3 Yoga Moves Trainers Swear By For A Toned Core And Sculpted Obliques

November 8, 2021 by Justine Schwartz
shefinds | Fitness

If you want a smaller waist, aka a toned core and sculpted obliques or “side core,” there are incredible benefits to doing yoga. A study from the Department of Nursing Research and Transitional Science at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in 2016 found that yoga reduces body fat and waist circumference.

“The best way to a smaller waist is choosing a work-out designed to burn calories and tighten the abdominal muscles,” certified yoga instructor Brittany Hackman of Bulldog Yoga Online tells us, recommending Power Yoga and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Yoga as the perfect method for reaching this goal.

“The heat you generate in your body during a power yoga sequence helps you burn the necessary calories to stimulate weight loss,” she says. Plus, the combination of strength-building and cardio work in power and HIIT yoga means you get a full-body workout, “that not only feels rigorous and revitalizing but you will also see your waist shrink in the process.” That all sounds great!

The following power yoga movements will target the core, she says. And remember–a healthy body is top priority. “Strength training for the entire body and nutrition are key to achieving success for the body as a whole, as well as certain target areas!”

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Forearm Side Plank

"This exercise, also known a Thread-the Needle Crunches, is an incredible core body exercise that targets your core muscles, especially your obliques, while also building strength in your shoulder and upper back," Brittany explains. "By incorporating the dynamic movement of a thread-the-needle crunch with your side plank, you will have a tighter waistline and a stronger mid-section in no time!" Nice. 

How to do it: Starting in high-plank pose (top of a push-up), start to bend your elbows and place elbows down in place of wrists, coming onto your forearms in a forearm plank. From forearm plank, bring your right wrist towards your left elbow and start to shift your body weight onto your right side and forearm (forearm parallel to the top edge of your mat), bringing your feet together at the back of the mat, so your ankles and thighs are touching. Opposite hand will reach towards the sky/ceiling. From side forearm plank, keep your hips lifted, engage your side core, and start to scoop and thread your top arm through the opening under your left armpit. Inhale to open back up and reach your arm to the sky, exhale to thread the needle. Repeat 10x. Reset in a high-plank position and do the opposite side. "Your jeans will thank you later!" she tells us.

Bicycle Crunches

We know the bicycle crunch is not the freshest move out there, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, Brittany explains. "Bicycle crunches are simple, to the point, and work that belly like nobody’s business!" In fact, the American Council on Exercise actually deemed the bicycle crunch the No. 1 exercise for strengthening the rectus abdominus (the abdominal muscles that make up the “six pack”) in 2001. "The slower, the better too - through each and every crunch, make sure you’re using your core to do the work, instead of momentum," she advises. Noted!

How to do it: Start by lying on your back on your mat, bend your knees, feet flat on the mat and press your lower back into the mat, while engaging your low belly. Bring your fingertips to your ears with elbows wide and stack your knees over your hips, with shins parallel to the floor. Start to straighten your left leg out in front of you to a hover, while you lift your chest and crunch your left elbow to your right knee. Return to center, with both knees bent and elbows wide. Repeat on the other side by straightening your right leg out and crunching your right elbow to left knee. Keep knees stacked over hips, not letting your knee go past your belly button, and making the elbow-to-knee or -thigh connection with each crunch in order to achieve the maximum belly-trimming benefit of this exercise! Return to center. Repeat bicycle crunch (each side) for one minute, rest and repeat again for one minute. "If you want to kick it up even more, you have the option to double tap the knee on each crunch--yes, it is possible to make bicycle crunches even harder!" she says.

High Boat Pose

High Boat pose takes an extreme amount of strength in our abs. By holding this power pose for intervals or counts of 30 seconds, this is an intense exercise that strengthens the abdominals and deep core muscles and eventually a very toned belly!

How to do it: To enter a high boat pose, come to a seat first on your mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat in front of you. Palms may come behind you to start, with your fingers facing towards you on the mat. Lean back slightly to begin to balance on your tailbone, keeping your spine long and on an angle with your mat, and start to lift both legs up, bringing the legs into a 90-degree angle with your upper body. Arms reach out in front of you, towards the sky, or behind your legs to modify. Engage lower core muscles, belly button to spine. Hold High Boat for 30 seconds, take a brief rest and Repeat 5x. "Don’t forget to play a good song and smile," Brittany adds. So important!

Author: Justine Schwartz

Editorial Director

Justine Schwartz is a veteran women's lifestyle editor; she's written extensively about style & beauty tips, health advice and wedding planning for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, Huffington Post and New York Weddings. Justine has been with SheFinds since 2010; you can reach her via email at

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