Is Yoga A Core Workout? Can Yoga Strengthen Your Core?


It is not true that you have to live in the gym to strengthen your core and abdominal muscles; there are so many other options for targeting these muscle groups. 

For example, yoga is an excellent tool that will improve your core strength, and a yoga session can be a great core workout when done correctly. 

You may think of yoga classes as involving only fluid movements from pose to pose, as with flow yoga, or even slow and meditative, borderline passive, like with yin.

While there are yoga styles that fit this description, there are also individual yoga poses that you can practice to strengthen your core and strengthen your legs and upper body as well. 

Working your core muscles is so important. A strong core helps you balance, improves your posture and reduces back pain.

So let’s get to some key yoga poses that directly work your core.

Yoga Poses to Improve Core Strength 

Your core is one of the most valuable muscle groups in your body, as it is in use almost all the time. If you’re ready to try out some core-focused classes, sign up to our 3 Day Core Challenge.

You’ll get 3 Yoga and Pilates classes that are designed to work your core sent straight to your inbox. Sign up HERE!

You use your core without even knowing, when you move the couch, carry your groceries, carry your baby, get up from your chair and sit up. Therefore, any yoga practice will include engaging your core to a certain degree, as avoiding it is impossible. 

For example, you might not think your Warrior I pose is working your core, BUT when you intentionally draw your belly in and up and bring a rib to hip connection, well, you’ll feel those ab muscles working!

However, any yoga instructor will agree that there are some poses that are specifically designed to engage your core muscles and really provide that good burn in your abdominal muscles. 

Some of the best yoga poses to improve core strength are listed below. 

Boat Pose (or Navasana Pose)

A boat pose is a standard yoga pose that can build core strength and improve stability and mobility of the core muscles and hip flexors. 

Start the boat pose in a seated position, knees bent, feet on the Earth. Sit completely straight to lengthen your spine. 

Reach behind your thighs and slowly lean back with your knees bent. Keep leaning back until you are able to lift your tip toes off the Earth. Really draw your core in and up.

You can stay in this position or if you feel strong, lift your shins so they are parallel to the Earth. 

If you feel really strong, start to straighten your legs completely so you create a V shape with your body. You can even extend your arms out in front of you. At any time bend your knees and return to the original position.

Really squeeze your inner thighs and point your toes to keep your leg muscles activated. 

Hold the posture while taking deep breaths and focusing on your breathing while keeping your core muscles engaged; about ten to twenty steady breaths. 

Take a short break and then repeat the boat pose two more times, in the same manner you did the first time. You might also experience a similar pose in a Pilates class!

Dolphin Pose

Dolphin pose is a plank-based pose that builds core strength and stability. 


Start the dolphin pose on your hands and knees, wrists under shoulders, knees under hips. 

Slowly lower your left elbow to the floor followed by your right. Do your best to keep your arms parallel with one another. 

Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders, palms flat on the Earth.

Next, lift your knees off the floor and make sure your core is drawing in and up. Start to extend your legs so your hips move high to the sky. 

Hold the dolphin pose you just created for about 5 to 10 breaths, and then take a short break. 

Repeat the pose two more times. 

Extended Warrior Pose

Extended Warrior pose is another great core burner that is pretty fun and engaging to perform during your yoga workout. Start by standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms at your sides. 


Start in Warrior II on your left side. Bend your left knee at 90 degrees over your left ankle, making sure your shin is perpendicular to the floor. Your right leg is strong and long. Press both feet into the ground. Arms straight, horizontally at shoulder height.

Take a deep breath in and as you exhale bring your hand (left hand) to the inside of the left foot and reach your right arm over head. As an option, you can rest your left forearm on the thigh instead.

You should feel a really good burn in your abdominal muscles and a good stretch in your back and obliques. Return to the starting position and perform the pose on the other side as well. 

There are so many Yoga poses to strengthen the core

As we previously mentioned, most yoga poses directly or indirectly work the core muscles. 

Even downward facing dog, high plank, forearm plank, triangle pose and all of the balancing postures work to strengthen your core.

Inside our MerryBody App, which is our online yoga studio, you’ll notice how we focus on technique and alignment during our classes.

This focus will not only help you make your workout more effective, it will also help you create a  safe workout, a workout that you can do for years to come.

We’d recommend signing up for our 3 Day Core Challenge, it’s free! Get ready for a yoga core workout! 

Let us know how you go!

Always merrymaking,

Emma + Carla

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