Belly fat is even more dangerous than it seems as it actually about having an extra fat layer on the abdominal organs, known as visceral fat. This could pose serious health hazards affecting the kidneys, liver, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and even death in severe cases. Yoga for belly fat is significantly effective for achieving overall fitness beginning from toning the stomach.
The practice of yoga asanas involves stretching, bending, twisting, and squeezing the fat accumulated regions of the body in a subtle and gentle way.
Some yoga asanas, when incorporated with pranayama breathing, focus on reducing belly fat by actively involving the core muscles while drawing the belly to the spine. For example, in Kapalbhati pranayama for weight loss, continuous jerk of the abdominal wall inwards with exhalation burn that extra layer of fat from your belly. It focuses on the abdominals and associated muscles letting the practitioner gain the perfectly trimmed waistline.
Moreover, overall yoga practice improves every aspect of your lifestyle that could be responsible for your flabby tummy. These include eating habits, sleeping patterns, and stress-inducing factors, etc.
What Yoga Does to Your Belly Fat?
For shedding fat from your body, burning calories through any physical activity is the most important factor. Though yoga is not that strenuous activity but research 1 of Harvard Health Publishing states that hatha yoga burns 240 to 356 calories per hour as per the practitioner’s weight.
In the case of many people today, the reason for belly fat gain has observed unhealthy food habits which include high sugar intake. Yoga majorly helps by bringing mindfulness 2 that helps in getting control over unhealthy eating habits or impulsive binge eating.
Experts also suggest restorative yoga for belly fat as an effective practice because it reduces the level of cortisol hormone 3. Cortisol levels generally rise when you feel stressed and accumulate fat around the belly.
Practicing yoga for belly fat not only tones the stomach but also strengthen abdominal muscles and rejuvenate the entire body.
A 2016 study 4 on abdominally obese women proved that a 12-weeks long yoga intervention is helpful in reducing abdominal obesity. It does so by reducing, perceived stress levels, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio, and BMI values.
12 Simple Yoga Asanas to Reduce Belly Fat
- Kumbhakasana (Plank Pose)
- Navasana (Boat Pose)
- Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward-facing dog Pose)
- Paschimottanasana (Seated-Forward Bend)
- Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
- Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
- Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)
- Apanasana (Knees-to-Chest Pose)
- Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose)
- Uttanapadasana (Raised foot Pose)
- Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
1. Kumbhakasana (Plank Pose)
Plank Pose is practiced balancing the body on the arms and toes with palms and belly facing the floor. In the final position, the head, shoulders, hips, and heels are aligned in the same plane.
The way body is held in the final position of Kumbhakasana, it’s considered a great exercise to get a flat stomach. It helps in tightening the stomach muscles, strengthening the core, as well as targeting the entire abdomen, thus practiced as yoga asana to reduce belly fat.
- Come to your all fours to assume table-top position.
- Step your feet backwards activating the arches and curling the toes under lift the knees off the floor.
- The lifted body in final position is balanced on the hands and toes with face towards the floor.
2. Navasana (Boat Pose)
The body in the boat pose is balanced on the sit bones while the legs and upper body is lifted off the floor. It creates too much contraction of the abdominal muscles and organs.
The pressure that the belly feels holding navasana is enough to help you burn belly fat.
- Lie down on your back extending the legs straight and arms by the sides of your body.
- Raise your chest and feet off the floor simultaneously.
- Extend your arms towards the knees with fingers pointing forward.
- The body is balanced on the tailbone assuming a V-shape with an erect back and legs.
3. Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward-facing dog Pose)
Downward dog is the most widely practiced yoga asana to reduce belly fat. It includes balancing the body on the arms and feet while keeping the legs and torso bent in an inverted V-shape.
Therefore, the posture can be held intact if the core muscles are kept engaged all the time. Also, this pose helps in accelerating the metabolic rate thus enhances the ability to lose belly fat.
