Maybe you know the feeling… you go to put on a fabulous pair of pants and there it is — a little extra “you” poking out around the waistband. It happens! But here is an effective series of yoga postures that can help melt the fat and tone the muscles of your core. Break out your yoga mat and follow these eight moves for a seamless flow that is sure to rid you of that muffin top for good!
Read the descriptions below and follow along with the video above to blast that muffin top!
High Plank to Low Plank: This move engages the transverse abdominal muscles to stabilize and fire up all of the muscles in your core! Come into a pushup position with wrists directly under your shoulders and your heels directly above your toes. Engage the abdominal muscles by pulling them in toward the spine. Ensure a straight line runs from the crown of your head out through the bottoms of your heels — no sagging hips or swayed lower back. Hold here for one full inhale and exhale.
Next, keeping the abs firmly engaged, drop down on to the right forearm, followed by the left forearm. While you’re moving, try to keep your hips from shifting or dropping. Once you’re down on the forearms, recheck the core muscles and spinal alignment. Hold low plank for one full breath cycle.
To complete the move, press back up onto the right palm followed by the left palm, returning to high plank. Hold here for one full inhale and exhale.
If at any time you have trouble keeping the core muscles engaged and find your hips sagging or back swaying, do this whole sequence from the knees, keeping a straight line from the crown of the head through the tailbone throughout your movement.
Flying Table Top: Really get into the lower muscles in your abdomen with this move! From high plank, drop down onto your knees, coming into table-top position. Position your wrists directly underneath your shoulders, and your knees directly underneath your hips. Remove any arch in the low back by slightly tilting the tailbone down toward the floor — this is a subtle movement. Pull the abdominals in toward the spine and find your breath. Tuck your toes and engage the quadriceps to lift the knees and shins off the floor to one to two inches above your mat. Hold this position for four breath cycles. To move on to the next pose, shift the hips up and back, coming into downward facing dog.
Three-Legged Dog Knee-to-Nose Repetitions: From downward facing dog, inhale the right foot up toward the ceiling — keep your toes pointing down toward the mat and your hips square. On the exhale, round the back (like in cat pose), shift your weight over the hands, and pull the right knee as close to the nose as possible. Inhale to return the right foot back into downward facing dog. Repeat this movement 5 times before switching to the left side. Come into high plank to move on to the next pose.
You can mix up the abdominal muscles you’re working by changing the direction you’re driving the knee. Instead of the nose, try coming from three-legged dog to touching the armpit on each side of your body. This change will target those stubborn obliques!
Wrists hurting? Take breaks! It’s common after being on your hands for some time to have achy wrists. Be sure to protect them by taking breaks and stretching them out. As your yoga practice continues, you’ll be able to support your bodyweight on your hands for longer periods of time.
Side-Plank Hip Drops with Knee Tuck: Get ready to work every muscle in your torso! From high plank, shift over onto the right hand, turning the hips to the left side of your space. Your right wrist should be directly under the shoulders (which are stacked one on top of the other), completing a straight line out through the left fingertips that are reaching upward.
Your feet can be stacked on top of each other, or side by side, and hips are lifting up toward the sky. From this position, inhale and lower the hips down toward the floor, keeping the upper body open toward the left side of your space. Exhale to return back to side plank, lifting the left leg up away from the right leg. Inhale to bend the left knee, driving it up toward the left armpit (shortening, or “crunching”, the left obliques).
Modify: This move can be done from the knee of the bottom leg. Keep your top leg extended straight, and support yourself with the bottom leg.
Repeat the hip drop and left leg tuck 3 times before moving through high plank to repeat on the left side.
High to Low Boat: Boat pose is super effective in toning the core and it allows for many modifications to fit all ability levels. Come to a seated position on the mat. Bend your knees to bring your ankles in toward your sit bones. Start to lean back from the hips, keeping your heart lifted and your head in line with your spine. You may wish to stop here and hold this position if it feels challenging.
If you want to move on, lift the toes off the floor, finding a 90-degree angle in the knees. Hands reach out along the sides toward the front of the mat. Only stay here if you can keep your heart lifted and your spine straight. Full expression of high boat finds your feet extended out with straight legs at a 45-degree angle from the floor. Inhale, then exhale to lower the torso and legs down to hover two inches above the mat, coming into low boat. The only thing in contact with the floor in low boat is the sacrum and gluteal muscles.
If this is too challenging today, lower your torso and legs to rest on the floor. Inhale and exhale. On your next inhale, lift back up, leading with the heart and the tops of the feet, returning to your expression of high boat. Repeat for five cycles of High to Low Boat.
Frozen Stair Steps: You’ll need a yoga block for this static ab burner! Lay on your back and bring your knees up to form a 90 degree angle above the hips and flex your feet up toward the ceiling. Place the block in between your thighs and hold it there by squeezing the thighs together. Next, place your palms on the tops of your legs and press the legs into the hands while pressing your hands back into the legs. Push hard! Keeping your gaze up toward the ceiling lift the shoulder blades off of the mat. Hold this position for six breath cycles. It may not feel like much at first, but keep pressing and breathing.
Frozen Bicycles: Just like the frozen stair steps, you’ll use your block for this exercise. Move your block to the left thigh just above the knee. With your hands positioned behind your ears, twist at the belly button to bring the right elbow to hold the block in place on the left leg. It’s imperative to your spine health that you NOT pull on your head to do it. A good tip is to only touch your head behind your right ear with your right fingertips. Straighten your right leg until it hovers two inches from the mat with your toes flexed. Hold this position, pressing the right elbow into the block on the left leg for five breath cycles. Release to rest on your back before completing the move on the other side.
Scales Pose Preparation: You might enjoy trying the pose with the aid of two blocks that are the same height, but they are NOT necessary. Start in a simple, cross-legged posture (if lotus is a part of your practice, you can take it here). If you’re using blocks, place them by each hip, a few inches away from your body. If not using blocks, place your hands firmly on the floor next to your hips. Keep the heart lifted and the crown of the head reaching toward the sky.
On an inhale, contract the lower abdominal muscles up into ribs while pressing down into the palms to lift the sit bones off the floor. You will NOT lean forward to accomplish this move correctly — keep the chest lifted. Hold for one to two complete breath cycles before lowering back to the mat. Repeat five times, maybe challenging yourself to hold for three to four breaths on your last set.