There are many reasons you may be drawn to begin a yoga practice. While it is a popular form of physical exercise, yoga offers the added benefits of calming the mind and inspiring healthy habits in other areas of life.
The physical benefits of doing yoga are numerous. When practiced regularly, yoga will help you build muscle tone, increase your flexibility, and improve overall mobility. Even more, it helps all systems of the bodywork more efficiently, contributing to better metabolism and reduced stress.
Whether you come to your mat hoping to improve your physical, mental, or emotional health, you will find that yoga is a great tool for getting in shape.
Having a trim midsection is a common fitness goal for many people. If you’ve ever wondered whether yoga can help you get rid of lingering belly fat, you’re in luck! There are many yoga poses that can specifically target this area of the body.
Keep reading to explore the ways yoga can help you tone your tummy and reduce belly fat. Then, follow us through our guide to learn about some specific yoga asanas (poses) you can try at home, and experience the results for yourself!
Is yoga good for losing belly fat?
To fully answer this question, it is important to consider all the factors that lead to extra fat around the midsection. Levels of physical activity, stress, quality of sleep, and eating habits can all play a role in hanging on to extra belly fat (1).
Yoga Keeps You Active
In today’s world, it is all too easy to settle into a sedentary lifestyle. Not having enough physical activity in your day can easily lead to excess belly fat in no time at all.
Many people who begin a yoga practice find themselves inspired to build it into a routine. Keeping yourself active is one of the most important factors in losing weight, especially when it comes to the tummy area. There are no shortcuts to losing inches off of your midsection, so choosing a fitness routine you can stick to will help keep you consistent in your exercise.
Even if you have limited mobility, or are a bit intimidated by some of the more intense gym workout programs, yoga is a wonderful way to simply get your body moving. It is low-impact and completely adaptable to your own level, even beginners. Even better, you can practice in the comfort of your own home so you have no excuses to skip out on fitness! (2)
Yoga and Healthy Eating
Dietary choices are also a huge factor in maintaining a flat stomach. Experts agree that eating too many sugary and fatty foods, as well as impulsive eating all, contribute to putting on extra weight.
Furthermore, high levels of stress and anxiety often lead to distracted snacking. Before we know it, our jeans might be a little bit harder to button!
People who keep a regular yoga practice often find themselves making better choices when it comes to their diet and eating habits. This includes not only in the actual foods they eat but also eating in a mindful way. Yoga helps increase presence of mind and body awareness. This means you will be more likely to eat only when you’re actually hungry, and to stop eating when you feel full.
Mindful eating is one of the most effective ways to avoid putting on extra weight or to lose any lingering fat. Yoga is one of the best tools for developing a healthier relationship to food (3, 4).
Improves Sleep and Reduces Stress
Yet another reason many of us end up adding extra padding to our tummy area is poor sleep and high stress.
Yoga can help significantly with both of these issues. Practicing yoga a few times a week will surely leave you feeling more physically relaxed, to help you achieve more restful sleep. You may also experience more peace of mind, that you are able to quiet your thoughts in order to fall asleep faster and stay sleeping longer (5).
How Yoga Affects the Belly
As for its effects on the body, yoga helps to reduce belly fat in a few different ways.
When practiced with proper form, the majority of yoga asanas require core integration. This means keeping the abdominal muscles active to support the torso. The principle is applied to many different categories of yoga asana, whether standing, balancing, sitting, twisting, as well as backbends and inversions.
With yoga, you will how to use your core properly in all types of movement, leading to a flatter tummy over time (6).
Even the gentler forms of yoga can significantly help with weight loss and reducing belly fat. There are many different types of poses that benefit each system of the body. For example, twisting postures aid in digestion, while inversions help stimulate and drain the lymphatic system.
These both work to maintain an efficient metabolism. Restorative and resting postures aim to calm the parasympathetic nervous system, leading to lower stress levels (7).
Below we will dive into some of the specific yoga asanas to help reduce belly fat. Give them a try and you will be on your way to a flat belly in no time!
