15 Powerful Yoga Asanas To Reduce Belly Fat
Belly fat can be the scourge of women everywhere. Sometimes, it just won’t go away, no matter what you do or how hard you try.
In this extended article, we’re going to take an in-depth look at:
- What stubborn belly fat is and why it’s so hard to shift
- 15 powerful yoga asanas that will reduce your belly fat
- Other benefits of yoga
- More ways you can beat belly fat
But first …
What Is Belly Fat and Why Is It So Problematic?
When people say that they’re finding it really hard to lose belly fat, they’re not referring to just any old type of fat – they’re referring to stubborn belly fat. And there’s a difference.
Stubborn fat is fat around your belly that you can’t shift, no matter how hard you’re trying. You diet, you exercise and you do the right things, but it still sticks around.
This can be exhausting, frustrating and even depressing.
So what’s going on? And is there a way to lose this belly fat? (Yes, yoga can help – as we’ll find out soon).
The Deal With Stubborn Belly Fat
Each time we eat, our body breaks our food down into a composite of substance. It then releases insulin into our bloodstream.
Once we’ve been fed, our body doesn’t start burning fat right away. Instead, it takes a break and has a rest! It doesn’t need to burn any fat just yet and it’s got all the energy it needs for the moment.
As the clock ticks away, our body absorbs the nutrients from our food and our insulin levels slowly but surely drop off. This puts our body on high alert as it comes to the realisation that we’re running out of energy once again.
So what does it do? It begins burning fat so that it can restore its energy levels.
Each day, your body goes through the above metabolic process. It stores nutrients, it burns fat. And when your body burns fat, it releases chemicals that join onto receptors on your fat cells.
We have two types of receptors on our fat cells:
Alpha slows down fat metabolism, while beta quickens it up.
Quick question: Does this mean that stubborn fat has more beta receptors … or alpha ones?
It has more alpha ones, which is why it’s so darn hard to shift.
The problem, then, is that when you’re doing all that you can to lose stubborn belly fat – dieting, exercising, living well – your fat with the alpha receptors just isn’t responding.
And if they do respond at all, they respond slowly.
So how do you get them to respond faster? As we’ll soon find out, yoga is a great way to do this. But first let’s take a look at …
What You Might Be Doing Wrong?
“I’ve eliminated all my bad habits but I STILL can’t lose my belly fat. I might as well give up.”
It’s really great that you’ve cut out your bad habits – whether this means giving up junk food, quitting smoking, going to bed earlier and so on – but there are other things you need to take a look at here.
For one thing, your routine might be problematic.
What does this mean?
Let’s imagine a lady who wants to lose belly fat. She eats the same thing for breakfast each day, which is a bowl or oatmeal with mixed berries.
For lunch she always has a plate of scrambled eggs with avocados, while her dinner is usually a few pieces of meat complemented by potatoes and a few vegetables. She drinks lots of water throughout the day and snacks on protein bars and dried fruit. It’s all really healthy stuff and it’s hard to imagine why she can’t lose her belly fat, right?
The issue is that her diet is too fixed. She’s consuming the same amount of calories each day – around 3,000 – which means that her body has plateaued.
When you consume the same amount of calories each and every day, a funny thing happens to your body: It begins to stagnate. In a sense, nothing happens. You’re eating the same foods day in and day out, and your body fat remains at 13%.
This is precisely what’s happening to the lady in our example. Her body has got used to her consistent daily caloric intake, and her body fat is no longer changing.
The bottom line is that consuming the same amount of calories each day means that nothing will change. As well as yoga – which we’ll get to soon – you need to change your daily caloric intake so that it’s different from one day to the next.
The trick is to keep your body guessing so that it doesn’t have a chance to relax, get comfortable – and stagnate.
For example, what do we imagine would happen i the lady we mentioned earlier eats more than usual on Monday, less than usual on Tuesday and more than usual again on Wednesday?
Her body is kept on its toes and she’s playing with her hormones – which is totally what she needs to do.
When you consume more calories than usual, leptin – the weight loss hormone that controls our appetite – tells your body that “hey, this girl is fit to burst! She’s stuffed!”
If you eat lots, your leptin levels soar which puts your body into a fat-burning state. Excellent.
So what happens if you eat loads on Monday and put your body into a fat-burning state, you can then eat less on Tuesday and your body will still burn more fat just because your leptin levels will still be high.
On Wednesday, you could assume a normal eating day (you know, eat what you normally would without us intervening).
If you vary the amount of calories you consume each day, you can lose more stubborn belly fat that otherwise will not go away.
