4 Yoga Poses For Core Strength
4 Yoga Poses For Core Strength
Contrary to popular belief, yoga isn't "just a good stretch" ... unless you find yourself in a restorative yoga class, or intentionally choose for it to be a slower more stretch focused flow! ;)
The particular style of yoga that I practice and teach is called Vinyasa Yoga; everything from balance, stamina, strength, flexibility, focus, to core strength is touched upon singularly, or collectively throughout the various sequences and postures in this style of yoga.
Having a strong core is more than just having rock hard abs; your core is quite literally the center of your body, and a strong center will essentially provide your entire body with more stability and better balance.
Core strength will not only help you in your yoga and fitness endevours, but will also improve your posture, help you avoid injuries in your day to day activities, and will truly allow the rest of your muscles/body to work in a much more effiecnet and balanced way!
Okay, so I think my point is clear...
CORE CORE CORE!! It's so important!
Try adding in these 4 simple yoga inspired moves to build your core strength! These movements can easily be added into your regular workout, a yoga flow, or you can do them on their own, in succession and repeatedly, like a little core strength drill! If you're going to do them as a core strength drill here are a few ideas of how to structure it:
Example A) Do each move for 30 seconds // Repeat circuit 3-5 times
Example B) Do each move 10 times // Repeat circuit 3-5 times
You can really tailor this to meet your own needs, these are just examples of how I structure my own strength drills. You can always adjust the amount of times you do the move/repeat the circuit/length of time spent on each move depending on your body and level!
Below each pose you'll find detailed instructional points, as well as options to make each pose more challenging, but also please remember to ALWAYS engage your core while performing these postures! How do you engage your core? Actively pull your belly button back towards your spine!
#1: Sunbird Pose // Elbow to Knee
- Begin on your hands and knees in table top position, hands/wrists under shoulders, knees under hips, arms straight, and fingers spread wide
- On an inhale extend your right leg and foot straight behind you, your leg should be in line with your hips, flex the foot, toes pointing down towards the mat
- If you want a little more: with the right leg still extended, inhale and extend the left arm out in front of you, fingers spread wide, palm facing inwards, like you're going to shake someones hand
*you now should have the right leg and left arm lifted off of the mat
- If you're feeling stable there and want a little more: Inhale extend the lifted limbs out a little more, and as you exhale round thoruhg the upper back and bring the elbow and knee together. Inhale extend, exhale elbow to knee; repeat on the other side!
#2: Forearm Plank
- Lower down from plank pose to the forearms stacking elbows directly under the wrists
- Hand placement is based on your personal preference: they can either be flat on the mat, interlaced, or in prayer like I am doing in the photo above
- Your hips should be in line with your shoulders and legs
- Draw the lower belly up and in. Focus on engaging the core, legs, and pushing the ground away from you by pressing your forarms firmly into the mat
- Lengthen the tail bone towards the heels
- Keep the neck long and gaze directly between the hands
- Press into the space in between your shoulder blades to keep your chest from caving towards the ground/dumping into your shoulders
- If you want a little more: SLOWLY rock forward and back
- If you want a little more: try lifting each foot an inch off the ground, holding for a breath, lowering, and swtiching sides
#3: Vasisthasana // Side Plank
- Beginning in plank pose; step the feet together at the back of the mat
- Spin to the outside edge of one foot and stack the other foot directly on top of it
- Hand should be placed directly under your shoulder, fingers spread wide and gripping the mat for stability
- Feet are flexed and stacked
- Stack the hips
- Draw the front rips down and pull the belly towards the spine
- Press into the hand and flexed feet to life the hips higher
- This pose can be modifed by bringing the top foot in front of you. You can also come onto your forearm if you experience any wrist pain
- If you want a little more: life the top leg
- Top arm can be extended like I am doing in the photo, or you can place it on the hip
#4: Navasana // Boat Pose
- Begin in Dandasana (seated with legs extended in front of you) and root the sits bones to the floor
- Lean slightly back keeping the spine straight while lifting the legs into a V shape; you can also modify this pose and keep the legs bent at the knees with the shins parallel to the ground, or toes pointed on the mat
- Extend both arms forward with the palms facing up or towards one another
- Draw the shoulder blades down the back, gaze is straight ahead
- If you want a little more: try lowering into Ardha Navasana on an exhale (pictured below) hovering above the ground, as you inhale lift back up to Navasana, and repeat!
- After repeating Navasana to Ardha Navasana, I like to stay in Ardha Navasana and bring one knee in, hold, then switch (like in the last photo!) and repeat!
Yay for building core strength! As always, if you have any questions feel free to leave me a comment! I'm happy to help! You can also check out my Instagram @shaylaquinn for more yoga + fitness tips :)