Four Weeks Yoga Guide to Flatter and Firmer Lower Abs
Here is a fun quiz—all of us have got them, but one has got to really work out hard to make them visible, which part of the body is this elusive thing? That’s right, it’s the abs! Six pack or eight pack, columns of Greek god abs get obliterated behind the blubber of belly fat for most unless a serious workout routine is undertaken. The truth is simple- just as oil and water can’t be brought together to mix, fat and muscle remain separate entities with the former enveloping the latter. After wasting a lot of time on many experimental abs targeted fat-reduction techniques featuring in the market, it was only last winter that I could hit the problem hard and hit it right, and surprisingly enough it worked for me with the gentlest of exercise ways one could ever conceive. I successfully reduced tummy fat doing yoga!
The prime distinguishing factor between yoga and other exercise types is the level of consciousness that yoga makes the practitioner. Last winter, when I planned to come down heavily on my jelly-belly stomach, I made it a two-fold method. Sans the entire machine mayhem of running and doing crunches on autopilot, I chose to be the sole navigator of my own operation. Going through a compendium of yoga asanas with thrust for the lower abs, lower back, hamstrings, and thighs, I made a 30-40 minute asana sequence under the supervision of my Hatha Yoga coach, religiously practiced it every day and continued to do so for four weeks on a row along with following a detox, de-stress, vegetarian yogic diet. Too much of my incredulity and elation, there I was standing leaner and sculpted around the stomach by the end of the fourth week!
Here goes my tried and tested four weeks yoga recipe for reclaiming them abs, sculpted right to perfection, like hot and fresh out of a potter’s kiln —
Warm Up with Supta Padangusthasana or the Reclining Big Toe Hold
My loyalty to this posture shall never recede, all glory to the way the Reclining Big Toe Hold can hold power over nagging backaches. In reference to this posture, my instructor sheds light upon the fact that, for most people, there is a lack of equilibrium between the left half and the right half. This causes the overriding side to get tenser causing rigidity and also ups the risk of disc damage. This posture introduces a unique asymmetrical disposition when one leg is upped or stretched at one side, thus balancing out the asymmetrical configuration completely.
Besides this great bonus, the posture has its advantages for lower abs toning and also works as a hip opener. Here is how my instructor laid it out for me-
- Put a mat on the floor and lie flat on the back. Outstretch the legs and flex the feet for warming up, arms rested at the sides with palms down
- Fold the left leg and bring closer to the chest. Use your hands to straighten both shins as you fold the legs in. At this point, feel the pressure exerted in your lower tummy.
- Clutch the big toe of the left feet with your left hand using the thumb and the first two fingers. Now lengthen the leg to the furthest extent possible but make sure your shoulders and hips remain firmly rooted in the floor.
- Next step, clutch your left foot from the outside, wrapping your right hand around, and budge your hips further left. Stretch out the left leg diagonally over your body. Touch the floor as you complete.
During the whole process, one has to be alert not to lift the shoulder when the hip is lifted. The dristi or the focusing gaze of this posture at the last phase would be to look over the left shoulder when doing the pose in the left and vice versa as you do it on the right.
I hold on to this delicious posture for 6 to 7 breaths, feeling the tension crawling out of my spine and a compression in the loose tissues of my lower belly. Lower the leg and go on to repeat on the other side.
Navanasana or the Boat pose with Slight Modification
The boat pose has three different commonly known modifications but overall works as a deep hip flexor. I have been aware of the Boat’s benefits in maintaining metabolism with its positive effect on thyroid and prostate glands and realized that this directly relates to fat reduction. The addition of this core strength building asana in my abs making routine has been well advised.
- Stretch out on your back on the mat and bend both knees, with feet to the floor.
- Turn over, now belly to the floor, slowly start lifting your head, then your chest, your shoulders, and your arms. Extend your legs as you do this.
- Check to keep the inner sides of your feet pressed together, feel your toes spreading.
- Hoist your left arm, stretch it overhead and as you do, twist over your torso to the left. Go across your body with your right arm to reach your left side.
While the commonly known Boat yoga does not involve reaching on to the other side with the arms, this modification made this one more effective for my abs special routine.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or the Bridge Pose
For me, knowing my glutes started with this pose. Besides the Bridge’s awesome back stretching effect, I love it for the way it firms me up by lengthening my pelvis to my sternum. In my abs lift routine, I performed this posture with a certain grit and held it for quite long unlike in a relaxed manner I do it usually.
- Lie with feet apart to the width of the hips, aligning the knees perpendicularly over the ankles and arms on the floor.
- Hoist up the pelvis and feeling the tailbone drawing inwards.
- Firmly press hands to the ground thus gaining leverage as chest to pelvis region is pulled further up, with the spine forming in an arch.
As a modification, to bring in more impact, I lifted one leg at a time, straightened up in the air firmly in the final bridge posture.
Half Boat with Belly Crunch
Not willing to miss out on the crunch effect on my lower belly yoga operation, with a little consultation with my instructor, the Boat was seamlessly modified into the routine in a half crunch. This is the posture where it can get a tad sweaty, so I pushed this one to the last.
- Cross over the right ankle to the left knee as you lie on your back.
- Pull up your left knee, wrapping your hands around it, reach this way toward the chest
- Fold your hands behind your head.
Enjoy the swing as you “boat” and hop out of the mat, feeling energized and firmed up in the stomach!