Of course, there’s a LOT more to losing belly fat than just varying your caloric intake. One of the keys to shifting that awkward belly fat that you never want to see ever again in your life are practice exercises.
In other words, yoga asanas.
If you can master even a handful of the 15 yoga poses we’re going to present, you can totally stay in shape and tone up your tummy – provided that you practice each day. Yoga decreases unwanted and unsightly belly fat, but crucially it also lets you control both your mind and body better than ever so that you don’t give into mindless eating that causes you to put weight on in the first place.
Now that we know what can cause stubborn belly fat, let’s take a look at the 15 yoga asana’s that can help to shift it:
15 Powerful Yoga Asanas To Reduce Belly Fat
1. Mountain Pose
Also known as the Tadasana, this is a good way to warm up before you dive into yoga properly. It boosts your blood circulation, therefore “warming” your body up.
To do the mountain pose, you need to begin with your feet flat. Spread your heels out a bit but keep your big toes touching each other. Make sure that your spine is erect too, and that your palms are facing your body.
Then, extend your hands forwards and bring your palms closer together before taking a deep inhale of breath.
Stretch your spine, fold your hands and raise them up high above your head – as far as you can!
At this point, lift your ankles, stand on your toes and look up at the ceiling. Can’t stand on your toes? Look at the ceiling but keep your feet flat instead.
Try to hold this pose for at least 20 seconds (although 30 seconds would be great) and breathe normally. Inhale, exhale, relax and bring your toes back to the mat.
Do the mountain pose 10 times for a proper warm-up. It will boost your posture, but more importantly it will also firm up your abdomen.
2. Standing Forward Bend
The standing forward bend – also known as the Padahastasana – compresses your stomach as you bend forward. This is a great way to burn belly fat and, over time, can leave you with a toned stomach. Ace!
To do this asana, adopt the mountain pose. Let your arms hang by the side of your body and bring your heels together so that they touch (aww).
Keeping your spine nice and erect, you need to inhale and lift your hands up.
As you do this, exhale. Then, bend your body forward so that you’re basically parallel to the floor.
Inhale again, exhale again, and bend your body forward so far that you’re almost falling away from your hips.
If you can, touch the floor with your palms – but don’t bend your knees. This is a tricky move, so for now you could just touch your feet or even your ankles if you can’t make it all the way to the floor.
Tuck your stomach in, hold your breath and assume this position for at least a minute. If possible, aim for 90 seconds.
Exhaling, you then want to life your body back up and return to the mountain pose.
We suggest that you do this asana 10 times daily but take a very brief rest in between poses.
The benefits? Your digestion will improve which will help to tone your abdominal muscles.
3. Sun Salutations
The sun salutations – or Surya Namaskar as it’s also known – brings together 12 different yoga positions. Reckon you can handle that?! Then let’s go!
To begin the sun salutation you need to be standing with your feet touching each other while relaxing your shoulders and expanding your chest.
Inhale and bring both your arms up. Exhale and keep lifting your arms until you adopt the prayer pose in front of your chest.
As you inhale, stretch backwards and lift your hands.
Exhaling, you then need to bend your body forwards and – if possible – butt your knees with your head.
Bend your right knee and stretch your left leg backwards while keeping your palms on the floor. Keep holding your breath and stretch your right leg so that you assume what’s known as the plank pose.
Hold your spine out and bring your body to the floor where your chin, chest, and knees need to touch the floor.
Inhaling, bend backwards and stretch forwards. Keep your hands on the floor at all times. Inhale again, and bring your left leg forward to between your elbows.
Stretching upwards, bring your right leg forwards next, take a sharp intake of breath, and return to the position you started in.
This is a complex asana that must NOT be attempted during menstruation.
4. Wind Relieving Pose
The wind relieving pose asana is surely self-explanatory. If it isn’t, this pose helps to relieve trapped gas. Honestly! It also helps with other gastric issues, such as constipation and indigestion.
To begin, lie down with your face upwards, your feet stretched out and your arms by your side. Make sure that your heels are touching.
Bending your knees, inhale, exhale and slowly bring your knees (still bent) to your chest. Apply pressure on your stomach with your thighs and clasp your hands tight under your thighs so that your knees stay in place.
Inhale, exhale, lift your head up and touch your knees with your chin. Assume this position for at least a minute but 90 seconds if possible.
Breathe deeply, exhale.
Releasing your knees, rest your head on the floor.
Place your hands at the side of your body again, with your palms touching the mat.
Repeat this asana at least seven times but take short 15 second breaks in between.
5. Seated Forward Bend
A more basic pose, the seated forward bend takes aim at the centre of your solar plexus. It tones your stomach and also brings benefit to your hips, thighs and hamstrings.
