When thinking of a ‘strong core’, some envision washboard abs; while that may be motivation for exercising, there are plenty of other benefits to building a strong torso.
There’s much more than having a toned tummy; our core isn’t just our exterior muscles and what they look like, but it’s our body’s powerhouse. Protecting our inner organs, it also houses the central nervous system. Daily movements like sitting, lifting, running and walking are all affected by how strong or weak our core is.
When we build a strong and stable core it helps to increase mobility and create a confident posture, while preventing injuries such as back pain.
Try these three poses to strengthen your core:
- How to Do It: Sit on the floor, knees bent, hands under knees, back straight up, shoulders drawn away from ears and back, chest lifted (Boat pose Step 1). Lift one foot at a time into a tabletop position (Boat pose Step 2), shins parallel to floor (Boat pose Step 3). For the advanced option, attempt to straighten your legs at the knees and reach toes to sky and release hands (Boat pose Step 4). To modify, place hands behind lower back on floor. Start by holding for 10 seconds and work up to 30-60 seconds.
- What to Avoid: Avoid rounding spine, particularly upper back. Try to lengthen the front of the body.
- Why it Works: Because this pose challenges balance, strengthens the abdominal muscles and also creates strong hip flexors and spine.
- How to Do It: Place palms under shoulders, keeping chest parallel to the floor, lengthen legs behind you reaching back from the heels. Spread fingers wide, pressing hands into ground as if pressing into wet sand. Zip inner thighs together, drawing naval into spine (Normal Plank – Image 1 below).
- For advanced option, lift one extremity at a time (Advanced Plank – Image 2 below). To modify, soften knees to floor. Start by holding for 10 seconds and work up to 30-60 seconds.
- What to Avoid: Avoid dropping hips low, maintain a long line from crown of head through heels. Prevent shoulder strain by spreading shoulder blades away from spine and lifting through upper back, pressing away from the ground.
- Why it Works: Tones the abdominal muscles strengthens arms, wrists, spine and thighs.
- How to Do it: From Downward-Facing Dog (Tiger Curl Step 1), inhale to extend right leg into Downward Dog Split (Tiger Curl Step 2). Exhale, shift body forward towards tips of toes on left foot and bring right knee to nose, rounding upper back, lifting navel toward spine (Tiger Curl Step 3), return to Downward Dog Split. Repeat 3-5x before switching sides. For advanced option, bring knee to either elbow, before returning to Downward Dog Split. To modify, soften opposite knee to ground for support.
- What to Avoid: Avoid drawing shoulders together when entering Downward-Facing Dog, and lift leg slowly when entering split to prevent any hip strain.
- Why it Works: Strengthens abdominal muscles while toning glutes, arms, and shoulders; opens hip flexors.
These poses are convenient to do and with no equipment necessary, you can do them anywhere! Try three rounds of each when you wake up and before going to bed, working towards maintaining a strong core.
Have fun with it, try different variations to challenge instability and increase range of motion. To learn more variations and put into practice with a full sequence, come to Urban Yoga Dubai (www.UrbanYoga.ae) located at Executive Towers in Business Bay and try a Strala Yoga class with me, let’s meet on the mat!
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It's always about the #light. The feeling you get when it warms you up on the outside? Let's get that to happen in the inside too.... meet you on the mat tomorrow for 12:30pm for #StralaStrong, and #Sunset #Strala at 5pm (this photo is from my #StralaYoga class last week!) 📷: @urbanyogadubai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #stralaeverywhere #yogaanywhere #yogaeverywhere #yogaeveryday #yogaeverydamnday #yogainspiration #yogaindubai #yogagoals #yogagirl #igyoga #fitness #workout #wanderlust #adventure #explore #Dubai #sweat #yogaclass