How Can I Strengthen My Abs for Yoga Inversions?

Strengthen your abs for yoga inversions with core exercises.

Strengthen your abs for yoga inversions with core exercises.

Yoga inversions require you to have a fit body and a strong core. Inversion refers to any pose in which your head is below your feet, such as handstands, shoulder stands or legs up the wall. Strengthening your abs will help you enter these poses safely and effectively. Start a core-strengthening routine that you practice three times a week in preparation for inversions.

Plank

The plank strengthens the abdominal region for yoga inversions because you have to tighten your abs to hold your body up against gravity. Do this pose by lying face down on a mat on the floor with elbows underneath your shoulders. Lift your body up so you are resting on your forearms and toes. Your elbows should still be in alignment with your shoulders in this position. Tighten the abdominal region to prevent your belly from sagging and maintain this position for 30 seconds. Lower to start position and repeat three times. Increase your holding time to one minute as you get stronger.

Boat Pose

Boat pose requires you to hold your trunk up against the force of gravity, which effectively strengthens your abs. Do this pose by sitting on a mat on the floor with knees bent and close to your chest. Grasp the calves and shins of your legs with your hands as you lengthen your spine to sit up tall. Lean back slowly as you lift your feet off of the floor to form a V shape with your body. Release your hands from your legs and extend them in front of you. Your hands should be at shoulder height, parallel to the floor. Hold this position for three deep breaths before releasing. Repeat three times.

Roll Downs

Roll downs activate key abdominal muscles, including the transverse abdominus, obliques and rectus abdominus, in preparation for yoga inversions. Do this pose by sitting on a mat on the floor with knees bent and feet flat about hip-width apart. Sink your buttocks into the mat as you stretch your arms out in front of you at about chest level. Exhale, and slowly start to roll down onto the mat one vertebra at a time. Use your abdominals to help you lower your body and to protect your lower back. Pause once you reach the mat before rolling over to return to the start position. Repeat 10 times.

Breath Work

In addition to exercises, the way you breath can strengthen your abdominals in preparation for yoga inversion poses. According to yoga instructor Alisa Bauman in "Yoga Journal," you will activate the deep transversus abdominus muscle if you exhale with a Ha sound/breath. Make this sound by imagining you are trying to fog up a mirror. Practice the Ha breath in all of your poses when you normally exhale, such as when bending your trunk, knees or in holding postures such as plank pose.

 

About the Author

Jennifer Andrews specializes in writing about health, wellness and nutrition. Andrews has a Master of Science in physical therapy from the University of Alberta as well as a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. She teaches yoga and pilates and is a recent graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

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