- Begin with assuming the table top pose stacking the wrists under the shoulders and knees under the hips.
- Pressing your palms on the floor and curling the toes in lift your knees off the floor.
- Raise your hips to the sky and pushing them back try to bring the heels to the floor.
- Let your head and neck hang down between the arms.
- The final pose appears as an inverted V-shape.
4. Paschimottanasana (Seated-Forward Bend)
Paschimottanasana is a great stretch for the entire body including the abdominal muscles, liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, and adrenal glands.
This asana flattens the stomach as well as activates the solar plexus reducing the stress level (cortisol hormone), thereby, shedding the fat deposition from the body. Thus, it works efficiently as a yoga pose to reduce belly fat.
- Sit extending the legs forward and placing your arms by the sides with palms facing the floor.
- Stretch your arms over the head and from there lean forward from the waist to reach the toes by the hands.
- Keeping your back straight press your belly against the thighs and touch your forehead to the shins.
- Stay in this pose with continuous breathing for 20 seconds.
5. Uttanasana (Standing forward Bend)
As the name suggests, it brings the upper body into an inversion with feet on the floor. This compresses the belly against the thighs and aids in improving the functioning of the digestive system.
Therefore, along with stimulating the abdominals it improves digestion and metabolism. Thus, helps in getting rid of belly fat faster due to the above-mentioned factors.
- Stand tall keeping your feet together and arms by the sides.
- Lift your arms overhead and then bend forward at the waist.
- Maintaining the back integrity reach the floor placing the palms by the sides of your feet.
- Align your toes and fingertips in the same plane.
- Try to bring your forehead to your knees and belly pressed against the thighs.
6. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
Triangle pose involved bending and twisting of the torso which squeezes stomach muscles. This stretches the abdominal region and beneficial in fat reduction.
This considers triangle pose as an effective enough yoga for slim waist and flat stomach.
- Stand straight keeping your legs 3-4 feet apart.
- Spread your arms at shoulder level.
- Turn your right foot 90 degrees outwards and left foot slightly towards the right.
- Bend your torso towards the right leg form the hips.
- Reach the floor with the right hand placing it beside the right foot and extend the left arm upwards.
- Turn your neck to look up towards the left fingertips.
- Stay there for 30 seconds.
7. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
It is performed lying on your belly which categorizes it prone yoga pose for the stomach. It stretches the core, chest, and spine by arching your back, neck, and head into a backbend. This stretches and strengthens the abdominal muscles.
Also the relaxing effects of this pose helps in getting rid of any kind of stress which eventually aids in getting rid of accumulated belly fat
- Lie down in the prone pose.
- Bending the elbows place your palms on the sides of the chest stacking hands under shoulders.
- Pressing the palms on the floor, lift your head, chest and shoulders off the floor.
- Keep your elbows bent engage your core muscle holding the pose.
- Opening the chest and shoulders stretch your neck throwing the head backwards.
- Stretch in this pose for about 30 seconds breathing deeply.
8. Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)
Camel pose intensely stretches the abdominal muscles while standing on the knees and arching the back, neck, and head into a backbend. The stretch over the abdominals immensely increases when the arms are extended to place the hands over the heels kept backward.
Thus, it is not wrong to consider it as the most effective yoga to reduce belly fat.
- Begin with kneeling on the floor and keeping the upper body erect.
- Place your palms on the lower back with fingertips pointing downwards.
- Gently arching the back stretch the neck muscle and let the head hang backwards.
- Extending the arms backward place your hands over the soles of the feet one-by-one.
- Hold this pose feeling the stretch in the abdominal muscles for 20-30 seconds breathing normally.
9. Apanasana (Knees-to-Chest Pose)
Holding the knees to the chest while lying on the back pressurizes the abdomen as the thighs are continuously pressed against the belly.
Knees-to-chest pose can be performed by anyone and its compressing effects on the bulging stomach makes it an easy move of yoga for belly fat.
