4 Core Moves that Stretch and Strengthen

by Jessica Smith
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4 Core Moves that Stretch and Strengthen

Work your waistline from every angle with these yoga-centric moves to create strong, pulled-in abs that not only appear flatter, but also help support the spine. Try one, or all, of these moves up to four non-consecutive days per week.

For a full video workout with more moves like these, be sure to check out “Yoga Stretch for Beginners and Beyond,” which features two 30-minute morning and evening practices. It’s an energizing flow designed to build a foundation of strength and stamina — and to help deeply stretch and release tight and sore muscles.

BRIDGE POSE

Lie faceup with knees bent, feet flat on the floor hip-width distance apart and with arms extended by sides, palms facing up. Draw abdominals in towards spine and engage pelvic floor to lift hips off the floor slowly. Keep your glutes relaxed.

If you’re ready for more, lift onto your shoulder blades and draw your hands together, clasping palms and pressing arms down firmly against the floor. Keep your knees pointing forward in line with the toes.

Hold the pose for 30–60 seconds, breathing deeply and drawing your navel toward your spine during your exhale to further contract the abdominals.

MODIFIED SIDE-ARM PRESS

Lie on your left side with your elbow directly under your shoulder and your knees and hips stacked. Bend your left knee to rest on the floor, and place your right hand on your right hip. Work up to a full side arm press, or side plank position, by keeping both legs straight.

Draw your abdominals in toward the spine and press shoulders down toward hips as you lift your hips off the floor. Raise your right leg up in line with your hip and extend the right arm to the ceiling above your shoulder.

Hold the pose for 30–60 seconds, breathing deeply and focusing on drawing the navel in closer to the spine during each exhale to deeply contract the abdominals. Repeat on opposite side. For more of a challenge, keep both legs extended and extend the bottom arm.

OPPOSITE ARM AND LEG BALANCE

The abdominals and back work together to help stabilize the spine during this balance-challenging move.

Begin on your hands and knees with a neutral spine, abdominals engaged and hands directly under shoulders. Keep your knees under your hips.

Take a deep breath in and slowly extend your left leg out behind your hip and your right arm in front of your shoulder.

Keep your eyes focused on the floor to avoid neck strain and help with balance. As you exhale, return to the start, drawing abdominals in deeper towards the spine. Repeat on the opposite side, using your breath to guide the speed of the movement. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps total.

DOWNWARD DOG HOVER

Use the abdominals to control the movement of your lower body during this dynamic core stretch.

Begin on hands and knees, with a neutral spine, hands directly under shoulders and knees under hips. Press shoulders down and draw abdominals in toward the spine. Lift knees slightly off the floor (without raising hips in the air) to hover above the ground about an one or two inches.

Take a deep inhale and slowly extend into downward dog pose by straightening legs, lifting hips up and back and pressing the chest towards the thighs until the body resembles an upside down letter “V.” Press your heels as close to the floor as possible.

Modify by bending your knees or lifting heels. Exhale and return to a hover position, drawing abdominals in as tightly as possible. Repeat 10 times, using your breath to guide the speed of the movement.


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  • I’m looking for some core strengthening moves that can be done standing or sitting, no bending at the knee (like squats).