A guide to flattening the belly with a few simple moves.
Great digestion is the basis and the beginning of health and healing. Now, I know we’re all constantly inundated with new ideas for ab workouts (which are very important, indeed) but this post will focus instead on a few simple yoga poses to help reduce bloating, flatten the belly and let your hard-earned abs shine. I swear by these poses! Since it’s the last Sunday in March and this will be the final post in my Radiant Yogis series, I’ve added a bonus (advanced!) 5th pose for you to try. Stay tuned for a whole new Exquisite Practice theme in April (hint: April showers bring May… FLOWERS! And herbs, and vegetables).
First Thing’s First: Mula Bandha Breathing
Mula Bandha breathing (which interestingly is similar to kegel exercises) will tone your entire abdominal wall and pelvic floor. It is imperative to a strong, healthy core and is immensely helpful when paired with your regular ab routine. Stand or sit up straight and take in a deep breath, filling your belly. As you breath out, press the air out with your abs, contracting all the way down through your sphincter (yes, your bum). Hold for a few seconds then repeat for a few minutes each day. And I won’t speak to the sexual benefits… you’ll just have to experience that for yourselves!
The Importance of Being Twisty
Twists are very cleansing and act like a massage for your inner organs. Sometimes I focus my yoga class on twists and sneak them in whenever I can throughout the practice. The next day, how shall I say this? I ‘empty right out’! After a few twisty days in a row, my metabolism is pumping, my digestion is healthy, and my belly looks flatter. One of my favorite twists is from high lunge, with a variation of opening the arms from prayer to deepen the twist and challenge your balance.
A twist from tabletop has the amazing double effect of boosting the metabolism AND stretching the neck and upper back (a frustrating place to try to stretch after a particularly stressful week). From tabletop, twist toward the left, bringing your right arm straight under your left and place your upper back and back of the head on the mat. Keep the belly soft and breathe.
Plow is amazing for your thyroid and to stretch the entire back body. I like to call it the Fountain of Youth pose because of its anti-aging effects on the body. When you’re in the pose, keep your throat relaxed and support your back if needed. An excellent variation is the shoulder stand inversion. Coming out of this, roll down slowly, one vertebrae at a time. Does anyone else feel like a changed woman after this pose? Let me know in the comments below!
Bonus! Peacock Pose:
As I mentioned above, this arm balance is an advanced pose and took me quite a while to achieve, so take it slow and have patience with yourself. As with twists, peacock is like giving your internal organs a nice massage, bringing blood flow to the area, waking them up and getting your digestion moving. Start in an easy cross-legged position, or in lotus. Rock forward onto your hands and knees, directing your fingers back toward you. Place your abdomen on your elbows and dare your weight forward, lifting your crossed legs up behind you. Keep your elbows parallel, your shoulders strong, and your gaze a few inches in front of you. Stay here, breathing, for a few moments, then come back out of it shaking out your legs. Let me know how it goes!
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