THE BLOG
02/07/2011 10:09 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Five Minutes a Day to a Flatter Belly (Exercise 2)

As you all know by now, especially if you've been reading my posts, cortisol and stress are the number one culprits in lower belly fat. The build-up of mass in this area occurs in direct correlation to the toxins and chemical reactions involved in mitigating stress hormones. When your liver, gall bladder and kidneys are over-taxed, and your cortisol up, you will accumulate more weight in your midsection.

As mentioned last week, in my first post about getting a flatter tummy in about five minutes per day http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danielle-cavallucci/breathing-exercises-flatten-your-belly-_b_807714.html, using your breath is key to unraveling the cortisol equation.

Assuming you've been taking action and exploring the breathing exercises indicated above, let's move a little deeper into strengthening your abdominal walls with the breath and subtle movements.

Sit in a cross-legged 'easy pose'. http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/1299 Begin the deep breathing exercises discussed in last week's post, calming the mind and tuning into the body.

Feel your abdomen relax, filling it with air, then pressing the breath gently out. Imagine your belly button pressing back into your spine, in an effort to press all of the breath out of your core. Extend the abdomen fully as you draw the breath down to the base of your spine.

On an inhale, begin to roll your ribcage in a circular motion, envisioning the fulcrum point at the midpoint between naval and spine. Press your ribs forward, feeling your spine release. Press them back and release some more. Imagine a rolling pin rolling across your abdomen. Continue for several repetitions as you tune into the sensual experience of releasing your abdomen. Appreciate the movements and feelings associated with releasing this area.

Reverse directions, noticing any differences or 'stuck points' on this side. Focus on breathing and releasing while you are maintaining posture and engaged abdominal muscles.

Take it easy on yourself if you cannot do many reps at first. When done well, this exercise should tire your core fairly quickly. You should be left with a sense of what it feels like to fully engage and move your abdominal muscles in a full circle rather than simply in the crunches we typically do.

Take the feeling of movement and abdominal engagement with you through your day. Make a small effort to focus on those muscles that are often ignored. Give thanks for the way they help hold you up and move your body, allowing you to move through your day and your life.

Rejoice in being enough, in letting go of stress, in living in the now. By releasing small bits of your stress and worry, in the area that typically holds the most of it, you will be alleviating your cortisol and strengthening your core -- both key components to a better belly!

Have a fantastic week.