What is your “core” and why is it beneficial to strengthen it?
Your core goes far beyond your show muscle abs. The deeper muscles include the transverse abdominals, multifidus, diaphragm and pelvic floor. These core muscles support your spine and if not properly strengthened or abused, can lead to back pain.
Likewise, properly strengthening your core can help reduce back pain.
First, focus on overall alignment. If you’re like me and at all flexible in the spine, it’s easy to crunch in the lower back.
A Look at Alignment to Build Core Strength
Spread through your low-to-middle back and filling the entire back body with air.
Tuck the tailbone slightly as if you’re reaching it downward. Lengthen through your spine completely. Reach out through the crown of your head. Spread your lower back as you pull your lower floating ribs in and back, closer to your spine.
Core Activation through the Bandhas
Please note: Bandhas are not to be practiced while pregnant. Please consult with your doctor before trying any new vigorous practice.
Imagine an activation of the entire band of muscles that wraps around your whole center – your uddiyana bandha, or abdominal lock. Breath in and up.
“Even an old person can become young when [uddiyana bandha] is done regularly” (Hatha-Yoga-Pradipika 3.58)
Now engage your jalandhara bandha, or throat lock. Tuck your chin and lift your head in and up. Pull out through the crown of your head. Get long in your neck.
You may also engage your mula bandha, or your root lock. Imagine that you have to use the bathroom and have to hold it!
Once you have all three bandhas engaged, pull everything up and into your center line of energy. Feel the core strengthen and engage. You should feel lighter and tighter.
Imagine carrying a passed out friend vs. a friend who is actively “helping” you carry them. The passed out friend is dead weight while the alert friend will use their own muscles to lift and take a bit of the weight off your shoulders (if they’re a good friend that is). The passed out friend is like a non-engaged core while the active friend is more like an engaged core.
Core Strength Benefits
You might notice you begin to float more easily in your yoga practice. Inversions become more well aligned and easier to achieve.
I created a quick and fun yoga practice to help you identify the deep core while you build strength so you can be pain free, strong and move freely on your yoga mat!
A 20 Minute Vinyasa Yoga Class to Strengthen Your Core
Thank you for practicing beautiful yogis! Please leave a comment if you have any other requests for yoga classes, retreats or online programs.
In love & light,