15 Best Yoga Poses to Reduce Belly Fat
1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Mountain pose is a very basic posture that will help you connect with your core, improve blood circulation, and help you feel grounded and focused. This is a foundational asana for many sequences such as Sun Salutations.
How to do it:
Stand with your feet at a hip-width distance apart. Feel the four corners of your feet connected with the ground beneath you as you grown tall through the crown of your head.
With your arms at your sides, turn your palms to face forward and spread your fingers wide. Draw your shoulders down and away from your ears.
Draw your belly button in and up, and draw the front of your rib cage in and back slightly to activate the deepest part of your core.
2. Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
This pose benefits digestion and circulation while reducing stress. It helps warm up and stretch the body in preparation for a yoga practice and is included in many yoga sequences.
How to do it:
Stand with your feet at a hip-width distance apart, as in Mountain pose.
Inhale and reach your arms overhead. Bow forward as you exhale, placing your hands on the floor or on yoga blocks.
Release any tension from the back of your neck. Come out of the posture by slowly rising back up to stand.
3. Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
Plank is another foundational pose that works the entire body by engaging the arms, legs, back, and core muscles. This pose helps improve posture and builds strength, focus, and discipline.
How to do it:
Come into a push-up position. If you experience discomfort in your wrists, move them forward slightly (a couple inches) so they are not directly stacked underneath your shoulders.
Spread your fingers and grip your mat. Reach the crown of your head forward and keep the back of the neck long. Pull the belly button in and up, and aim to maintain the natural curves of the spine.
Keep your legs active by lifting your kneecaps and feel as though your heels are pushing back into an imaginary wall behind you.
Hold your plank for as long as you can, keeping your breath steady. Release with an exhale, lowering all the down to your mat.
Beginner’s tip: practice plank on your knees, keeping the same alignment of the spine and core activation.
4. Side Plank Pose (Vasisthasana)
This variation of plank tones the core, especially the abdominal obliques. You’ll also strengthen your arms, legs, back, and side body, while the chest and shoulders open.
How to do it:
Begin in plank pose. Ground down into your right hand and start to open your body to the left, rolling both heels to the right. Stack your left foot on top of your right.
Extend your left hand to the sky while pressing down into your right hand. Keep the legs active by squeezing them together.
Activate your entire core to stabilize your torso, especially lifting from your right obliques to keep your hips lifted.
Stay for at least five breaths before coming back to plank and releasing. Repeat posture on the left side.
Beginner’s tip: try a modified Side Plank by bending your bottom leg so that your shin is parallel with the long side of your mat. This will give you extra balance and support while your core and obliques work to keep your torso lifted.
5. Extended Cat Pose (Utthita Marjaryasana)
Sometimes also called Bird Dog, this core-focused pose will help reduce belly fat. You’ll feel your abs working, as well as your arms, quads, hamstrings, glutes, and back.
How to do it:
Begin on your hands and knees in a table top position.
Draw your navel in and up to turn on your core. Ground down into your right hand and left shin. With an inhale, extend your left arm forward and right leg back.
Flex your right foot with your toes pointed towards the floor and pull up on your kneecap to fire up your quads. Reach the crown of your head forward to create length in the back. Keep both hips level and maintain the natural curves of the spine, with no arch in the lower back.
Hold your arm and leg extended for a few breaths and release the pose with an exhale, coming back to your table top position. Repeat the posture with the opposite arm and leg extended.
6. Revolved Chair Pose (Parivrtta Utkatasana)
Chair pose strengthens the lower half of your body and builds up stamina and concentration. This twisted variation aids weight loss by using the abdominal obliques and also stimulates the internal organs to improve digestion.
How to do it:
Begin by standing with your feet together with your hands in a prayer position in front of your chest.
With an exhale, bend your knees and sink your hips back as if sitting into a chair behind you. Reach the crown of your head up and forwards, lengthening the spine. Your sitting bones should be pointing towards the floor, with no arch in the lower back.
On your next exhale, engage your abs and twist your torso, bringing one elbow to hover over the opposite thigh. The elbow can lightly rest on the upper leg, but avoid using torque to complete the twist.
