 15 to 50 seconds. Rest then do the same pose two more times.

7. Chair Pose with a twist



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This pose is great for beginners to work on their side and front abs. It helps build strength and stability in the core system—and it’s very easy to do!

Directions:

  • Begin by being in a standing position.
  • Inhale as you extend your arms up to the ceiling.
  • Exhale as you sit back as if you are sitting on an imaginary chair. Put your hands together above your chest in a prayer position.
  • Sustain a strong stance with your hips aligned and feet planted firmly on the floor. Take a deep breath to further lengthen your spine.
  • Exhale to slightly rotate your torso to the right. There’s no need to twist yourself too far.
  • Hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths before returning to a neutral position. Then, do the same for the left side.

8. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)


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The Cobra pose is a nice, relaxing stretch that is good for increasing strength in the core. It also improves the flexibility of the spine and alleviates pain caused by mentrual cramps. This pose is also beneficial for the abdominal organs.

Directions:

  • Lie on the mat on your belly. Keep your legs together with your toes firmly planted on the ground and hands aligned to your chest.
  • As you inhale, engage your entire core to smoothly lift your upper body off the mat. Keep your pelvis on the mat and your elbows are close or pressed on the sides of your body. Meanwhile, your chest must be opened and your shoulder blades are drawn downward.
  • Maintain the pose for around 7 breaths before relaxing.

Want to do yoga practice for the core? Join the best class!

It’s great that you started learning yoga at home. But once you have the chance, try joining a core yoga class! Being in the right environment and having a certified personal trainer, such as a yoga instructor, will allow you to understand and execute yoga poses better. By building core strength and stability, you will have increased physical strength, endurance, and energy to perform well in your everyday activities.

About the Author​

Lynette is fully dedicated to the support and empowerment of the growing community of committed yoga students and teachers. As one of the Lead Instructors for Yoga Teacher Training, she is here to share tips on how to grow your profile as a yoga teacher or build a yoga business either physically or digitally.