Inversions engage the abdominal muscles – including the obliques, the rectus abdomen and the transverse abdomens. To really engage and strengthen the core, extend your legs  into narrow and wide leg raises.

This ab exercise requires a strong Headstand. If you haven’t quite mastered this inversion, then continue to work on building the core and balance before moving forward to Headstand Crunches.

Here is a step by step guide:

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Step 1: Begin on your hands and knees. Lower your elbows to the floor and interlace your fingers.
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Step 2: Place the back of your head against your palms, and the top of your head on the mat, so your head is vertical with the floor. Once your head and forearms feel stable, straighten both legs and walk you feet toward your face as far as you can.
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Step 3: Shift your hips over your shoulders, and keep your elbows planted firmly on the mat. Lift one leg into the air.
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Step 4: Push off from your other leg and come into a Bounded Headstand, legs bent.
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Step 5: Extend both legs vertically, working your way into a Bounded Headstand.
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Step 6: Fully extend your legs into a bounded headstand, and hold for 5 breaths. Continue to engage your core, align your spine and straighten your legs in balance.
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Step 7, Exhibit A: Open your legs into a wide leg position. Balance and hold.
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Step 7, Exhibit B: Open your legs into a wide leg position. Balance and hold.
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Step 8, Exhibit A: Take a breath in, and as you exhale, slowly lower both feet toward the mat so they are parallel with the floor. Hold here for another five breaths. Inhale and then exhale to raise the legs back up into Headstand.
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Step 8, Exhibit B: Take a breath in, and as you exhale, slowly lower both feet toward the mat so they are parallel with the floor. Hold here for another five breaths. Inhale and then exhale to raise the legs back up into Headstand.
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Step 8, Exhibit C: Take a breath in, and as you exhale, slowly lower both feet toward the mat so they are parallel with the floor. Hold here for another five breaths. Inhale and then exhale to raise the legs back up into headstand.
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Step 8, Exhibit D: Take a breath in, and as you exhale, slowly lower both feet toward the mat so they are parallel with the floor. Hold here for another five breaths. Inhale and then exhale to raise the legs back up into Headstand.

If beginning this series as a new challenge, repeat at 5 times, 3 repetitions. If intermediate, repeat at 10-15 times, 3 repetitions. If advanced, 20-25 times, 3 repetitions.

Remember speed and frequency is not the key here. Instead, lower and extend slowly for a more effective core workout. After you’re finished, slowly lower both feet to the floor, release your knees to the mat and come into child’s pose. Hold for five breaths and gently sit up.

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