So today I’ve prepared a yoga for flat abs tutorial–on the very day when we had Quincy, our longtime contributor, write an incisive piece on whether Western yoga is a cultural appropriation. Whoops! I’ve always believed in Peaceful Dumpling as a collage of our different voices–someone once told me it’s like a wonderful, delicious buffet of beautiful articles. That means I sometimes have to schedule posts so that we don’t confuse readers with our messages, but this week today was the one day I could do a fitness tutorial. And it’s yoga poses that help create Western-centric ideal of beauty which includes a flat, toned tummy. And I’m wearing, like, one of those ridiculously expensive designer yoga leggings too (it was a gift!). Sooo guilty!! [If you want just the tutorial skip the next para!]
The truth is I totally do take bits and pieces of yoga that suit my lifestyle and taste without veering into real yogi territory. And I do the same thing with my religion, which is Catholicism. Personally I don’t think that there is anything wrong with embracing just a part of a culture, philosophy, religion, or discipline and not the whole thing. I don’t think you’re necessarily a better person if you are a 100% super Catholic who believes everything the Church says, who is chaste before marriage and goes to confession every week. I don’t think you’re a better person if you are 100% super Ayurvedic yogi who meditates every single day and thinks of yoga as strictly a spiritual exercise. It makes you a better yogi (or a better Catholic)–to be sure. But then again, I think it’s the attitude you bring to the mat (or the church) when you do go that really matters. Often I see people who seem very privileged, very Lululemon/Gwyneth Paltrow-like who get on the mat and get completely into it–and I totally buy that their experience is authentic, whether or not they know Sanskrit or have studied yoga in India.
Do I understand yoga’s true raison d’etre? Yes, absolutely. I actually really love chanting, mantras, and other more spiritual aspects of yoga practice. But I really also love how my body feels after yoga class: fit, strong, yet supple and relaxed. One of the physical benefits I really enjoy is all the core work. So without further ado, here are the yoga poses for flattening your core.
Vinyasa: Tadasana, forward bend, chaturanga dandasana
Start by standing, feet together arms by your sides. Swan dive forward into a forward bend. Inhale look up; exhale fold over your legs. Inhale step back into plank; exhale and lower down halfway, elbows pressing into your sides (Chaturanga dandasana). Inhale and press yourself up into upward facing dog, thighs lifted off the floor.
Engage your core and as you exhale, roll from the tops of your feet into downward facing dog.
Hold here for five breaths; at the end of exhale of the fifth breath, step or jump to the top of the mat. Inhale rise half way; exhale fold over. Inhale and come up to stand. Repeat the whole sequence five times.
Three Legged Vinyasa
After you flow through your vinyasa and end up in downward facing dog, raise your right leg straight behind you into Three Legged Dog.
Inhale, wrap your core and bring your right knee to opposite elbow or bicep. Stay here for a few breaths. Exhale and shoot the leg out behind you again. Inhale and bring the right knee to right elbow or bicep this time, staying here for a few breaths. Exhale out to three legged dog.
From three legged dog, shift the weight forward onto your left toe (right leg is still floating). Exhale and carefully lower to three legged chaturanga dandasana; inhale into upward dog. Press yourself up and back into your seats for child’s pose.
From child’s pose, come onto your forearms and toes, forearms parallel and shoulder-width apart. Hold here for ten deep breaths.
From plank, walk your feet in as you pike your hips toward the ceiling for dolphin pose. Stay here for ten breaths; then, practice lifting your heels and lowering them down, shifting the weight onto your shoulders more each time you come onto tip toes.
Lie back down on your mat. Bring hands under your head, elbows wide; inhale and lift your tailbone off the floor, then exhale and curl up toward the right as you bring your right knee into the chest. Switch sides and do 10 reps to slow breath.
Finish off with boat pose. Start by sitting with your feet flat on the floor, parallel side by side. Exhale and lift your legs off the floor, straightening out the knees, your arms firm in front of you. Hold here for 10 breaths.
More core exercises: Ballet Floor Exercises for Abs
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling