You’ve probably heard of the term “core strength” many times before, though do you know exactly what that is, and why the term has exploded in usage and popularity within the fitness community? The benefits of a strong core cannot be overstated, though before we get into all of that, let’s start at the very top- what your “core” actually is first.
Your body’s core basically consists of the midsection of your body, from the abdominal area to the side muscles (called the obliques). Together these muscles serve as the trunk that stabilizes your body, with which without we’d be flapping around like a fish out of a pond.
Strengthening your core yields many layers of benefits, from a more attractive posture to the ability to perform every day tasks easier. A strong core also makes you less prone to injuries while alleviating many types of ailments such as chronic back pain. As such, a strong core shouldn’t just be the goal of fitness buffs, but anyone who thrives for a stronger, healthier body.
6 Yoga Poses that Build Your Core
Yoga is a great way to build core strength, as it’s accessible to anyone from home, and is gentle enough to perform even if you’re not in tip top physical shape. All you need is a yoga mat and a few minutes daily to get started engaging and building up your core.
The following are 6 popular yoga poses that specifically target your core.
1- Four-Limbed Staff Pose
Go down onto all fours. Push your body up, positioning your shoulders over your hands. Straighten legs as you support your them with your toes, heels pushed back. You are in a typical push-up position. Feet should be hip-width apart. Exhale as you bend your elbows 90 degrees behind you so they are touching the sides of your body. Your body should be parallel to the ground. Tuck chin in so head and neck are aligned with your torso. Try to hold the post for 10-30 seconds. To release, gently lower your body to rest on the ground.
2- Dolphin Plank Pose
One of the most popular core-building exercises in yoga. Begin on all fours. Press inner forearms and elbows against floor. Firm shoulder blades against your back as you press. Spread collarbones away from the sternum. Press front thighs toward ceiling. Lift base of skull away from the back of the neck, looking straight or down. Stay in the position for up to a minute and release knees to the floor.
3- Cow Pose
Start on hands and knees. Center head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor. Breathing out, lifts sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling. Let your stomach sink towards the floor while you keep looking forward. Breathing out, come back to tabletop position on your hands and knees. You can repeat this up to 10 times.
4- Scale Pose
Start off sitting cross-legged where your feet are placed resting on the opposing thighs. Place palms on floor beside hips. Push hands against the floor, contract abdominal muscles, and lift legs and buttocks off the floor. Hold for up to 15 seconds. Lower the legs and buttocks, breathing out, change the cross of legs and repeat.
5- Dolphin Pose
Go down on your hands and knees. Set knees below hips and forearms on the floor with shoulders directly above wrists. Press palms together and forearms into the floor. Exhale and lift knees away from floor. Keeping them slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen tailbone away from the back of your pelvis. Lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, drawing the inner legs up into the groin. Firm shoulder blades against your back, widen them away from the spine and draw them toward the tailbone. Continue to lengthen your tailbone away from the pelvis. Lifting the top of your sternum away from the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute, then release knees to floor, breathing out.
6- Boat Pose
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Feet to be flat on the floor. Bring feet up close to the chest while pressing lower back toward the floor. Keep hands above the knees, while shoulders and arms should be relaxed. Exhale, relax head, neck, and spine to the ground. Release hips so that knees move closer to the chest. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Building Your Core While sitting
Apart from certain exercise routines, you can ensure proper sitting posture and engage your core even when you’re seated, by using ergonomically designed chairs called kneeling chairs. These chairs have you seated in a kneeling position that forces you to use your core to stay on the chair, all the while opening up your hips and naturally aligning your spine to the proper curvature.
Check out ErgonomicTrends.com for a good list of kneeling chairs.
Your body’s core can be likened to the trunk of a tree- when you think of it that way, its importance is easy to grasp. A strong core keeps your body stabilized regardless of what you do, helps you maintain an upright posture, and protects you for back injuries. The above yoga poses when practiced regularly can have a positive impact in enhancing your core. Start today and begin building up your body from the core side out!