Your Yoga Flow For Amazing, Strong Abs

Everyone knows spending a little quality time on your yoga mat will help you calm your mind and maybe even find inner peace. But, can it sculpt a rock-solid core? You bet. Yoga isn’t all relaxation and chanting "om" — it’s a powerful, full-body strength routine that recruits the muscles of your core to help you stay balanced.
We tapped Tanya Boulton, a sought-after instructor at Pure Yoga, to develop a yoga practice that's geared specifically towards amping your abs. The routine is a mix of challenging mat exercises and a standing flow, to stretch and strengthen your midsection while elevating your heart rate. The practice will also help improve your posture, enhance your mind-body connection through breathwork, and leave you feeling energized — not exhausted. Boulton's clients (some of NYC's most stressed-out doctors, lawyers, and CEOs) come to her classes for this specific, efficient style of training that supports balance, both on and off the mat.
Advertisement
The moves may look simple — there are no intimidating contortions or inversions — but you’ll feel them in your core immediately. Boulton, who models the workout here, incorporates a yoga block into some of the postures. This helps keep the body in proper alignment and turns on your deep abdominal muscles.
To do the routine, all you need is a mat, a yoga block (a rolled-up towel or pillow will also do the trick), and maybe a few Arcade Fire tracks. Focus on your breath, keep your core engaged, and move through the flow slowly and with intention. Click through for the ultimate in abs-asana.
1 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Warm-Up

Focus on your breath. Lie face-up on your yoga mat with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width distance apart. Bring your knees to touch, lift your arms over your head, and rest them on the floor. Inhale for six seconds, exhale for six seconds, and continue this breathwork for two minutes.
2 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Mat Work

Now, grab your yoga block and place it between your inner thighs, close to your pelvic bone. Your feet should be close enough to your butt that your fingertips can graze your heels. Place your hands behind your head and push your lower back into the floor.
Advertisement
3 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Engaging the muscles of your core, lift your torso straight up until your shoulder blades are off the mat. Lower your torso back to the floor, and repeat this movement a total of 10 times.
4 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Keeping the block between your thighs, lift your legs straight into the air. Be sure that your lower back remains firmly pressed into the mat.
5 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
With the rest of your body remaining still, lift your torso off the floor, bringing your shoulder blades away from the mat. Slowly lower your torso back to the ground and repeat for a total of 10 lifts.
6 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Remove the block from between your thighs. Holding it between your hands, extend your arms overhead until your biceps are next to your ears and the block hovers just above the floor. Keep your abs tight, your legs extending straight into the air, and your lower back pressing into the mat.
7 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Keep your abs tight and slowly lower your right leg to the ground. Lower as far as you can without lifting your back from the mat. Then, slowly return your right leg up next to your other leg, engaging the muscles of your core.
Advertisement
8 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Now, switch sides, lowering the left leg slowly to the ground, keeping your lower back pressing into the mat and the yoga block extended overheard, hovering above the floor. Return your left leg to meet the right, and continue alternating sides for a total of 10 reps on each leg.
9 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Return your yoga block between your inner thighs, close to your pelvic bone, and place your feet flat on the mat with your knees bent. Your feet should be close enough to your butt that your fingertips can graze your heels. Place your hands behind your head and push your lower back into the floor.
10 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Engaging the muscles of your core, lift your torso up so that your shoulder blades are off the mat, and reach diagonally, bringing your right elbow towards your left knee. Lower your torso to the mat.
11 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Now, switch sides, lifting your torso up (so that your shoulder blades are off the mat) and reaching diagonally, bringing your left elbow towards your right knee. Lower your torso to the mat. Continue alternating for a total of 10 reps on each side.
12 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Slowly roll onto your stomach and lift into a forearm plank. Keep your spine long from head to heels, your elbows directly below your shoulders, and your core muscles engaged.
Advertisement
13 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Start to lower your left hip towards the yoga mat, as low as you can go without twisting your upper body. Return to your forearm plank and reverse the dip, lowering your right hip toward the mat. Continue alternating for a total of 10 reps on each side.
14 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Standing Core Work

Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, and your toes facing forward. Place the yoga block in a vertical position in the middle of your legs, one to two feet in front of your body. Hinge at the hips to lower your torso until it's nearly parallel to the floor, while bringing your left palm to the top of the block. Twist your torso to your right and lift your right arm overhead, creating one long line from your right hand to the yoga block. Gaze towards your right hand, or look straight ahead. Keep the weight in your heels and your spine straight. Hold this for five deep breaths and then repeat on the opposite side.
15 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart and your heels pressing firmly into the mat. Guide your hands to your torso, finding your lower ribs, and wrap your hands around your waist. Keeping your shoulders rolled down and back, gently try to lengthen your spine, reaching your head and torso towards the ceiling while rooting your feet firmly into the mat.
16 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Main Flow

For this sequence, continue with the slow, deep breathing — inhaling for six seconds, exhaling for six seconds.

