Can You Get a Flat Stomach from Stretches

You have four abdominal muscles between your ribcage and pelvis. Your internal and external obliques run alongside your torso and help you twist and bend forward. Your rectus abdominis, the superficial muscle along your front, helps you bend forward and pull in your belly. The deepest muscle, your transversus abdominis, affects your posture and strengthens your core. To flatten your stomach, elongate these muscles with gentle yoga stretches recommended by the American Council on Exercise.

Warm Up
To warm up, start with the Cat/Cow pose on your hands and knees; this connects you to your breath and loosens your spine. Then, practice balance and tone your core by raising your opposite arm and leg. To keep from toppling over, draw in your belly to activate your core muscles, tuck your toes on your grounded foot and spread your toes on your lifted foot.

Side Bends
Lengthen your oblique muscles by bending from side to side. Keep your transversus abdominis engaged by drawing your navel in toward your spine for this and all other exercises. Maintain an even distribution of weight between both feet as you bend to each side. Concentrate on lifting more upward than outward so you lengthen both sides at the same time.

Plank Pose
Start in Downward-Facing Dog to get a good overall stretch in your legs, arms and spine. Bring your shoulders forward into Plank pose. Scoop your tailbone down and back, and lengthen the rest of your spine forward. Focus on relaxing your shoulders to open your chest and lifting your belly, pelvis and inner thighs. Your body may begin to shake, which means you’re working the muscles. Hold Plank for a few breaths before exhaling back into Downward-Facing Dog.

Back Bends
Cobra and Locust poses, both done while lying on your belly, lengthen your spine and all four of your abdominal muscles for a healthy stretch that strengthens your back and opens your chest. Bridge pose, done on your back with your pelvis lifted off the floor, stretches and strengthens your abdominal muscles.

The Reclining Twist strengthens and tones your abdominal muscles. Keep a neutral spine and use your breath as you move your legs from side to side.

Child's Pose
Relax in Child’s pose, as you kneel on your mat and fold your torso over your thighs, resting your arms on the mat next to your body. Child' pose stretches your abdominal muscles, massages your organs to improve circulation, and relieves stress, which can add belly fat.

Stop practicing and consult your physician if you feel unnatural pain while doing any of these stretches.