Yoga Core Exercises: A Strong Body and Mind Begins at the Core
Have you ever heard the term “Get to the Core of the Matter?” That’s typically the strongest point of anything; a founding principle, a core belief, a core goal. With a strong core, you build a strong foundation on which to stand, both literally and figuratively. Without a strong core, nothing else functions as well as it could, or should. The same applies to the body. Your core muscles (in mind, body and spirit) are the strength by which everything else is built. One of the best ways to strengthen your core muscles is through yoga core exercises.
The core muscles located deep inside your body perform the important functions that support your spine, align your pelvis and assist in flexing and rotating the trunk. They also aid in digestive organs. While all muscles are important for functionality, the core is probably the most important group. yoga core exercises can help stretch and tone your muscles, in addition to developing balance and strength. An exercise routine that incorporates core movements that focus on abdominal, pelvic and back muscles is the first step toward building a strong core.
This is nothing new or earth-shattering, for the practice of yoga dates back thousands of years. (What’s old is new again!) While many practice yoga for the traditional physical benefits (c’mon, let’s face it, nothing beats a “yoga butt!”) there is so much more to this practice than meets the eye. In addition to spiritual enlightenment, yoga and yoga core exercises combine breathing techniques with poses that stretch and strengthen the core, as well as other parts of the body. Two of the most common and beneficial yoga core exercises are the Bridge Pose and the Plank Pose.
In Bridge Pose, lay flat on your mat on your back and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. One of the “tricks” I use is to imagine I am pressing my belly button into my spine or into the floor. Then, raise both hands over your head and place them behind you. Lift your torso and pelvis up as high as you can, and for as long as you can. (Remember to breathe!) Then, gently lower yourself back down onto the mat. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Another great core strengthening pose is the Plank Pose. (It’s not that bad, I promise!). Your body should be face down on the mat, toes curled under. Raise yourself up onto either a. your elbows or b. a full arm’s length extension. Continue to breathe, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Keeping your abdominals tight (remember, press that belly button into your spine), buttocks contracted and in alignment with your entire body (don’t raise them up too high- otherwise you’ll end up with a “booty butt”) remain in this pose for as long as you can. (Start with 15 second increments, building up to a minute and eventually 2 minutes.)
These are two examples of powerful yoga core exercises. As always, consult your physician (especially if you suffer from back or knee pain) before you begin these exercises. It may not seem like it’s doing much at first, but guaranteed, after a few weeks, you won’t have to lay on the floor to zipper those skinny jeans, and that’s worth two minutes, don’t you think?