Yoga Crunch Alternatives

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Yoga Crunch With a Block

Yoga Crunches With a Block
Yoga Crunches With a Block. Ann Pizer

Core strength. If you've taken a yoga class lately, you've probably heard this term mentioned, repeated, extolled. Yoga balances have always required it, but it's getting a lot of time in the spotlight. Traditional crunches isolate the abdominal muscles, but yoga crunches take a more holistic approach, requiring more muscles groups for an over all strengthening effect that will help you get into those arm balances and inversions. Incorporating exercises in which you move your legs also targets the psoas muscle. The following core exercises are inspired by sequences taught by Keith Kachtick at Dharma Yoga in Austin, who suggests doing both front to back and twisting movements for maximum effect. 

To get started, come to lie on your back with your legs at 90 degrees. If necessary, you can definitely bend your knees here. If you have a yoga block handy, place it horizontally between your flexed feet. If you don't have a block, don't worry. You can do the same movements without the block. Bring your arms overhead. 

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Yoga Crunch With a Block 2

Crunches With a Block 2
Crunches With a Block 2. Ann Pizer

On an inhalation, curl your torso up and raise your arms to reach for the block. If you don't have a block, just touch your toes.  

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Yoga Crunch With a Block 3

Crunches With a Block 3
Crunches With a Block 3. Ann Pizer

On the next exhalation, lower your arms and legs to the floor, having grabbed the block with your hands. For an added challenge, hover your feet and hands above the floor, as shown here. 

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Yoga Crunch With a Block 4

Crunches With a Block 4
Crunches With a Block 4. Ann Pizer

On your next inhalation, curl back up to replace the block between your feet. Again, touch your toes if you don't have a block. 

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Yoga Crunch With a Block 5

Crunches With a Block 5
Crunches With a Block 5. Ann Pizer

Exhale and lower arms and legs back down, this time with the block between your feet. It is perfectly ok to come all the way to the floor or you can hover.

Continue moving on the breath and passing the block back and forth between your hands and your feet. Go for 3 sets of 12 passes. If that is too much, start with 2 sets or decrease the reps to 10. If you want to make this exercise more challenging, move slowly with control.

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Yoga Twisting Crunch

Side to Side Crunch
Side to Side Crunch. Ann Pizer

The next exercise is going to incorporate some twisting to get into the oblique muscles. For this one, raise your arms over your head and bring your right leg to 90 degrees while you hover the left leg just above the floor. Bend the knee on your right leg if you need to. 

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Yoga Twisting Crunch 2

Twisting Crunch 2
Twisting Crunch 2. Ann Pizer

We're gong to move on the exhalations here since twisting is involved. So on an exhalation, curl up and reach both of your arms to the right of the right leg. Keep both legs in position with the right leg straight up and the left leg hovering. If you still have your block handy, you can hold it between your hands if you like. 

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Yoga Twisting Crunch 3

Twisting Crunch 3
Twisting Crunch 3. Ann Pizer

Inhale your arms back to center overhead. At the same time, switch the configuration of your legs so that the left is straight up and the right is hovering. 

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Yoga Twisting Crunch 4

Side to Side 4
Side to Side 4. Ann Pizer

Exhale to curl up and reach your arms to the left of your left leg, maintaining the position of your legs. Then inhale to release the upper body to center and swap your legs again. Continue going for 6 crunches to each side or a total of 12. Then rest before doing 2 more sets of 12. You can also try doing 12 reps all to one side and then swapping the legs for another 12 reps.

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Supta Baddha Konasana Crunch

Supta Baddha Konasana Crunch
Supta Baddha Konasana Crunch. Ann Pizer

To set up for the next exercise, come into supta baddha konasana. Then lift your legs off the floor while keeping the soles of your feet pressed together and your knees out to either side. Bring your arms over head. 

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Supta Baddha Konasana Crunch 2

Supta Baddha Konasana II. Ann Pizer

On an inhalation, lift your head and shoulders off the floor and reach your arms as far as you can through the space between your legs. Release back down with your next exhale. Go for 3 sets of 12, moving with your breath each time. 

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Elbow to Knee Crunch

Elbow to Knee Crunch
Elbow to Knee Crunch. Ann Pizer

One last twisting exercise to work on the obliques. To set up, lie on your back and bend both knees. Lift your legs until thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your shins are parallel to the floor. Then extend your right leg straight. The height off the leg doesn't matter too much but try to keep it off the floor if you can. Bring your hands behind your head with your fingers interlaced and elbows wide. 

On an exhale, lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Keeping your elbows wide, twist to bring your right elbow toward the left knee. It's not really about touching the elbow to the knee, so don't aim for that. Think more of moving your right shoulder in the direction of your left thigh. It won't get there, but that creates a deep abdominal twist rather than having all the movement come from the shoulders. 

Inhale and come back to center with both knees bent. You can return your head and shoulders all the way to the floor or keep them hovering. Then exhale as your extend the left leg straight and take the twist in the opposite direction. Try to keep the shin of the bent leg parallel to the floor the whole time. Go for 3 sets of 12. 

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