Strengthen your core with these key poses.
A regular yoga practice can prep your tummy for bikini season faster than banging out a million crunches.
In general, yoga is full of core-strengthening moves, but these stomach toners take top honors. They challenge your balance and stability and force your obliques, hip flexors, and even glutes to team up, helping you sculpt a seriously strong (and sexy) midsection.
Perform the following moves as a “flow” to raise your heart rate and torch more calories each session. Begin with Plank to Side Plank on your left side, then flow directly into Chaturanga to Plank before returning to Side Plank on your right side. Repeat the sequence, then lower to Forearm Plank. Rest on your knees for 30 seconds, then come into Boat into Half Boat. Repeat the entire sequence three times.
Position your hands under your shoulders, arms straight and legs extended behind you, feet hip-width apart. This is Plank (a). Bring your left palm to the center of the mat and roll onto the outer edge of your left foot. Stack your right foot on top of your left. Extend your right arm up and hold for eight breaths (b). Return to Plank.
From Plank (a), bend your elbows 90 degrees, keeping your upper arms close to your body and lowering your shoulders to elbow height. Your upper back should be broad and the tips of your shoulder blades should be drawn down your back (b). Return to Plank.
Place your forearms on the floor shoulder-width apart, elbows directly under your shoulders. Make sure your toes are curled under, your legs are extended straight behind you, and your feet are hip-width apart. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Brace your abs and hold for one minute.
Sit upright on the floor, then lean back, extending your arms straight in front of you and lifting your legs together off the floor. This is Boat (a). Hold for three breaths, then lower your back and legs toward the floor without letting them touch it. This is Half Boat (b). Hold for three breaths; return to Boat. Repeat 10 times.
Adapted from The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga (Rodale), by Kathryn Budig. Available wherever books are sold.