To begin, sit on your mat in Padamasana, keeping your spine nice and erect.
Then, stretch your legs to the front of you and point your feet at the ceiling.
Inhale sharply, and stretch your hands high above your head. As you do so, don’t bend your elbows.
Exhaling, bend forward with your thighs and try to to touch your toes with your hands. If this is too difficult for you right now, try touching your thighs or ankles.
Hold whatever it is you’re touching and pull backwards until you can feel it in your hamstrings.
Breathe in, hold your stomach, and hold this pose for at least a minute. The more you do this, the longer you should be able to hold it (up to 5 minutes!).
Exhale, bring your body forward and return your hands and body to the Padamasana pose.
6. Camel Pose
To begin the camel pose – which is also known as the ushtrasana -you need to sit in Vajrasana.
Then, gradually raise your body up from your knees until you are seated with your knees supporting your whole body weight.
At this point, your heels need to be making a perpendicular line with your mat.
Exhale, arch your back before bringing your hands to the back of your body.
If possible, hold your ankles – first your left and then switch to your left ankle (or vice versa).
Next, stretch backwards and tilt your head behind until your stomach begins to feel as though it’s stretching. Assume this pose for around 25 seconds as a beginner. After you’ve attempted it a few times, you should be able to hold it for a minute.
Exhale, relax and return to Vajrasana.
We suggest that you do this asana 5 times each day and take 15 second breaks in between. Once you’re pretty good at it, you can do it 30 times a day.
7. Boat Pose
The boat pose is one of the most potent belly fat burning yoga asanas there is. If you can master this pose, you should be able to shift your unwanted belly fat in no time at all!
To begin, lie down on your mat and assume the supine position. Make sure that your legs are stretched out and that your toes face the ceiling.
Inhale sharply, exhale and raise your body from the mat, stretching your arms so that they’re parallel with your legs.
Make sure that your toes and fingers are in the same position and look with your eyes at your toes.
Hold this position until you feel your stomach muscles contract.
After a minute or so, inhale, exhale, relax and return your body to the supine position.
We recommend that you do this pose 5 times each day at first. The better you get at, the more times per day you can do it (up to 30!).
8. Cat Pose
The cat pose – which is also known as the cow cat pose – contracts your stomach muscles, helps to melt your belly fat and can therefore tone your tummy. Excellent.
To begin the cat pose, sit i vajrasana.
Breathe normally and lift yourself from the position. Your body needs to be parallel to the mat so that it rests on your palms and knees.
Your palms need to be placed underneath your shoulders and they need to face the floor, while your knees should be underneath your hips.
Keep your knees slightly apart so that your weight is distributed evenly.
Inhale sharply, bring your head up and push your back down.
Hold your breath and assume this pose for as much as 30 seconds.
Exhale, lower your head, arch your back upwards and keep your stomach and butt firm. You’ll soon feel a contraction.
Breathe sharply and hold the position for another 30 seconds.
Exhale and return to vajrasana.
We recommend that you repeat this belly fat busting asana for 10 times per day before moving up to 30.
9. Raised Foot Pose
The raised foot pose is a classic asana that eliminates belly fat from your lower stomach area. It also targets your thighs and hips, and is especially good at shifting pregnancy fat.
To being the raised foot pose, lie on your mat. Stretch your legs and keep your back on the floor.
Inhale sharply, exhale gradually, and arch your back.
Touch the floor with the back of your head but keep your hands in their initial position and keep breathing normally.
Stretch as much as you can but don’t hurt your back.
Then, inhale sharply and lift your legs off the map. Make a 45-degree angle and assume this pose for as much as 30 seconds. You can hold it for 15 seconds for now if that’s easier.
Exhale and raise your legs to a 90-degree angle. Keep breathing regularly and assume this pose for another 30 seconds.
Inhale sharply and bring your legs back to the supine position.
We recommend that you do this asana ten times per day.
10. Bow Pose
The bow pose is an excellent asana to do if you want to tone your stomach.
Start by lying down in the prone position on your mat, keeping your legs together.
Exhale sharply, bend your knees to the ceiling and raise your head.
Then, bend backwards while bringing your hands backwards.
If possible, use your hands to hold your ankles and use your abdomen to support your body weight.
Raise your knees higher if you can and remember to inhale sharply.
Exhale, relax and stretch.
We suggest that you perform this asana ten times per day for now. As you get more experienced, you should be able to do it 30 times per day.
11. Cobra Pose
If you can pose like a cobra, you can totally stretch your abdomen and lose stubborn belly fat.
Begin by lying down in the prone position on your mat. Your legs need to be ever so slightly apart and your palms need to face the floor.
