Chill out and tone your tummy with this stress-reducing yoga ab workout from celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor and trainer Kristin McGee. The moves in this 10-minute ab workout routine strengthen each and every muscle in your core while also stretching those muscles in your neck, shoulders and back that tend to get super-tight when life gets crazy. Plus, the deliberate movement within each pose requires you to focus, which is a great way to quiet a frazzled mind. Do the ab workout one time through three times a week or whenever you feel stressed out.
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Cat/Cow: Warms up your core while providing an ab workout for the deep abs, side abs, and back.
How-to: Begin on all fours with hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips; inhale. Exhale and round your back toward the ceiling, scooping your belly while feeling a lift from your ab muscles and tucking your head and tailbone as if trying to bring them together underneath you (A).Inhale, lifting your head and butt and allowing your belly to drop toward the floor as your back arches (let your lower back support you). Look up as you pull your shoulder blades together (B). That’s one rep; do 10 to 12 reps.
Knee to Nose: Tones lower abs, deep abs, back and hips.
How-to: Remain on all fours and arch your back. Inhale as you use your lower abs to pull your right knee toward your nose. Exhale, extending the leg straight back and lifting your head forward. Do 8 to 10 reps, then switch legs and repeat.
Bird Dog: Ab workout for all ab muscles, plus the waist, back and hips.
How-to: From all fours, reach your right arm forward at ear level and extend your left leg straight back at hip height. Imagine that you are balancing a cup of water on your lower back and another on your upper back between your shoulder blades. Brace your core and hold for 30-60 seconds (don’t forget to breathe). Without spilling your imaginary water, return your arm and leg to the floor, then repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep; do 3 to 5 reps.
Modified Boat: Tones deep abs, side abs, waist, inner thighs and pelvic floor.
How-to: Sit tall with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Without rounding your lower back, lean back slightly and lift your legs in the air, keeping your knees bent. Imagine that your shins are a tabletop set with fine china, so they must be kept parallel to the floor. Reach your arms forward, palms turned inward. Pull your belly button toward your spine and lift out of your lower back, pressing your shoulders down away from your ears as you hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Relax, then repeat for a total of 3 to 5 reps. (Too easy? Make it more challenging by straightening your legs—don’t worry about the china.)
Forearm Plank: Tones center, deep and side ab muscles, back, waist, hips, legs, butt, arms, shoulders.
How-to: Lie on your belly with legs straight, elbows under your shoulders and bent to 90 degrees, forearms on the floor. Tighten your abs, press your hands into the floor and tuck your toes; lift your hips so your body hovers 10 to 12 inches above the floor. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Tighten an imaginary seat belt around your waist as you continue to draw your low belly in; hold 45 to 60 seconds. Relax, lowering back down, then repeat for a total of 3 to 5 reps.