Advanced Yoga Moves That Will Strengthen and Tone Your Abs

It can be tough to find a workout that effectively strengthens muscles while not harming your flexibility, but yoga manages to do just that. Through the practice of yoga, not only are participants taught mindfulness and how better to connect their breathing with their bodily movements, but they can also be challenged through some seriously difficult poses. Yoga might not seem that physically tough at first, but once you start getting into the more advanced moves, you can expect to feel your muscles working hard through each pose.

When it comes to your core, certain yoga moves are particularly useful in strengthening your midsection. Try these advanced moves for serious strength gains.

Revolved chair pose

This pose from Yoga Journal seems like it isn’t be too hard, but when done right, you’ll feel it through your middle back, lower back, center core, obliques, and glutes. The secret to making this one count is to hold the position strong with little movement for at least 10 breaths before switching sides.

How to: 

Stand in the center of your mat with feet together. Then, bend your knees and squat into an imaginary chair (enter chair pose if you’re familiar). You’ll want to make sure you’re pushing through your heels and sinking deep into your glutes rather than your quads for maximum benefit. Keep your back flat with chest up, too.

Once you’re here, bring your palms together at heart level. Twist to the left on your exhale, keeping your right elbow and tricep hooked on to your left thigh. With each inhale and exhale twist deeper into the move so you feel it through your back and obliques. After 10 breaths, switch and twist to the other side (and see if you can hold that chair pose).

Boat pose

Woman doing abdominal exercise

Woman doing abdominal exercise | iStock.com

This posture itself isn’t particularly advanced — but when you hold it for 30 to 60 seconds, even those with the strongest abs will feel the burn. Make sure you’re breathing through this exercise as you hold it steady, too. You’ll be working your upper abs, lower abs, back muscles, and legs with this one.

How to:

Sit on your mat with legs outstretched in front of you. Lean back slightly with a flat back to balance on your behind. Then, bring your knees to your chest. When you’re ready, push your legs all the way straight by activating the quads. Make sure to keep your legs off the ground completely — and the higher you push them to the ceiling, the easier on your abs this move will be. To make this more challenging, hover your legs just above the ground.

As for your upper body, make sure to keep your back flat and chest lifted. You can keep your arms outstretched by your legs or above your head for an added challenge. Hold the pose for 60 seconds.

Fish pose

fish pose

Woman doing fish pose during yoga | YOGABODY via YouTube

This yoga posture outlined by Fitness is similar to boat pose, but it provides even more of a stretch (and a challenge) for the upper abs. With this one, you’ll be working through your legs, lower abs, upper abs, and upper back. Try to hold this one for 30 to 60 seconds — and as always, don’t forget to breathe!

How to:

Lie face-up on your mat with longs long and arms long by your side. Then, lift your heart up to the ceiling and look behind you as if you’re going into a mini backbend. It also helps to focus on keeping your head touching the floor at all times. Once you’re here, lift your legs off the floor just a few inches, squeezing through your quads to make sure they’re perfectly straight as you lift. Keep your abdominals contracted through the move by pulling in your belly button, too. Hold for 30 seconds or 10 long breaths.

L-pose handstand

If you can do a full handstand, then you know how great they are for your entire core. If you can’t successfully kick up to a full handstand, no worries — you can still try this L-pose handstand by using a wall, says DoYouYoga. Not only will you feel this through your entire core and back, but your shoulders will also feel a great opening stretch here.

How to:

Place your mat near a wall. Come onto all fours on your mat facing away from the wall so your heels are against the wall while your toes remain on the ground. Spread your fingers and press down through your palms as you straighten your arms and legs and come up into a shortened version of downward-facing dog. You’re probably going to feel like you’re way too close to the wall here, and that’s OK — you’re in the right place!

Next, continue to press through your palms as you lift one foot to the wall. Start to straighten the raised leg, pushing your hips over your shoulders as you raise the other leg next to it on the wall. You may feel as if you’re going to tip over when you stack your hips over your shoulders, but if you push through your palms to stabilize your upper body and remain strong through the core and legs, you won’t be going anywhere. When you’re in the correct posture, your body will make a perfect L shape.

Bow pose

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle in a yoga pose | Silentyogacz via Instagram

StyleCraze suggests this exercise that’s not only great for strengthening your back, shoulders, chest, and abs, but it also can greatly benefit your flexibility. Once you’re in it, rock forward and back on your abs for at least 10 breaths.

How to: 

Lie on your belly on your mat and squeeze your shoulder blades together so your chest is lifted off of the mat. At the same time, squeeze your glutes and quads to hover the legs off the mat, too. Bend your knees and bring your heels back toward your glutes while your chest, head, and neck are all lifted. Your toes should be vertical above your ankles.

Then, reach behind you to grab your ankles with palms facing in. As you breathe through the move, lift your legs even higher to get a deeper stretch through the back and abs. Stay here for 10 breaths or 30 seconds.

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