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The Only 5 Yoga Exercises You Need To Shrink Your Belly

Pose your way to flatter tummy with these expert-recommended yoga exercises.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Whether you're seeking a spiritual connection, a meditative escape, or a toned physique, yoga has something to offer everyone. And if you haven't tried yoga for weight loss, you're missing out. A 2022 meta-review published in Obesity Science & Practice concluded that adopting a regular yoga practice can help substantially reduce your body mass index (BMI). Among yoga's many health benefits, there's a little-known secret: Some yoga poses are powerhouses for sculpting and strengthening the abdominal region. If you're eager to learn more, we're here today with the five best yoga exercises to melt belly fat.

Get excited, because you don't need to contort into every pose imaginable or have gymnast-level flexibility to reap the benefits for your belly. Just a handful of common moves will do the trick. However, it's important to note that yoga alone won't help you shrink belly fat.

Jesse Zucker, CPT, an NCSF certified personal trainer and certified yoga instructor at Barbend, tells Eat This, Not That!, "If you want to lose fat from your belly, it's important to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, manage stress, and sleep well. You can't target spots on your body to lose fat, but you can do these five yoga poses to build your ab muscles and core strength. These poses work multiple muscle groups to raise your heart rate and burn more calories. Your hard-earned muscles will show when you lose fat by eating in a calorie deficit."

So, whether you're new to yoga or a seasoned yogi looking to refine your routine, the following five moves are killer for tightening your tummy. Keep reading for descriptions of the five best yoga exercises to melt belly fat. And when you're finished, don't miss The 30-Day Standing Workout to Sculpt Ripped Abs in Record Time.

Boat Pose

woman doing boat pose on yoga mat

Boat pose requires you to balance on your bottom while your body forms a "V" shape. This move engages your abdominal muscles to maintain stability while toning your midsection and building a foundation for a flatter belly.

"Boat pose is performed on the floor, balancing on your tailbone with your torso and legs lifted off the ground," says Zucker. "You can keep your legs bent, or straighten them for more of a challenge. Holding this position works your abs to keep your torso up, spine straight, and legs lifted."

Hold your boat pose for 30 seconds, and repeat it three times. To make it more of a challenging ab workout, start in boat pose, lower to a hollow body bold position, and come back up into your boat pose. Complete three sets of 10 reps for this advanced variation.

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Plank Pose

woman doing pushups on yoga mat, exercises to lose shoulder fat

Planks are a classic ab exercise. Besides engaging your belly, the plank pose strengthens your shoulders, arms, and legs. Think of it as a full-body toner with the belly-shrinking benefits as the cherry on top.

"Plank pose is a powerful full-body pose that works your entire core while strengthening your upper and lower body at the same time. As you hold your plank, draw your belly button toward your spine to engage and squeeze your abs," says Zucker. Perform three rounds of 30 to 45-second plank pose holds.

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Side Plank Pose

fit woman doing core rotation exercises for abs, side plank with arm reach

The side plank pose challenges more than your balance. It targets your obliques (side abs), contributing to a well-defined waist.

"Side plank pose strengthens one side at a time while working one arm at a time. Be sure to lift your bottom hip away from the floor to work your obliques further," explains Zucker. Aim for three sets of 20 to 30-second planks per side.

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Bridge Pose

woman looking serious while doing bridge pose

Known mainly for its spine and hip-stretching benefits, the bridge pose is a sneaky belly fat blaster. As you lift your hips toward the ceiling, your core is actively engaged, ensuring those abs get the workout they deserve.

"Bridge pose is often cued as a backbend in yoga, but it's also a great core and glutes exercise," states Zucker. "Try to keep your lower back straight, and draw your navel to your spine to engage your abs as you lift your hips. Squeeze your glutes at the top of your bridge. This pose works your lower body in addition to your abs." Do three sets of 10 to 12 bridges. Alternatively, hold your bridge for 30 seconds, and repeat three times.

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Chair Pose

woman doing chair pose

This pose requires you to sink into an imaginary chair, all while keeping your core tight and engaged to speed up belly fat loss.

Zucker says, "Chair pose will work your entire body while strengthening your abs. You're holding the bottom of a squat position and using your ab muscles to lift your torso and spine straight. It's a major workout for your lower body. Also, supporting your weight will raise your heart rate, leading to a greater calorie burn. Be sure not to let your upper body collapse to get the most core benefits." Hold your chair pose for 30 to 45 seconds, and repeat three times. Alternatively, perform three sets of five chair poses while holding the pose for 15 seconds.

Adam Meyer
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more about Adam
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