- Lie on your back bending your knees and placing your feet on the floor.
- Keeping the knees bent lift your feet off the floor to draw the knees towards the chest.
- Wrap the arms around the shins squeezing the knees together.
- Tuck your chin to your chest and keep the core muscles active.
10. Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose)
This is an advanced level pose practiced rolling on the outer edge of one of the feet and stacking both the ankles together. Here the body weight is balanced on one arm and the outer edge of the lower leg.
Side plank involves the core muscles throughout the pose and turning the torso towards one side makes it a pose that loses fat around the belly and waist.
- Begin with downward facing dog pose.
- Gradually shift your weight to the outside edge of the left foot lifting the right foot off the floor.
- Keep the outer edge of the left foot in contact with the floor and stack the right foot over the left.
- Lift the right hand off the floor and wing it upwards and turn the torso to the right.
- Turn your neck to look towards the raised hand.
- Balance the entire body on the left hand and outer edge of the left foot.
- Hold the pose for 15-30 seconds.
11. Uttanpadasana (Raised foot Pose)
Raised foot pose basically works on contracting the rectus abdominis and abdominal organs around while lying on the back and raising the legs.
Uttana padasana melts the belly fat by toning the waist, abs, and hips. Hence, practicing raised foot pose is a smart choice for getting rid of belly fat.
- Begin lying the floor on your back keeping the arms by the sides and palms facing the floor.
- Taking the breath in raise both the legs off the floor with toes pointing upwards.
- Keep the head and shoulders intact on the floor and keep the legs straight while lifted.
- Stay in the pose for at least 10 seconds breathing normally.
12. Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
Switching to power yoga for belly fat is the most preferred practice for anyone who wants to get rid of a flabby tummy. It includes a flow of 12 poses which improves overall fitness of the practitioner.
Within power yoga, Sun salutation not only creates heat in the entire body but also impacts the body in every way which cuts the fat accumulation in and around the belly.
- Stand keeping the legs and feet together, relaxing the shoulders, and opening the chest.
- Join your palms in front of the chest in prayer pose.
- Inhale raising both arms stretching slightly backwards.
- Exhale to bend forward at the hips to reach the floor with the palms touching the forehead to the knees.
- Bend your left knee to draw your right leg backward bringing the right toes and knee to the floor.
- Keep your left foot in between the palms and look upwards stretching the spine.
- Then taking the left foot beside the right assume the down-dog pose.
- From down-dog press your palms and toes against the floor and lower your knees, chest and forehead to the floor to attain Eight Limbed pose.
- In eight limbed pose, make sure to keep the hips slightly elevated.
- Now, stretch forward bringing the bring the core to the floor and lifting the head, chest and shoulders to come into cobra pose.
- Keeping the palms on the floor lift your torso to form down-dog pose.
- Inhale to bring the right foot forward placing it between the palms and stretch upward keeping the left toes and knee to the floor stretched backwards.
- Then, draw your left foot forward beside the right, bend forward keeping the palms on the floor, and forehead to the knees.
- Lift the torso and arms overhead to stretch the neck and back into slight backbend.
- Lower your arms to join the hands in front of the chest in prayer pose.
- Bring your arms by the sides of the body to come to initial pose.
- Repeat one more round switching the leg position in eight-limbed pose.
Get a toned body, flat tummy, and enhanced lifestyle practicing these yoga for belly fat. Include all theses poses into your exercising regimen and stick to your commitment of consistent practice to get the desired results.
Practice patiently and observe the positive transformation in your fitness levels and productivity in every field that require your physical fitness.
- Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights – Harvard Health
- The role of mindfulness-based interventions in the treatment of obesity and eating disorders https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0965229913000964
- Focus on the causes of belly fat and how to shift it! https://www.imi.com.hk/how-to-lose-belly-fat.html
- Yoga in Women With Abdominal Obesity— a Randomized Controlled Trial (nih.gov)