Keep both knees in line with one another.
Hold your twist for a few breaths. Return to center on an inhale, and release to a forward bend with an exhale. Return to standing and repeat the chair twist on the second side.
7. Revolved Crescent Pose (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana)
This pose is a full-body workout! It strengthens the quads, glutes, back, and ankles lengthens the hip flexor, and works the core. Adding a twist to your Crescent lunge improves spinal mobility, balance, and stimulates the organs of the abdomen to aid digestion.
How to do it:
Begin in a high lunge position. Bend into your front leg, keeping your knees pointing in the same direction as your toes (straight forward). Move your front foot forward enough so your knee does not bend past your ankle.
Bring your hands to a prayer position in front of your chest and reach the crown of your head towards the sky to lengthen your spine. Square off your hips.
On an exhale, engage your abs and twist your torso, bringing one elbow to hover over the opposite thigh. The elbow can lightly rest on the upper leg, but avoid using torque to complete the twist.
Hold your twist for a few breaths. Return to center on an inhale, then release your hands to the mat and step back to Downward Facing Dog as you exhale. Step your other foot through your hands and repeat Revolved Crescent on your second side.
8. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
Triangle is another full-body yoga posture. It opens your chest and shoulders, stretches your hamstrings and groin, and works your core. This posture also helps relieve lower back pain, and wakes up your digestive tract.
How to do it:
Begin in a high lunge position with the right leg forward. Spin the back left heel down so that your toes are at a 45-degree angle to the short edge of your yoga mat.
Place your right hand on the inside of your right foot, or on the right shin. Begin to straighten your right leg and open your left arm to the sky.
Use your abdominal obliques to keep your torso lifted, rather than dumping your weight forward into your right arm. Turn your left temple to the sky to keep your head in line with the spine.
Stay in the pose for a few breaths. To exit Triangle, bring your left hand back down to your mat and step your right foot back into Downward Facing Dog. Step your other foot through your hands and repeat Triangle Pose on your second side.
9. Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana)
This asana strengthens the back and shoulders while offering a wonderful stretch in the hamstrings, calves and shoulders. Dolphin pose also calms the mind, relieves stress, and can help lower blood pressure.
How to do it:
Begin on your hands and knees in a table top position. Walk your hands about 6 inches forward and lower down onto your forearms. Press your hands and forearms firmly into your mat.
Tuck your toes and straighten your legs with an exhale. Press your chest back towards your thighs and widen your shoulder blades.
Draw your navel in and up, imagining you have a corset around your torso. Keep your ears in between your biceps so the head stays aligned with the spine.
Hold the posture for several steady breaths. To exit Dolphin pose, gently place your knees on your mat with an exhale.
Beginner’s tip: keep a slight bend in your knees to be sure your spine stays straight and long.
10. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
In Cobra pose, you will strengthen your back, arms, and glutes, while feeling a stretch your chest, shoulders, and the front of your torso. This posture opens up the lungs to help you breathe easier to reduce stress. It also stimulates the abdominal organs, making this a great posture to help reduce belly fat.
How to do it:
Begin by lying face down on your yoga mat. Bring your hands directly underneath your shoulders.
Use the muscles of your upper back to lift your upper torso, drawing your sternum forward through your hands. Press into your hands, keeping your elbows close to your sides, and draw your shoulder blades together.
Press the tops of your feet into your yoga mat. Engage your glutes and lift your kneecaps to activate your quads. Reach the crown of your head up and forwards to continue lengthening the spine.
Stay in the posture for a few breaths and release yourself gently back to your mat with an exhale.
11. Boat Pose (Navasana)
Boat pose is one of the most effective yoga asanas for increasing core strength, while also strengthening the spine and hip flexors. This pose also benefits digestion by stimulating the intestines and is great for building focus, stamina, and discipline.
How to do it:
Begin in a seated position with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the mat. Bring your hands to the backs of your thighs and sit tall to lengthen your spine.
Draw your belly button in and up to activate your core. Exhale and lift one foot to make a 90-degree angle with your legs. When you feel stable, lift your second foot and squeeze your legs together.
