For most people, getting fit not only makes you feel better physically and mentally, desired weight loss happens as a matter of course. There seems to be, however, parts of the body from which fat seems stubborn to leave: “love handles” and the belly.
Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise that contributes to both physical and emotional well-being. Developed in India thousands of years ago as a means to join body, mind, and spirit in a place of peace, yoga has a place in a modern exercise regime to rid ourselves of physical and mental toxins and—you guessed it—belly fat.
Below are ten yoga positions found to strengthen and tone your midsection. All exercises are best done on a thin cushioned firm surface, such as a yoga mat.
Yoga Belly Fat Workout
This poses will relax your mind and work your body!
1. Pontoon Pose (Naukasana)
An Indian crunch, this yoga pose strengthens lungs, liver, and pancreas while reducing belly fat. It improves circulation and tones abdominal, leg, upper arm, and back muscles.
- Sit on your mat with your knees comfortably bent, your feet firmly on the ground, and arms beside your body.
- Inhale and extend your spine into a straight line. Exhale and slightly tuck in your chin.
- Stretch your arms out in front of you as you exhale, keeping your fingers spread wide. Stay here for a few breaths.
- When you’re ready, exhale and bring your body to a “v” position by leaning back slightly and extending your legs straight at a 45° angle to the floor. The joints of the big toes on each foot should touch.
- Keep head and neck in line with your shoulders. Eyes, fingers, and toes should be in line.
- You will feel your core muscles tighten. Continue breathing deeply and hold the boat position for 15 seconds.
- Release and exhale, returning your feet to the floor and lying on your back.
- Repeat 5 times with a 15-second break between reps.
2. Plank (Kumbhakasana)
This simple exercise engages several different muscle groups in the arms, legs, back, buttocks, and core.
- Begin by kneeling. Reach forward and place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart, with fingers slightly apart and pointing forward.
- Raise your upper body with your arms so that they are perpendicular to the floor. Stretch your legs back until fully extended, the balls of your feet on the floor.
- With head in a straight line with your back, butt, and legs, inhale as you stretch your spine and pull in your abdominal muscles. Think of your body as one straight, long, strong plank of wood.
- Take deep measured breaths and maintain this position for 15-30 seconds. (Start slowly at the lower range and work your way up to a 30-second duration.)
- Exhale as you slowly drop your knees to the floor, rest for 15 seconds, then repeat steps 2-5. Do this 5 times.
If your back begins to feel the strain, concentrate on shifting the responsibility of holding your body’s weight to your core muscles. This pose should be avoided if you have lower back or shoulder injury or if you suffer from hypertension.
3. Wind Relieving Pose (Pavanamukthasan)
This pose feels great—a nice, slow lower back stretch with a little self-hug in the middle. Strengthens abdomen, hips, and thighs. Effective in promoting digestion and relieving constipation and gas (“wind”).
- Lie on your back with legs straight, feet together, and arms at your sides.
- Inhale, then bring your right knees up to your chest as you exhale and grasp your leg just below the knee with your hands. Pull your knees as close to your chest as you comfortably can to feel the stretch in your lower back.
- Exhale and adjust yourself so that the small of your back touches the ground.
- Lift your upper back and bring your chin up to your knee. Stay for a few breaths.
- Exhale and release your upper back, arms, and leg.
- Repeat with your other leg.
- Exhale and release.
- Repeat, bringing both legs into your chest.
- Release both legs and allow them to lower to the floor as arms return to your sides. Rest for 15 seconds.
- Repeat 5 times.
4. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
This stretch improves digestion and tightens your abdominal muscles.
- Start on the ground with your belly to the ground.
- Reach back with your arms and grab the tops of your feet from the outside. The right foot should be held by the right hand and the left by the left.
- Relax your chin to the ground and ease your glutes and hips.
- Inhale and lift up the pose by pushing your shoulder blades together and raising your heart. Exhale and kick your toes upward as you pull with equal force with your arms.
- Inhale and exhale until you reach the limit of your stretch.
- To let go of the pose, release your legs and lay your arms under your head. Stay here for a few breaths.
- Repeat 5 times.
You can modify pose by reaching for your ankles instead of your feet.
5. Cobra Pose (Bhujang asana)
This pose increases spine strength and flexibility, but it should not be performed by pregnant women or people suffering from back pain or a hernia.