Move your palms to underneath your shoulders, inhale and raise your head and chest slowly off the ground.
Keep your eyes on the ceiling, keep your butt nice and firm and assume this position for about 30 seconds.
Inhale sharply ad lift your body from the waist upwards. Bend backwards but don’t hurt yourself! Assume this pose for another minute and keep breathing regularly.
Exhale, return your body to the prone position, stretching your arms out.
We recommend that you do this asana at least 10 times per session at first. Once you’ve done it a few times, you should be able to do it 30 times per session.
12. Downward Facing Dog Pose
This asana sounds really awkward! But it’s easy to do and will help you to shift stubborn belly fat.
Lie on the mat on your stomach before gradually raising your body so that you’re on all fours.
Make sure your feet and hands are next to each other and assume this pose for 30 seconds or so.
As well as helping to shift unwanted belly fat, the downward facing dog pose also boosts bone density and can give you a boost in energy.
13. Chair Pose
For the chair pose, you need to begin by standing on your mat.
Bend your knees at the same time and extend your hands out in front of you. Have your palms face each other.
Hold this easy pose for around a minute and repeat 30 times or so.
The chair pose is an effective asana that works your leg and arm muscles, and it also gives your heart a boost – which is awesome!
Crucially, it also strengthens your abdominal organs and tones your tummy.
14. The Warrior Pose
The warrior pose is just as awesome as it sounds!
To begin, you need to stand on your mat, placing your left leg out in front.
Then, bend your knees and bring your palms together.
Stretch both your hands out in front of you and look to the ceiling.
Assume this position for 30 – 60 seconds, before repeating with your right leg extended out in front of you.
You should be able to feel your whole body stretching – especially your stomach area. As your stomach stretches, fat gets burnt. Fabulous.
The warrior pose also improvs your body balance, restores energy in your body and promotes better blood circulation.
15. Corpse Pose
The corpse pose is one of the simplest yoga asanas you can perform. It’s meant to relax your body after you’ve had an extensive yoga session, and although it doesn’t specifically target your abdomen, it’s a great way to ensure that you don’t do any damage to your tissues and muscles post-workout.
To do the cobra pose, begin by lying in the supine position.
Then, close your eyes while inhaling and exhaling sharply. Just let your whole body relax awhile.
Once your body is at peace and your breathing is back to normal, you can get on with your day.
Let’s take a look at the other health benefits of yoga:
Yoga Makes You Bendier
You’ve seen photos of people doing yoga. Perhaps you’ve watched someone doing yoga right in front of your very eyes.
And they look SO bendy that you’re left asking how they did that!
Yoga makes you more flexible. The first time you try yoga, you might not even be able to touch your toes.
And a back bend? Forget it!
Like with anything, though, the more you do it, the better (bendier) you’ll get.
What are the benefits of being bendier? For one thing, your joints won’t creak anymore; those niggling pains and aches will vanish!
Your hamstrings won’t be so tight anymore, and your posture will improve, too. Awesome. Y
Yoga Makes Your Muscles Stronger
Want stronger muscles? Then do more yoga – it’s that simple!
Yoga helps you to build muscle strength, and this is really beneficial because stronger muscles can prevent back pain, as well as debilitating conditions such as arthritis.
Yoga Looks After Your Spine
Your spine is kinda important and your spinal discs NEED movement. Without much movement, they won’t be able to get the crucial nutrients they need.
If you practice asana regularly, and add lots of twists, forward bends and back bends to your routine, you can strengthen your spine and keep it in tip top condition.
Yoga Improves Bone Health
A lot of us sadly don’t think about the health of our bones until we develop a condition like osteoporosis, and by that point it’s too late.
Bone health is really important, and it’s key that you look after your bones now so that your bones look after you as you get older.
Asanas really help you to preserve your bone health so that you’re not vulnerable to awful, crippling fractures and breaks.
Yoga Boosts Your Heart Rate
What’s so good about a boosted heart rate? Well, for one thing it can eliminate depression.
For another thing, it can prevent a heart attack.
A boosted heart rate is pretty sweet then, huh?!
Yoga Asanas can bring your heart rate into the aerobic range – which is the optimum.
Yoga Can Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is NOT cool. It can put you at risk of a heart attack. Not cool. Nope.
Yoga drops your blood pressure, which is amazing. Do it.
Yoga Lowers Blood Sugar
High blood sugar levels put you at risk of blindness, kidney failure and heart attack if you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes.
If you’ve not been diagnosed with diabetes? High sugar levels put you at risk of diabetes – and thus all the rest.
