Target Your Obliques With These 3 Yoga Poses

When we think of our cores, our obliques aren’t typically the first set of muscles that spring to mind—rectus abdominus, aka six-pack, I’m looking at you. However, your obliques muscles are key in many yoga postures and daily life moves. After all, they stabilize your spine when you rotate your torso and pelvis.

Located on either side of your rectus abdominus, your thin yet powerful external obliques run diagonally from your ribs to your rectus abdominus. Your external obliques are situated just below, perpendicular to your external obliques.

In asana practice, challenging poses like Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose) engage your obliques, as do more grounded poses like Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose). Off of your yoga mat, you use these muscles when you throw a ball (your obliques pull your shoulder around.) And when you kick a ball, your obliques rotate your pelvis. Your obliques are in play when you strength train as well: they help stabilize your vertebrae to maintain spinal alignment when you lift a heavy weight.

As you move through these three yoga poses, use the cues provided to focus on your oblique muscles in each shape. Bring the awareness you cultivate into your next longer yoga practice, and with you into day to day life, and feel your connection to your center deepen.

Lie on your right side with your bottom leg extended, foot flexed. Place your right elbow down on the mat, bend it to about 60 degrees, and support your head with your right palm. Ground down evenly from your elbow to your foot. Stack your body so that your left hip and shoulder are directly above your right hip and shoulder. Lift your right waistline up and away from the floor slightly to engage your obliques. Using your left hand, draw your top (left) knee to your torso. Then, use your left hand to grab hold of your thigh, calf, foot, or big toe. Flex your left foot, and extend your leg up to the ceiling, so that it’s nearly perpendicular to the floor. As you lift your top leg, press your left sitting bone toward your right heel. This action helps activate your core muscles and stabilizes your body in the pose. Release the hold on your foot and challenge yourself to use the strength of your left obliques to help you keep your top leg lifted. Draw your left front ribs into your body.Lengthen your back waist.Hold for 5–10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.