- Lie down on your belly with your legs in line with your hips and the tops of your feet touching the floor.
- Press your toes and knees into the floor to loosen your hips. Roll your tailbone back for better stability.
- Inhale as you lengthen your spine and bring your palms on the floor beside your chest, keeping your elbow along your sides.
- Push into your hands,rotating your shoulder back to push your shoulder blades together.
- Stretch all the way out to the crown your head, slightly curving your spine upward and back.
- Gently release and rest.
- Repeat 5 times with a break in between each pose.
6. Boat Pose (Naukasana)
This pose is very similar to the pontoon pose, but it’s slightly less intense.
- Sit down with your back straight and your legs tucked to your chest, resting your hands on your ankles.
- Rest your palms beside your hips and inhale, lengthening your spine in the process. Make sure you are sitting into your hips and not putting pressure on your tailbone.
- Inhale and bring your legs out in front of you, keeping them slightly bent at the knee with each leg in line with your hips.
- Place your arms out in front of you.
- Stay here for a few breaths.
- Exhale and bring your knees to your chest. Inhale and lengthen your spine, hugging your knees close to your chest.
- Exhale and bring your forehead to your knees.
- Release and sit cross-legged to rest.
- Repeat this pose 5 times with 15 seconds of rest in between.
7. Chair Pose (Uthkatasana)
This pose is great to lengthen and readjust the spine. It also works out the hips, belly, back muscles, and thighs. If you have a knee injury, this will be one exercise you’ll want to skip out on.
- Stand tall with your feet together.
- Exhale and drop your chin to your chest and your gaze towards the ground.
- Lift your toes and press into your ball joints and heels.
- Go up on your tiptoes and create a small distance between your heels.
- Bring your hands to your waist and exhale as you bend your knees. Keep your tailbone to the ground to prevent our pelvis from rolling backward. Your sit bones should be in line with your heels. If your knees hurt, keep your feet further apart.
- Lengthen your neck with your chin slightly towards your chest.
- Breathe in and reach towards the sky, with your shoulders open and your elbows slightly bent. Your hands should be open and facing each other.
- Exhale and sit deeper into your pose.
- Breathe normally as you hold the position for as long as you can.
- To release, push into your feet and stand tall, stretching your body towards the sky.
- Rest and repeat.
8. Bridge Pose (Setubandhasana)
This pose is great for loosening up stiff muscles in the hips and back. It also stretches the abdominal and side muscles on your torso.
- Lie down on your back with your hips open and your heels touching. Your toes should be facing outwards and only your sit bones and heels should be touching the ground.
- Hold onto your outer thighs, prop yourself on your elbows and reach your head back.
- Sit into your hips, engage your core and breathe into your chest as you reach above your head with your hands.
- Press your palms into the ground with your fingers towards your toes.
- Inhale and roll onto the top of your head, using your palms for stability and support.
- Point your toes and lengthen your legs.
- Hold for a few breaths and release by rolling your arms and hips back into the original position.
- Inhale and repeat.
9. Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1)
Warrior 1 strengthens your core, thighs, and buttocks while promoting a relaxing state of mind. It’s also appropriate for nearly everyone, so don’t be afraid to give it a try.
- Start in downward facing dog with your arms should-width apart and your feet at hip’s width apart.
- Look forward and step your right foot beside your right hand.
- Bend your right knee and ground your feet into the floor.
- Pull your belly toward your spine and lift up your torso nice and tall. Face the front of your mat.
- Lower your hips and find your center of gravity.
- Push your weight into your back leg and pull your left thigh inward to keep your hips open and wide.
- Push into your front leg into a 90-degreee angle.
- Bring your arm upwards and lower your shoulders.
- Push off your right leg and allow yourself to come back gently into the original pose.
- Repeat for the opposite leg.
10. Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana 2)
Perform this exercise right after Warrior 1 to get the full benefits.
- Stand tall with your feet wide apart, facing the side of your mat.
- Externally rotate your right foot and hip joint.
- Send your right knee forward and bend it at a 90-degree angle. Your knee should be in line with your ankle.
- Keep your pelvis in a neutral position, opening your inner thighs.
- Lift your chest and bring your arms out in line with your legs and shoulder.
- Suck in your belly and breathe into your upper chest.
- Hold for 5 deep breaths
- Repeat for the left leg.
Add these yoga for belly fat poses to your daily workout routine and you’ll have a trim tummy in no time!