Now, start by coming into downward-facing dog, pressing your palms into the mat and lifting your hips into the air. Straighten your legs and relax your heels down towards the mat. Hold for three inhales.
17 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Lift your left leg into the air directly behind the body, keeping your hips squared and palms pressing into the mat.
Advertisement
18 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Shift your weight forward so that your shoulders are directly above your wrists and bring your left knee under the center of your torso. Tuck your head, trying to touch your knee to your forehead.
19 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Pause briefly, then slowly kick your left leg back into the air and shift your body into downward facing dog.
20 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Now, shift your weight forward — so that your shoulders are directly above your wrists — while bringing your left knee under your torso, reaching for the opposite (right) elbow.
21 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Pause briefly, then slowly kick your left leg back into the air and shift your body into downward-facing dog.
22 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
This time, shift your weight forward — so that your shoulders are directly above your wrists — while bringing your left knee to the same (left) elbow. Keep your palms pressing into the mat, your core tight, and your spine long.
Advertisement
23 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Pause briefly, then slowly kick your left leg back into the air and shift your body into downward-facing dog.
24 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Move into high lunge by lowering your left leg and taking a big step with your left foot so that it's between your hands. Raise your torso and sweep your arms overhead towards the sky, coming into a lunge position with your left knee above your left heel. Your right leg is strong and stable, extended behind the body. Keep your toes and hips facing the front of your mat, your core engaged, and your ribs drawing towards your torso (do not pop your chest out). Pause and try to sink a little lower, until your left thigh is parallel to the mat.
25 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Take a nice side stretch by lowering your left hand next to your body, resting your left hand on your left thigh. With the right arm, lift up and over, feeling a stretch along the right side of your torso.
26 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Come into warrior II by rotating your back (right) foot so that your toes face the side of your mat. Windmill your right arm behind the body so that each arm is extended out from your torso at shoulder height with palms facing down. Engage your core and keep your arms active by pulling them away from your center. Bend your left knee so that your shin is perpendicular to the mat and sink as low as you can, keeping your left heel pressing firmly into the mat.
27 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Bring your right hand down along the back of your right leg and bring your left arm up next to your left ear. Keeping your left knee bent and feet planted firmly on the mat, reach your right hand lower down the right leg, bending back slightly. Gaze up towards the left hand — or towards the front if that's uncomfortable.
Advertisement
28 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Now, windmill the body in the opposite direction by straightening your left leg and bringing your left arm towards your left ankle. Raise your right arm overhead and shift your hips towards the back of your yoga mat. Keep your chest upright and your core tight, and lower the left side of your left thigh. Gaze toward your right hand.
29 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Use your core strength to lift the torso up, bringing your left arm parallel to the mat, with your palm facing up. Keep your leg straight, feet firmly planted on the mat, and spine long.
30 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Turn your torso so that it faces your mat and lower your hands on both sides of your left foot. Twist on the ball of your right foot so that your toes face forward.
31 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Step your left foot back next to your right, so that you're in the top of a push-up position with your shoulders directly above your wrists and your spine long.
32 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Press your palms into the mat and lift your hips into the air, coming back into downward-facing dog. Repeat the sequence on the opposite side, and move through the flow 5-10 times on both legs.
33 of 34
Photographed by Ben Ritter.
Final Stretch

After finishing your main flow, reward your abs with a gentle, seated twist. Come to your mat and cross your right leg over your left — so that your right foot is on the mat near your left knee. Place your right hand a few inches behind your body and wrap your left arm around your right knee. Slowly, start to twist your torso towards the right, and bring your gaze over your right shoulder, or straight ahead. Take a few deep breaths, unwind, and repeat on the opposite side.
34 of 34
Advertisement