Yoga brings both your blood sugar levels and your bad cholesterol levels down, which is pretty sweet.
As well as yoga, here are 10 other ways to reduce belly fat:
Drink Lots of Water
Some say that we should aim to drink up to a gallon of water per day, but if that sounds like too much for you right now, you could try 5-6 glasses per day instead.
What’s important is that you drink more than you are at the moment.
Many of us know that water is super duper healthy. It’s pretty much the elixir of life. But many of us also don’t drink anywhere near enough of it.
Instead, we drink lots of coffee.
“Yeah but, think about it,” we hear you protesting. “If I drink 4-5 cups of coffee per day, that’s still a lot of water.”
It is. But the problem is that because caffeine is a diuretic, all that water that accompanies your coffee beans goes to waste.
How and why? Because a diuretic – such as caffeine and alcohol – makes us urinate more, which means we lose more water.
The issue here is that our body realises that we’re losing more water than usual and as a consequence it goes on red alert. To save as much water as possible, it stores more fluids around our belly. Not cool, but this is precisely where the term “beer belly” comes from. The more alcohol you drink, the more fluid you will have around your belly.
The same goes for coffee. From now on, it’s a good idea to reduce both your coffee and alcohol intake, and to drink more pure water instead.
Of course, water provides lots more health benefits too, not least the fact that it keeps you properly hydrated throughout the day which improves your mental and physical performance.
One of the worst bad habits you can keep hold of when you’re trying to lose weight is snacking.
Snacking truly is the bane of a dieter’s life. One snack, another snack there and another snack there rapidly builds up.
The problem is that, when we’re at work, we don’t even realise just how much snacks we’re consuming. While talking on the phone to clients, we’re dipping our hands in our bag of chocolates and sweets without even realising it and getting a bit fat.
And when we get home and check the scales, we’re totally dumbfounded.
“Where is all this fat coming from?!”
Now, we get it – it’s so easy to snack at work. Snacking is a way to pass the time and it’s a habit that’s hard to get out of. So what we’re gonna do is we’re not going to ask you to give up your snacks. Instead, we’re going to ask that you change your snacks.
That’s right – it’s totally possible to snack smartly and lose belly fat. Instead of sweets, try blueberries (they taste SO good and they’re low on calories). Instead of chocolates, try grapes.
Try protein bars and dried fruit, too. As well as being tasty and easy to eat, they’ll give you a shot of adrenaline which will help to keep you going through the afternoon at work, too.
Get More Sleep
This tip sounds really simple in theory – all you have to do is go to bed earlier! – but its problem lies in the very fact that we have to go to bed earlier … which is something many of us aren’t prepared to do!
However, if you want to shift that awkward belly fat, you have to do things you don’t want to do, right?
In 2018, more and more of us are working more hours. Many of us even take our work home with us. We also have more responsibilities and we’re probably more stressed than ever.
We get up early, work all day and stay up late. Lots of us probably send our final email of the day AFTER midnight!
Burning the midnight oil like this might sound really cool and perhaps you live by mottos like “sleep is for the weak!”
But did you know that lack of sleep can actually cause your belly fat to hang around?
When you don’t sleep enough, your body produces a hormone called ghrelin. This hormone makes you want ALL the sugar. It also creates an appetite for calorific food.
To stop ghrelin from getting it way, simply try sleeping more. You’ll also feel way more refreshed.
Stop Checking The Scales
Another really simple trick to ward off the belly fat is to stop checking the scales so much.
How does this one work?
Think about it: Each time you weigh yourself, you’re either happy or disappointed with the numbers. Sometimes, you’re a bit “meh.”
The problem when you’re disappointed or a bit “meh” is that you might ask “what’s the point of all this?”
If we constantly feel as though we’re getting no where, humans tend to do what humans do best – we resort to our bad habits. Just as drinkers will drink, eaters will eat.
To prevent yourself from getting triggered like this, keep away from the scales as much as you can.
Reduce the Amount of Starchy Carbs You Eat
If you eat too many starchy carbs, this could be the prime reason why you’re finding it hard to shift belly fat.
Starchy carbs include the likes of potatoes, pasta and rice. Sure, they’re nice and healthy and you should eat them sometimes. But the issue for you right now is that these starchy carbs give us more energy than we actually need.
So what happens is that all their surplus energy is stored as fat. Boo!
There’s no need to cut starchy carbs out of your diet altogether, but if you do eat a lot of them it’s a good idea to at least reduce your intake.
As well as starchy carbs, the most obvious thing you need to cut down on – or even eliminate altogether – is sugar. Yup, the white stuff is detrimental to your weight loss gains. Avoid it as much as possible from now on.