When most people think about a strong core, they envision being able to flaunt six-pack abs and a washboard stomach – and while this is definitely motivation for practising yoga, there is a multitude of other benefits that come with a toned tummy. Your core is your body’s powerhouse, protecting the inner organs and hosting part of the central nervous system, so it’s essential to keep it strong.
Savoir Flair tapped the yoga gurus at Dubai’s Urban Yoga, asking its resident expert Brittany D. Costa to reveal her top three core-strengthening yoga poses. Each will not only guarantee a toned tummy, but also leave you feeling refreshed, inspired, and mentally stronger.
How to Do It: Sit on the floor with your knees bent, hands under your knees, back straight, shoulders drawn away from ears and back, and chest lifted (step 1). Lift one foot at a time into a tabletop position (step 2), shins parallel to the floor (step 3). For an advanced option, attempt to straighten your legs at the knees and point your toes toward the sky, releasing your hands (step 4). To modify, place your hands on the floor, behind your lower back. Start by holding for ten seconds, and work your way up to between 30 and 60 seconds.
What to Avoid: Avoid rounding your spine, particularly your upper back. Try to lengthen the front of your body.
Why It Works: Because this pose challenges balance, it not only strengthens the abdominal muscles, but also the hip flexors and spine.
How to Do It: Place your palms under your shoulders (keeping your chest parallel to the floor) and lengthen your legs behind you, reaching back from the heels. Spread your fingers wide, pressing your hands into the ground as if pressing into wet sand. Zip your inner thighs together, drawing your navel into the spine (step 1). For an advanced option, lift one extremity at a time (step 2). To modify, soften your knees toward the floor. Start by holding for ten seconds, and work your way up to between 30 and 60 seconds.
What to Avoid: Avoid dropping your hips low, maintaining a long line from the crown of your head through to your heels. Prevent any shoulder strain by spreading your shoulder blades away from the spine and lifting through the upper back, pressing away from the ground.
Why It Works: This pose tones the abdominal muscles and strengthens the arms, wrists, spine, and thighs.
The Tiger Curl
How to Do it: From a downward-facing dog pose (step 1), inhale to extend your right leg into a downward-dog split (step 2). Exhale, shift your body forward onto the tips of your toes on your left foot, and bring your right knee to your nose, rounding your upper back and lifting your navel toward your spine (step 3) before returning to the downward-dog split. Repeat three to five times before switching sides. For an advanced option, bring your knee to either elbow before returning to the downward-dog split. To modify, soften your opposite knee toward the ground for support.
What to Avoid: Avoid drawing your shoulders together when entering the downward-facing dog pose, and lift your leg slowly when entering the split to prevent any hip strain.
Why It Works: This pose strengthens the abdominal muscles and tones the glutes, arms, and shoulders whilst opening up the hip flexors.
All three of these poses are incredibly convenient to do, especially as no equipment is necessary and you can do them anywhere! Try three rounds of each when you wake up and before going to bed to work toward maintaining a strong core. Have fun with it; try different variations to challenge instability and increase your range of motion. To learn more variations and put them into practice within a full sequence, book in for a session at Urban Yoga, where the diverse team of yogis will guide you though a session that will leave you feeling physically stronger and ready to tackle anything.