Sculpt your side abs with these 4 yoga postures, you don’t need abs

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If you want to sculpt killer crunches and increase your core strength, you can use crunches first. Hey, it’s a habit. Instead, unfold your yoga mat and try these standing yoga postures to sculpt, tone, and strengthen your side abs, and improve your overall yoga practice. Not only will you see a difference in your body, but more importantly, building these obliques will make you feel stronger, more balanced, and have better mobility.

How yoga works the obliques and lateral abs

If you are thinking that the position of the side board is not more way to work the side abs, think again. As much as I love this posture (and I consider it one of the favorites for all-time oblique strengthening), there are many other postures that work the side abs effectively.

Tiffany Cruikshank, the founder of Yoga Medicine, says that postures that attach to your rib cage are beneficial for your obliques and lateral abs. This means that many yoga postures, including some standing torsion postures, can be great options for working the obliques. “This floating action and rotational movement of the ribs is what helps orient the obliques,” he says. And these little movements and rotations? They can cause major changes in the strength of the abs and lateral obliques.

We asked Cruikshank for some of his favorite postures for working these obliques. Keep reading to find out your favorites (and some may even surprise you).

See also: 10 postures to increase strength and stability in your core

4 yoga postures to strengthen the side abs

The woman practices the crescent position
(Photo: Christopher Dougherty)

Ardha Chandrasana (Crescent Position)

Requiring balance, strength and focus, this posture will tone your side abs while improving your stability. If you find it difficult to complete this posture, you can choose to modify it by placing a block under your grounded hand. Cruikshank says this stance doesn’t necessarily seem like a basic job, though it is. “The key to [this pose] is to focus on moving the skin of the upper ribs back to rotate the rib cage toward the long edge of the carpet, “he says. This rotation of the ribs is what strengthens the abdominals and lateral obliques.

One person demonstrates the position of extended lateral angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana) in yoga
(Photo: Christopher Dougherty)

Utthita Parsvakonasana (extended lateral angle)

Like the position of the crescent, the extended side angle allows you to attach your rib cage in a way that is oriented towards the abdominals and lateral obliques. If you find basic work a bit boring, Cruikshank says this is the posture to take. When you open your chest up, attach your lower body, and extend your upper arm, you will feel every inch of your physical body activated, including the obliques. To make this posture more difficult, you can also choose to do a half or full tie with your upper arm.

The woman demonstrates the position of the side plate
(Photo: Christopher Dougherty)

Vasisthasana (side plate posture)

Side Plank Pose, proven and true for oblique work, is a great choice for strengthening the side abs, without the need for oblique abs. If balancing on the side panel position is a challenge for you, choose to lower your upper foot as a “toe” on your lower leg. Want to orient your side abs even more? Lower the support arm to the forearm, instead of lifting it by the fully extended arm. Your obliques will light up in no time.

One person demonstrates the position of extended lateral angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana) in yoga
(Photo: Christopher Dougherty)

Utthita Trikonasana (Position of the elongated triangle)

This posture engages the ribs in a manner similar to the position of the extended lateral angle and the position of the crescent, says Cruikshank. While in this position, try to make the same adjustments that Cruikshank recommends for the crescent position: move the skin of the upper ribs back, in order to create space and rotation throughout the rib cage. This move will allow you to fully attach your obliques. “To increase this [pose] just stand up lighter and lighter on the lower support arm or you can even grab your arms above for an extra challenge, ”says Cruikshank.

See also: 5 postures to strengthen the lower back and core, all without getting up

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