This 15-Minute Yoga-Inspired Workout Will Blast Your Core Into Serious Shape

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Have you ever heard the saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym”? While that may be true – considering you need to lose overall body fat in order to see definition in your abdominals – the saying just as well may be “Abs are made on the yoga mat!” Practicing yoga can benefit your body in many ways – it is scientifically proven to reduce stress, move lymphatic fluid, and increase metabolism. All of those things contribute to helping you lose body fat, especially in the abdominal area. Almost all yoga poses strengthen your back and core muscles because yoga requires balance, but you can definitely target your midsection with the right yoga routine.

How Yoga Slims Your Core

Claiming that yoga can help you get a six pack may seem crazy, but there is science to back it up. Most people gain weight around their midsection because of stress. In a study completed by Yale University, researchers found that stress is particularly great at causing people (especially women) to store fat around the centrally located organs. This is due to the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol exposure increases the visceral fat content in humans and animals – that is the type of fat that is hard to burn and gathers at the waist and hips.

Some people are more prone to cortisol release than others, and that may have something to do with vagal tone. But, the good news is that yoga can increase your vagal tone and make you more resilient towards stress over time. In short, that means that practicing yoga can actually help you lose weight and keep it off for longer, getting you out of the stress-related weight gain cycle. And to top it off, most yoga classes can be found for free online, so you do not have to drive to gym or pay for expensive memberships.

Compiled below is 15-minute yoga workout that will blast your core into serious shape! If you want a longer workout, you can always do it more than once or perform double the reps on each pose.

Warm-Up With Sun Salutations

Before you jump right in to your ab workout, you want to make sure you are properly warmed up. You can warm up however you like, it just depends how much time you have. For example, you can take a 1-hour walk, run for 30 minutes, do 15 minutes of jump-roping, or jump on a trampoline for 15 minutes. If you prefer to have a full yoga workout, one of the best ways to warm up is with Sun Salutations.

And do not let the name fool you – many people think they can only practice Sun Salutations in the morning, and while there are some great benefits to that, the reality is that you can practice them any time of day! Sun Salutations are energizing and can get you breath and body in sync, even just one or two rounds is a pick-me-up that feels as good as a cup of coffee. Here’s how it’s done:

Sun Salutation A (Surya Namakar A)

Sun Salutation A

  1. Tadasana — Standing Mountain Pose

Stand at the front of your mat with your feet hip-width apart. Press your palms together at your sternum in prayer position. Take a few deep breaths.

  • Urdhva Hastasana — Upward Salute
  • Inhale as you lift your arms out to the sides and over your heard. Gently arch your back and gaze toward the sky.

  • Uttanasana — Standing Forward Fold
  • Exhale as you fold forward from the hips. Bend your knees to take the pressure off your hamstrings.

  • Ardha Uttanasana — Half Standing Forward Fold
  • Inhale as you lift your torso halfway, lengthening your spine forward. You can place your hands on your shins or on the floor, depending on your flexibility.

  • Chaturanga Dandasana — Four-Limbed Staff Pose
  • Exhale as you step or jump back into Plank Pose. Lower into Chaturanga (keeping elbows tucked to your sides) and drop your knees if needed.

  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana — Upward-Facing Dog Pose
  • Inhale as you sweep your chest forward and lengthen your arms. Draw your shoulders back and lift your heart to the sky. If you press through the top of your feet it will help engage your legs.

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana — Downward-Facing Dog Pose
  • Exhale as you lift your hips and come into Downward Facing Dog Pose. Bend your knees if you need to and make sure your push through your hands.  Feel the length in your spin as you draw your hips towards the sky.

  • Ardha Uttanasana — Half Standing Forward Fold
  • Inhale as you step or jump both feet between your hands. Lift your torso halfway, so that your back is flat. Your hands come to your shins or the floor.

  • Uttanasana — Standing Forward Fold
  • Exhale and release your torso over your thighs. Arms can hang down towards your mat or your can fold them under your head. Let the upper body release.

  • Urdhva Hastasana — Upward Salute
  • Inhale as you lift your arms out to the sides and over your heard. Gently arch your back and gaze toward the sky.

  • Tadasana — Mountain Pose
  • Exhale as you come back into Mountain Pose. Feet should be hip-width apart. Press your palms together at your sternum in prayer position. Take a few deep breaths. Repeat as needed to warm up.

    Yoga-Inspired Core Workout

    Now that you are warmed up, it’s time to target your core. Here are the poses to get you in the zone:

    Setu Bandha Sarvangasana — Bridge Pose

    Setu Bandha Sarvangasana — Bridge Pose

    This pose activates the glutes as well as the abdominals. Make sure you bring your belly in as tight as you can to support your lower back while doing this exercise.