Reach your arms forward, keeping space between your collarbones. Aim to maintain the natural curves of your spine.
For a challenge, try straightening your legs completely. If you feel your lower back start to round, however, keep your legs bent to maintain proper alignment of the spine.
12. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Camel pose stretches the entire front of the body, opens the chest and shoulders, improves flexibility of the spine. This posture also increases blood circulation, especially to the digestive tract.
How to do it:
Come to a kneeling position with your knees at a hip-width distance apart. Align your hips directly over your knees.
Bring your hands to your low back, with your fingers point down towards your buttocks. Draw your navel in and up to engage your core.
As you inhale, start to lift your chest to the sky and draw your elbows together behind you.
Keep your sternum lifted and drop your hands one at a time, placing them on your heels. Press your hips and thighs forward. Keep an equal curve throughout your entire spine, and avoid crunching your lower back.
To exit this pose, return your hands to your lower back, tuck your chin to your chest, and use your abs to lift yourself back up to a kneeling position.
13. Wind Relieving Pose (Ardha Pavanamuktasana)
This is a soothing posture that releases tension in the hips and lower back, reducing stiffness. You may feel some gases released in your digestive tract, relieving constipation and indigestion. This pose also helps calm the mind and reduces anxiety.
How to do it:
Begin by lying on your back. With an inhale, draw your right knee in.
Take ahold of the front of your shin and with an exhale, squeeze your right knee toward your right shoulder.
Stay in the posture for several breaths, attempting to soften in your hip joint with each inhale. Exit the posture by slowly release your leg to your mat with an exhale.
Always begin this posture on the right side to stimulate the ascending colon, followed by the descending colon on the left side.
14. Supine Spinal Twist Pose (Supta Matsyendrasana)
This reclining twist stretches the back, shoulders, and glutes, and improves spinal mobility. Although a gentle asana, it will help you get rid of excess belly fat by massaging your abdominal organs, increasing blood flow, and improving digestion.
How to do it:
Begin by lying on your back. Bend your right knee, bringing it in towards your chest.
As you exhale, draw your knee across your body. Extend your right arm out to the side.
Stay in the posture for several breaths, softening with each inhale. When you’re ready to come out of the posture, bring your knee slowly back to center before releasing your leg back down to your mat. Repeat this pose on your second side.
15. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Savasana is one of the most important yoga asanas as it offers many important benefits. It reduces fatigue, stress, lowers blood pressure, and calms the mind.
How to do it:
Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and palms facing up. Connect with the parts of your body that are touching your mat to feel grounded.
Relax your face, jaw, and throat. Allow your breath to flow naturally. Spend several minutes here, quietly observing your thoughts without any judgment.
To bring yourself out of savasana, gently wiggle your fingers and toes to reconnect with your body. Roll to one side and push yourself up to a seated position.
The Final Word
Yoga is recognized for many health benefits, which can all play a part in reaching your fitness goals. Especially if you are looking to trim your waistline and tone your midsection, yoga can be a great addition to your workouts.
Losing weight and keeping it off can be a complicated process because many factors affect our physical health. The wonderful thing about yoga is that it is a diverse and holistic practice benefitting your body, mind, and spirit.
Although there is no quick fix for getting rid of excess belly fat, practicing yoga will help you build lasting routines that will support you in reaching your optimum health and achieving your fitness goals.
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- IDEA Authors, Staff. “Regular Yoga Practice Is Associated with Mindful Eating.” IDEA Health & Fitness Association, 4 Aug. 2009, www.ideafit.com/personal-training/regular-yoga-practice-is-associated-with-mindful-eating-0/.
- Watts, Allison W, et al. “Yoga’s Potential for Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Behaviors among Young Adults: a Mixed-Methods Study.” BioMedical Central, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2 May 2018, ijbnpa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12966-018-0674-4.
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- Watson, Stephanie. “Yoga: Benefits, Intensity Level, and More.” WebMD, WebMD, 8 Dec. 2019, www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/yoga-workouts.