Monday, 28 February 2011

Flat Stomach Exercises

 

I find it interesting that there are about 2000 exercises and variations in yoga and only a handful of them are specifically designed for the stomach muscles. The reason is that most yoga exercises work on more than just the one muscle group at the same time. For example, when you come in and out of Triangle and if you do it slowly and with control, you will have used your abdominal muscles too. Warrior Three is also a great exercise for a flat stomach, as are Plank and Head Stand.

Weak stomach muscles cause back pain
In yoga, exercising the stomach muscles has a practical rather than an aesthetic reason. It is well known that weak stomach muscles, not weak back muscles, are one of the main causes of back pain. So keeping your core muscles strong will also keep the back pain away.

The stronger the stomach, the better the balance
The ability to have a good balance is also attributed to stronger stomach muscles. Try staying in Tree with a loose-hanging stomach and then do it again with tightened muscles. You will notice immediately that it is much easier to hold the balance if you tighten your core.

The Boat pose
I am demonstrating the most popular stomach-muscles exercise in yoga: the Boat pose. If you are a beginner, start with the first photo. But whatever the level, this exercise is a tremendous strengthener, and if a leaner stomach is your goal, you are guaranteed to achieve it in a very short period of time.

A memo for Boat:
* take 5 deep breaths in the pose, then rest and repeat the exercise 3-5 times. When you rest on the floor, stretch the body in every direction
* when in the pose, pull the stomach in so that it is flat and not dome shaped. This is very important, otherwise you will not get a flat stomach
* don't hold your breath while in the pose. Breathe through the exercise however hard it may be and remember to relax the shoulders and the face
* it is normal for the body to shake
* do this exercise instead of the usual stomach crunches when in the gym or at home
* always smile when doing physically demanding exercises. Smiling is the best antidote to wrinkles. It also makes exercising a pleasure, which is what it is supposed to be!

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