    1. Lay on your yoga mat.
    2. Bend your knees and bring your feet as close to your sit bones as possible.
    3. Exhale, press into your feet, and lift your tailbone upwards so that your butt comes off the floor.
    4. Repeat this action for 8-10 breaths, inhaling with the upward motion and exhaling with the release.

    Supta Matsyendrasana — Supine Twist Pose

    Supta Matsyendrasana — Supine Twist Pose

    While this pose is generally thought of a relaxing one, you can perform it at a quicker pace to activate the oblique muscles.  As an added benefit, this pose is great for digestion so it can help decrease abdominal bloating.

    1. Lay on your yoga mat.
    2. Bend your right knee and cross it over your body towards the floor.
    3. Keep your shoulders square and glued to the floor.
    4. Exhale to deepen the twist.
    5. Upon release, inhale while you switch legs and exhale to stretch the opposite side.
    6. Perform for 10 breaths total.

    Paripurna Navasana — Boat Pose

    Paripurna Navasana — Boat Pose

    When you think of poses that help activate the core, this one is a no-brainer! If needed, you can modify this pose by bending the knees and keeping them lower to the ground. Just make sure your focus is on activating your core, and try your best not to put too much strain in the neck and shoulders.

    1. Begin in a seated position with knees bent and hands at your hips.
    2. Keep your spine straight and lift your legs off the ground.
    3. Draw your lower back in and lift your chest.
    4. Extend your arms along your sides with palms facing each other.
    5. Focus on keeping your body in a “V” shape.
    6. Say for 5 breaths or more if you are able.

    Marjaryasana — Cat/Cow Pose

    Marjaryasana — CatCow Pose

    The key to activating your core in this pose is to pick up the pace! Also, make sure you are drawing your lower belly up and in to protect your lower back.

    1. Start in a tabletop position.
    2. Begin with Cow Pose – inhale to drop your core towards the mat and lift your gaze upwards.
    3. Draw your shoulder blades away from your ears.
    4. Exhale and move into Cat Pose – draw your belly to your back and round your back towards the ceiling.
    5. Let your head reach down to the floor but don’t let it hang, keep the upper body active.
    6. Repeat this sequence 10-20 times.

    High Plank/Side Plank/Upward Plank Rotations

    High Plank/Side Plank/Upward Plank Rotations

    Everyone knows planks are amazing for your abs as well as your arms and back! Just this exercise alone will help tone your body, and strengthen your back so that you are less likely to get injured performing daily motions.

    1. Begin in High Plank with your feet slightly separated and your hands shoulder width apart. Drop your knees if it is too intense, but also do not be afraid to push yourself. Planks are more mental than anything!
    2. Shift your body to the left or right, whichever you prefer to do first. All of your weight will move to one side as you come into a Side Plank. This can be made easier by dropping the bottom leg to the floor.
    3. Hold side blank for 2-3 breaths, then roll back for Upward Plank. In this pose your arms hold your body up, facing the ceiling.
    4. From here, roll out into Side Plank (on the opposite side this time), hold for 2-3 breaths, and come back to High Plank.

    Kakasana — Crow Pose

    Kakasana — Crow Pose

    After a round of planks, you are ready for Crow Pose! For this one, you might want a few yoga props, specifically a yoga block and a blanket. If you have never done Crow Pose before, do not be afraid! It might mean falling over a few times, but that is part of the joy of yoga – trying and getting better over time. Even if you can not hit the pose perfectly, you will strengthen your body in the process of trying.

    1. Begin in a low squat with the yoga blanket folded at the front of your mat. If you are a beginner, start your squat on top of the yoga block like a little bird on a perch.
    2. Bring your hands (shoulder width apart) to the yoga mat and shift your weight into your fingertips.
    3. As you lift your feet up, tuck your knees into the armpit and balance your knees on slightly bent elbows. If you are afraid of falling, you can also place a yoga block under your forehead for support.
    4. Remember, you elbows are like a little shelf for your legs! This will help you keep stable in the pose.
    5. To come out, jump the legs back into a plank pose.

    Savasana and Meditation

    Savasana and Meditation

    Do not forget, even though this is technically a “yoga workout,” the key to long term weight loss around the midsection is to reduce stress! Even after you practice a core workout like this one, you should take a minute or two for Corpse Pose (Savasana) and a quick meditation.

    If you have trouble laying down for Corpse Pose and feel too fidgety to relax, try placing an eye pillow over your eyes and set a timer for 1-2 minutes. Bring your focus to your breath and just let everything go. This is an excellent way to quickly reduce stress, and switch your body out of fight-or-flight mode so that you aren’t releasing any more cortisol. And, if you have the time, follow up your final resting pose with a quick guided meditation. This will also help you lower stress levels and stay nice and fit!

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