Yoga is a great way to get a whole body workout. A typical session includes a variety of poses, called asanas, each with a focus on a different area of the body. Certain poses specifically target the abdominal muscles and can help slim down a bulging tummy. However, it is important to note that no weight-loss program is complete without proper diet and cardiovascular exercise. Even though yoga is generally considered a gentle form of exercise, it is important to check with your health care provider before beginning a new fitness program.
The first step in battling bulge is to lose fat through a modified diet and exercise regimen. In addition to a regular weight-loss program, yoga twists can be used to stretch and tone the muscles around the waist. Try a gentle seated twist by coming onto the mat in a simple cross-legged position. Sit up tall and breathe deeply. Inhale and reach your right arm up and rest it on the floor behind you. Exhale and twist around, looking over the right shoulder. Press your left hand against the outside of the right knee for leverage. Hold for up to one minute, breathing deeply, then repeat on the opposite side.
Along with twists, core yoga stretches help lengthen and tone the abdominal muscles. One of the best exercises to warm up the whole torso is a combination of two asanas, Cat and Cow. For Cat and Cow, come onto the mat on your hands and knees. Inhale and look up toward the ceiling, dropping the belly down. Allow the back to arch slightly and the stomach to fill with air. Exhale and arch the back up toward the ceiling, looking down toward the floor. Squeeze all the air out and press the abdominal muscles up toward the spine. Repeat for 10 to 20 cycles.
If you really want to get that slim waistline, you have to strengthen the core abdominal muscles. Core yoga exercises such as Boat pose and Plank pose are designed to do just that. In Boat pose you make an inverted "V" with your body, balancing on your buttocks. Try to raise the legs up straight without bending the knees. Use your arms for balance. Plank pose begins like a standard pushup. Come onto the mat resting on your hands and your toes with your body straight. However, instead of pushing the body up and down, simply hold this position for as long as possible, up to one minute. Breathe deeply.
Yoga is all about balance. It is important to balance your routine by practicing counter asanas, ones that work opposing muscle groups. After warming up the abdominal muscles and doing some good core work, balance your workout with a few stretches to open up the front of the body and strengthen the back. Some of the more common poses for this purpose are Bridge pose and Cobra. Both open the front of the body by stretching chest and abdominal muscles, while challenging the muscles along the spine. For Bridge pose lie flat on your back. Bend your knees and walk your feet in. Press the hips up toward the ceiling, coming into a modified backbend. Hold for several deep breaths.
A professional writer since 2008, Tracey Planinz writes articles on natural health, nutrition and fitness. She holds a doctorate and two professional certifications in her field, and continues to develop her education with additional classes and seminars. She has provided natural health consultations and private fitness instruction for clients in her local community.