If you’re ready to trade in mundane sets of crunches for an ab workout that keeps things challenging yet interesting, listen up. When it comes to training your abs, yoga can be an incredibly beneficial form of exercise. That’s why we consulted with a 63-year-old yoga instructor who breaks down her top seven yoga exercises for stronger abs. These moves are ideal for individuals of all ages, especially those who are looking to develop core strength.

“Many yoga students—especially those over 60—come to their mats with pain from arthritis, previous injuries, and surgical procedures. Yoga can help alleviate discomfort and prevent further injury by improving strength, mobility, and ease of movement,” explains Judy Schnoebelen, instructor for YogaSix. “The development of core strength is key. At Yoga Six, we encourage all students, no matter how old, to invite inquiry into their practice through a deeper connection to sensations in their [bodies]. The core is no exception.”

Engaging in a yoga practice activates the core through movement, breathwork, and stillness. “I often cue my students to ‘energize on the exhale’ and activate their core muscles as they move within and between poses,” Schnoebelen adds.

Now, let’s dive into the best yoga exercises for stronger abs, according to Schnoebelen.

Plank Pose

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The classic plank pose is one of the best yoga exercises you can do for total core engagement.

Begin in a tabletop position and kick both feet back. Make sure your shoulders are over your wrists and your body is in a straight line from your head to your feet. Elongate your spine by reaching forward with the crown of your head and back through both heels.

“Lift your pubic bone toward your belly button for a neutral pelvis and hug into your belly and ribs to activate the front container of the core,” instructs Schnoebelen. “Energetically pull your palms toward your toes to increase core sensation.”

Side Plank

side planks
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The side plank is a stellar exercise for boosting your side core strength.

Assume a forearm plank and rotate your body to one side. Ensure your shoulders are over your elbows. “Pull your pubic bone toward your belly button for a neutral pelvis. Hug your glutes into your sitting bones to activate the back of your core,” says Schnoebelen. “Flex your toes toward your nose and pull your belly and ribs in to activate the front and side of your core.”

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Boat Pose

boat pose
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The boat pose is a fun challenge.

Start in a seated position. Bend both knees and lift your feet off the floor. Extend your arms ahead of you or bring them to your heart’s center. Press your sit bones into the floor and elongate your spine. Engage your abs as you strengthen your legs.

Dolphin Pose

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If you have vertigo, Schnoebelen stresses to be cautious of dolphin pose, as it’s an inversion.

Begin in a forearm tabletop position. Position your elbows under your shoulders. Press your palms into the floor or clasp them together. Lift your knees off the ground and engage your core. Shift forward and back to activate your shoulders, or bring your toes closer to your elbows and raise your hips toward the ceiling.

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Chair Pose

chair pose
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There are plenty of chair pose variations to have fun with, including pulses, twists, and “chairplanes.”

Begin classic chair pose by assuming mountain pose. “Sit your hips down and back, and reach your arms forward or bring them to prayer at [your heart’s] center,” instructs Schnoebelen. “Pull your pubic bone up and your tailbone down and find a neutral pelvis. Pull your belly in and up and squeeze the spaces between your ribs.”

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Knee-to-Nose

knee to nose pose
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The knee-to-nose pose fires up the core as you transition from one move to another. It’s usually performed from three-legged dog to low lunge.

When starting from three-legged dog, breathe in and reach back through the heel. “Bend your knee and pull it toward your nose,” Schnoebelen explains. “Energize as you exhale and tighten your belly and ribs. Use your core strength to shift forward until your shoulders are over your wrists. Press the earth away with your palms and energize your upper back.”

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Locust Pose

locust pose
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Locust pose is an excellent yoga move to engage your back core.

Begin on your stomach and place your arms by your sides. “Roll your shoulders up and back, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and lift your chest off your mat,” instructs Schnoebelen. “Activate your glutes and lift your thighs off the mat any amount.”

Alexa Mellardo

Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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