Katherine Roberts is founder and president of the FlexFit program that promotes flexibility, fitness, performance and life balance. For more than two decades, shes been teaching all levels of yoga around the world. Shes also a motivational speaker, author and producer of 9 DVDs.

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Yoga For Weight Loss

by Katherine Roberts, Yoga Expert

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The strength of the abdominal muscles is critical for many aspects of good health. Developing a strong core supports a straight spine, reduces the onset of back pain, and keeps the internal organs supported. Strong abdominals facilitate better posture.

The practice of yoga decreases the onset of postural changes associated with aging. How many hours are spent sitting at a computer creating the belly to protrude along with the hunched, rounded shoulders with the neck protruding forward? Good posture awareness begins with the abdominal muscles.

Notice your present posture as you are sitting at your computer reading this article? Try this. Sit on the edge of your chair, draw your navel towards your spine engaging the abdominal muscles, lift the ribs, bring the shoulders down and back, and align the neck with the spine.

It is hard to maintain correct posture without a strong core.

A great practice is to sit on a balance ball while at your computer or desk for long periods of time. A balance ball encourages engaging the abdominals to maintain steadiness on the ball and thus, creates better posture. The core conditioning presented below will get you started on increasing the strength in the abdominals.

You will need a yoga mat or soft surface, large towel or yoga block, and a small weighted ball. Perform the exercises slowly.

Core Stabilization Exercise with Block " Beginner Level

Preparation and attention to detail in this pose is critical for success. Lie supine on the mat with your knees bent with feet on the floor. You MUST maintain contact between your low back, rib cage, and the floor. To "feel" this action place one hand under your low back and press your navel towards your spine (pressing against your hand). You should be applying so much pressure against your hand it will be difficult to remove your hand from below your back. Once you make contact between your back and the floor, place your hands directly on your rib cage and "press" the rib cage towards the floor. Now you are ready to begin!

Place the yoga block between your hands, straighten the arms overhead at about a 45-degree angle, and press your shoulders down, away from your ears. Apply pressure to the block, (you will feel more resistance in your core) and slowly lift one leg off the floor. Hold for two breaths and slowly lower the leg. Switch sides and repeat 10 times.

Tip: Move the legs on the exhalation portion of your breathing.

Core Stabilization Exercise with Block " Intermediate and Advanced Level

Please read through the directions for the beginner level core stabilization exercise before trying this exercise. You MUST maintain contact between your low back, rib cage, and the floor. From the previous exercise, bring the left leg off the floor, knee to a 90-degree angle as you extend the right leg off the floor. Slowly, with focus, switch sides.

Abdominal and Oblique Strengthener

Place the weighted ball between the hands, extending the arms just below shoulder height. Inhale deeply as you slowly roll down until your bottom rib slightly touches the floor. Exhale and return to the starting position.

Tip: Keep the chin tucked into the chest and keep the back rounded, not straight! Repeat this action 10 times. Bring the torso to a position where you feel the most activation in your abdominals. FROM YOUR CORE, initiate the oblique twist as the eyes and head follow the hands. Repeat 10 times and take a rest. Pull you knees into you chest for five deep breaths.

Yogi Bicycles

Draw the navel into the spine. Inhale with one foot off the floor, the other leg extended upward, and the hands behind the head supporting the neck. Exhale lifting the right should to meet the left knee. Switch sides, repeating until the abdominals are fatigued.

Boat Pose with Towel, Knees Bent

Bend the knees and place a towel between the thighs. Place the hands under the thighs to support the back. Draw the navel into the spine, lift the chest, and focus the eyes over the knees. Engage the abdominal section, keeping the spine straight. Lower the shoulders and extend the arms shoulder height. Be aware that there should be no tension on the low back. Hold for five breaths.

Full Boat Pose with Towel with Legs Straight " Advanced Level

From the previous exercise, lift the legs off the floor, legs straight, toes spread wide apart. Engage the quadriceps and draw at the navel toward the spine. Arms should be lifted to shoulder height and chest lifted as the abdominals engage. Eyes should focus toward the toes. Squeeze the legs together in ...    Continue

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@ 11:14am ET on July 22, 2008
Thanks for the tips!!! These are the kinds of core exercises I have been looking for!!! Patty

@ 11:56am ET on July 22, 2008
HI Patty,
SO glad you like the exercises. Remember to press your entire ribcage into the floor during the exercises and breathe deeply!
Please stay in touch and let me know how you are progressing. I am here for you my friend!

@ 3:22am ET on July 24, 2008
These look fantastic, I have my block and don't use it much, so here is my excuse. Love yoga, about to start a power yoga course next week :)

@ 4:04pm ET on October 22, 2008
awesome! i need 2 know what r some good yoga moves, what i need to get started, and the average time needed. i want to start, but have no idea how.

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