4.Around the World Obliques
Stand with your legs wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out just a little bit, tailbone tucked. With a very light weight in your hands (5 pounds at most—or you can even hold a pillow—just to keep anchored so you don’t feel the move in your lower back) extend arms up straight above your head as far as you can. “It should really feel like a stretch,” says Stokes. Then, bend from the hips and reach your body as far as you can to the right, hips and shoulders square forward. At the last second when you can’t reach any more, rotate toward the floor. Twist your body back to face front, exhale and pull back up to center.
Make sure to keep your knees soft, don’t lock them. Do 8-10 slow and controlled reps in each direction, alternating sides.
5.Pass the Ball
These are basically bicycle crunches turned up a notch. Lie flat on the ground, abs pulled in tight to your spine and back flat on the floor. Pick your chest up, pulling the right knee into your chest and holding a ball in your left hand. Pass the ball underneath your right knee into your right hand and crunch up. “It’s almost like a figure-8,” says Stokes. Like dribbling a basketball, minus that bounce on the floor.
Rotate your legs after each pass, and make sure you’re crunching up every time. Keep your shoulder blades lifted off the ground throughout. Do for 30-45 seconds.
Lie flat on the ground, abs pulled in tight to your spine, back flat on the floor. Lift legs off the floor and into a tabletop position. Squeeze the ball between legs, engaging the inner thigh muscles and lower abs the entire time. Drop your knees over to the right—slowly—keeping abs pulled in tight and lower back flat. Exhale and pull to center, then inhale as you drop them down the other way.
“You want to keep them tucked in, knees aligned over your hips,” says Stokes. You’ll also get an awesome lower back stretch. Holding the ball tight will ensure you keep your legs together throughout the movement. Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps each side.
7.Crouching Tiger Push-Up
One of Stokes’ signature moves, the only other place you’ll see this is in one of her classes. Start in a push-up position (hands wider than shoulder-width). Do a pushup. Then, bend knees off floor, and press back into your hips so your knees are directly beneath your ribs. Your arms should be straight pressing through the shoulders—you’ll feel it in your quads and shoulders.
Then lift the hips up into a downward dog position. From there, round out your back and slowly roll your spine forward in a wave motion, starting with lower spine and ending with upper spine rolling the rest of the body flat until you are back in your starting plank position.
“Pressing back forces you to engage the low abdomen; the rolling wave is active abdominal work, and it’s also stretching your back.” Do 3 sets of 10-12 slow and controlled reps.