Yoga can help your body become stronger, more flexible and better balanced. Through poses known as asanas, yoga often strengthens and tones muscles in the arms, legs, core and back. There’s no magic formula for losing belly fat, but yoga along with a calorie-restricted diet can help you burn the additional calories needed to shed excess weight and highlight toned muscles created through strength-building poses. Additionally, yoga’s basic message of mindfulness and calm might help reduce stress, making you more aware of your moods and less likely to indulge in binge eating.
Poses for Stronger Abs
To achieve a flatter belly, focus on core postures in your yoga practice. In Boat pose, you sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet pressing into the mat. Sit up straight, engage your core and then gently lift your feet from the ground to work on abdominal strength. If you’re able, extend your legs to 45 degrees while maintaining a straight spine for a more challenging pose.
In Bridge pose, lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet pressing into the ground. Keep your arms alongside your body with your palms pressing into the floor. On an inhale, lift your hips high while keeping your knees bent.
Burning Calories for Fat Loss
Yoga poses help with strength building, which improves your body’s ability to burn calories more effectively during resting states. But connecting transitions between poses can also burn calories, contributing to lower fat reserves. In between poses, complete a vinyasa by assuming pushup or plank position, slowly lowering your body to within several inches from the floor. On an inhale, straighten your elbows and lift your torso, keeping your shoulders relaxed. Exhale, and then press back into Downward-Facing Dog with your tailbone stretched toward the ceiling and your feet and hands pressing into the mat. Completing vinyasas in between poses will increase the cardiovascular benefits of your workout.
Fire Up Your Breath
Yoga teaches that breath work can contribute to overall physical and emotional health. In deep belly breathing, sit cross-legged with one hand on your heart and the other resting on your belly. Breathe in for five counts, allowing air to fill your belly. Exhale slowly, allowing the breath to slowly leave your core. In Breath of Fire, rapidly breathe in and out through the nostrils, keeping your core muscles engaged so that the abdomen pumps in and out quickly with your breath. Although there’s no scientific proof that yogic breathing will flatten your belly, you might notice improved mindfulness and decreased stress that will prevent you from overeating.
Yoga’s Perspective on Fat
Yogic philosophy teaches a healthy lifestyle that embraces physical activity and mindful eating, but self-acceptance is a key component of this outlook, according to the "Yoga Journal." Having a rock-hard six-pack might be unrealistic or unhealthy for your body; in addition, overly tight abdominals can create back problems because a too-taut belly creates strain on the lumbar spine. Although it’s fine to work toward your goal of a flatter belly, practice compassion by accepting your body and resisting the urge to meet impossible standards set forth in advertising campaigns.
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