Natasha writes for the Focus Magazine. This article featured in 2009.
“If you’ve always dreamed of a taut tummy but have come to the conclusion it’s unobtainable then think again. The abdomen is actually incredibly receptive to exercise and is just one of the areas that benefits from regular yoga practice.
The abdomen is often cited as women’s most hated body parts and let’s face it a muffin top is not attractive. Men also tend to store their fat around their middle creating a ‘beer belly’ which isn’t a good look. To improve this just need to make sure that you’re following the postures correctly. When you first practice little and often is the best and safest option.
Many exercises don’t really hit the spot when it comes to toned abdominals and that’s because they tend to just deal with the ‘surfers abs’ – or the top part of the torso. Many people complain that years of crunches has left them with a sleek top part of their tummy but the bottom area is still flabby.
The great thing with yoga is the toning begins with the deep core muscles and the kegal (pelvic floor) area so true strength is gained internally as well as giving you a washboard stomach. The core muscles include the transverse abdominals which are the deepest of the stomach muscles and are considered as the most important for a strong core. The obliques are positioned slightly to the side of the waist and the rectus abdominals or the ‘6 pack’ sits on top of the other stomach muscles and down the centre from the rib cage to the pubis bone.
A lot of yoga teachers will talk about something called ‘Bandhas’ they can be categorised as internal locks or valves and will be the focus for many postures during a class. If you find your teacher starts talking about the pelvic floor they may be trying to explain the bandhas to you so if you can see past the embarrassment you’ll realise that by
tightening from the pelvic floor and up, you’re giving the abdomen the work out of it’s life.
Your abs will get a work-out during the whole class but particular asana’s that help are, plank position, triangle, warrior, bridge and dolphin. Plank is probably one of the best postures to practice and this will in time strengthen your back too. While you’re holding the pose concentrate on pulling the naval to the spine which really works
those deep muscles. An analogy I particularly like is to imagine the sensation of pulling a belt too tight – that is the feeling you want to replicate when toning the abs and this can be practiced at any time.
You should find that your middle area will benefit from regular yoga sessions and that if your back is an issue it should get stronger too. Just make sure that you listen to your body and take it slowly at first.”