Don't be envious of those gals that sport a six-pack around their middle -- it takes a lot of work to keep that definition. What you should aim for is a consistently executed roster of exercises at least every other day to tighten your stomach muscles. Make sure to perform maneuvers for all the major muscles of your abs, which include the transversus abdominis, the rectus abdominis and the obliques.
Break out your mat for stomach-tightening yoga moves. The boat pose is demanding, but if you persist, you'll be happy with the results. Start with a modified version of boat by sitting on your mat with your legs extended in front of you. Lift your feet off the mat and bend your knees until your lower legs are perpendicular to the floor. Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight and raise your arms to shoulder height in front of you. Contract your abs while you take slow and even breaths. Work your way up to holding half-boat pose for one minute, and then attempt the full version. Sit on your mat and raise both legs to a 60-degree angle. Lean back slightly and raise your arms to shoulder height. You will resemble a V shape. Hold full boat pose for 30 seconds and work your way up to one minute over time.
Lie on your back for a series of supine bicycle crunches that, like the boat pose, will tighten all of your stomach muscles. Bend your knees and lift your feet off the floor until your upper legs are perpendicular to the floor and your lower legs are parallel to the floor. Interlace your fingers behind your head. Contract your abdominal muscles as you exhale and simultaneously raise your head and shoulders off the mat while you bring your right elbow toward your left knee. Straighten your right leg at the same time. Inhale and release back to the floor. Repeat the maneuver on the other side and do as many reps as you can until you become fatigued.
Come onto all fours for a workout that targets your six-pack muscles, the rectus abdominis, and your lower belly muscle, the transversus abdominis. Exhale and lower your head while raising your right knee toward your head. Inhale and raise your head while simultaneously extending your right leg behind you and your right arm in front of you, keeping them parallel to the floor. Perform 10 reps on each side, working your way up to 20 or more per side over time.
- Yoga Journal: Forget Six-Pack Abs
- Yoga Journal: Full Boat Pose
- American Council on Exercise: Supine Bicycle Crunches
- Kundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress; Maya Fiennes; DVD
- During all stomach-tightening exercises, contract your abs for the greatest effectiveness.
Linda Kaban is a certified yoga teacher and professional life coach who specializes in helping people achieve their fitness goals. With a bachelor's degree in the humanities, Kaban has been writing since 1998 and has been published in YOGALife magazine along with other healthy living publications.