After Trying This Yoga Sequence, You'll Never Do Another Crunch
faSkip the crunches and hop on your mat for this effective yoga workout designed to target the abs. Begin with a few Sun Salutations to warm up. Then move through this 14-pose sequence on the right side and repeat on the left.
Downward Facing Dog
- Come onto the hands and knees with your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
- Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into the classic upside-down-V shape called Downward Facing Dog.
- Spread your fingers wide, and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button.
- Breathe deeply for five breaths.
Arching Three-Legged Dog
- From Down Dog step both feet together so your big toes are touching.
- Keeping the left heel on the mat, raise your right leg in the air coming into Three-Legged Dog, and then bend the knee. Actively squeeze your right heel in toward your hip, lifting the knee high.
- Lift your head up, and turn to look over your left shoulder, arching the spine. Think about drawing your head and foot toward each other (if your spine is extremely flexible, your foot and head will touch).
- Hold here for five breaths, keeping the belly still and breathing into the chest.
Knee Up Plank
- From Arching Three-Legged Dog, inhale to draw the right knee into the chest bringing the shoulders above the wrists.
- Hold here for five strong breaths.
- From Knee Up Plank plant your right foot between your hands. Turn your left heel in slightly, press into your feet, and lift your torso up.
- Keeping the front thigh parallel with the floor, raise your arms in the air and press your palms together. Draw your shoulder blades down toward your hips, and gaze up toward your hands.
- Stay here for five breaths.
- From Warrior 1, lean forward, lift your back leg off the ground and bring the torso parallel with the floor.
- Actively extend the arms away from you, and engage the abs for five breaths.
One-Legged, Four-Limbed Staff
- From Warrior 3, lower the hands to the floor in plank position.
- Keep the left leg lifted and hop or step the right foot back, bending the elbows into Four-Limbed Staff.
- Hold here for five breaths.
Beginner's Sage (Side Plank)
- From One-Legged, Four-Limbed Staff, straighten the arms and roll the torso to the right, coming to balance on the right hand and the outside edge of the flexed right foot.
- Stack the left foot on top of the right and reach your left arm straight above you.
- Stay here in Side Plank for five deep breaths, trying to keep your core strong and the pose steady.
- From Side Plank, plant the sole of the right foot on the mat and inhale to raise the left leg into the air.
- Gaze at your lifted hand, and hold Balancing Star for five breaths. Keeping your core engaged will help you stay balanced.
- From Balancing Star, release your top hand to the mat and press back into Down Dog. Lower the elbows to the mat.
- Either relax the head between your arms or direct your gaze between the palms. Hold for five breaths.
- Give your arms a little break by releasing your knees to the mat. Sit back on the heels and extend the arms in front of you.
- Lengthen your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders.
- Stay here for five calming breaths.
- From Child's Pose, lift the torso up and bring the legs between your hands, extending the legs in front of you.
- Bend the knees, and lift your legs off the floor, bringing your knees in toward your chest with your shins parallel to the floor. Sit up as tall as you can, and slowly begin to straighten your legs. Your legs don't need to be straight since the action of keeping your spine long and drawing your belly in is what works your abs here.
- Hold Boat pose for five breaths.
- From Boat, release your feet to the mat and extend the legs out in front of you.
- Place your hands behind your hips about six to eight inches, with your fingers pointing toward your toes.
- As you inhale, press into your hands and feet firmly, lifting your hips into the air. Lift them as high as you can so your spine is in a long line. Slowly release your head back, looking behind you, and open through your throat.
- Stay here in Intense East pose for five deep breaths.
- From Intense East, lower your hips to the floor and sit up coming into an Extended Squat.
- Release your hands to the floor, and walk them out in front of you, allowing your belly to fall between your knees.
- Stay here for five deep breaths.
- From Extended Squat, place your hands shoulder-width distance apart on the mat. Spread your fingers as wide as you can, creating a strong, stable base.
- Straighten your legs slightly, placing your knees as high up onto your triceps (back of your arms) as possible. Slowly shift the weight into your palms and lift your feet off the ground. Touch the toes together and squeeze the knees in to help you stay balanced and to give you more lift.
- Stay here for five breaths, gazing at the floor in front of you.
- Step or hop the feet back, and find your way into Downward Facing Dog. Repeat this sequence on the left side.