By practicing yoga, you'll reduce stress, which naturally combats belly fat; in addition, some specific yoga poses for belly fat can increase the positive effects that yoga can have on your waistline.
Belly Fat and Yoga
Belly fat is a special kind of fat deposit area in the body. Humans acquire relatively large amounts of fat in this region because this is where the stress hormone, cortisol, influences fat storage.
People who have chronic stress, even if not at extreme levels, have difficulty reducing belly fat with traditional abdominal exercises. The truth is that in order to reduce overall body fat, one must reduce fat, build muscle, and reduce stress.
Learn more about the cortisol and fat relationship in this study from the University of New Mexico.
Yoga can play a large role in reducing stress, and by extension, belly fat. Make sure your practice includes a combination of both asana and pranayama. Lastly, a few specific yoga poses for belly fat can help further trim your middle.
Yoga Poses for Belly Fat
All of these poses stretch, tone, and target the core region of the body, including the abdominals and the lower back. As with all yoga practice, performing these poses on an empty stomach will be more comfortable and offer better results.
While this is not a single pose, the Sun Salutation Sequence is a great one for belly fat, as well as the muscles in the core region of the body. A series of 12 poses, Sun Salutations are traditionally performed in the morning (although they need not be), and the sequence is repeated several times at whatever rhythm appeals to the yogi. Some perform the 12 poses at a rather quick pace in order to add a cardiovascular element to their yoga practice, but if you want to target belly fat, your best bet is to execute the sequence at a slow, steady pace, repeating the sequence four to five times daily.
Cobra Pose may look easy in pictures, but when done correctly, it requires considerable strength. The key, especially for beginners, is to not force into an unnatural version of the pose. From a flat position lying on your stomach, you push with your arms, raising your upper body off of the ground. Don't be too eager to come into an extreme raised position; elbows remain close to the sides and the back has a soft arch. If you have too much strain on the small of your back, inch down. This pose stretches and tones the abdominal area, while opening the chest region and strengthening the back muscles, making it an excellent pose for strengthening the core and reducing belly fat.
Standing Bow Pose
Both the traditional Bow Pose (see below) and the standing version are difficult poses for beginning yogis. Practice this pose with caution, especially if you don't have an instructor helping you master the pose. This pose entails balancing on one leg, with the other leg extended up and behind your body, held there by one arm. Here's an example of Standing Bow Pose.
The traditional Bow Pose is done from a position lying flat on the floor on your stomach, but the effect it can have on your body's core region is similar to that of the Standing Bow Pose. While in the standing version, one leg and foot are raised up and above the body, in the traditional pose, both legs and feet extend up and away from the body, providing an equal benefit to both sides of the abdominal region at once. As with Cobra Pose, work gently into this posture; a slow and steady practice will produce favorable results.
Regular Yoga Practice
The best way to reap the fat-reducing benefits of yoga is to practice on a regular basis. Sporadic practice is certainly better than nothing, but regular sessions, at least two to three times per week, will enable you to quickly enjoy all of the benefits of yoga, including stress reduction and reduced belly fat.