5 Yoga Poses for a Strong Core
A strong core doesn’t just mean lean, sexy abs (although that can be one major benefit). Our core is the foundation of most movements we execute in exercise and every day life. Before we build the walls of a house, we lay the foundation. The same goes for building a strong, functional body - we have to strengthen the foundation (core) to create an overall efficient structure (body).
First off - what is “the core”? We hear this term all the time when talking about fitness, but a lot of people don’t know exactly what the core does or what muscles make up the core.
The core most often acts as a stabilizer or center that takes force from other impact/movement. For example - if someone throws you a 10 pound medicine ball overhead and you catch it, you have to engage your core so it will act as a stabilizer while it takes the force of the ball so your body doesn’t go flying back from the impact. More core stability equals less chance of injury and the ability to control force and build more overall strength.
The primary muscles of the core are the transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, erector spinae external and internal obliques and pelvic floor muscles. The back, and glues are also part of the minor core muscles. So basically everything except your limbs and head are considered part of the core.
It’s important to strengthen and lengthen these muscles to maintain strength, range of motion and flexibility. Here are three of my favorite yoga poses to strengthen and stretch the core:
High Plank: (strengthen) Plant your palms on the ground and step your feet back into pushup position. Stack your shoulders directly over your wrists and your heels directly over the ball mounds of your feet. Hold for 30-45 seconds.
Low Plank: (strengthen) Start in high plank position and shift your chest forward and inch or two so your wrists and elbows are in alignment. Lower your body until your elbows are bent to 90 degrees. Hold this position for 2-3 breaths.
Triangle Pose: (strengthen and lengthen) Start with your feet wider than shoulder width distance apart (think Warrior || distance). Align the arch of your back foot and the heel of your front foot. Reach your arms in opposite directions and shift your hips back. Reach your torso and front arm forward and down to the inside of your front leg. Use your core and obliques to hold your torso up rather than dumping the weight into your ribcage/hip. Hold for 2-3 breaths and repeat on the other side.
Fallen Star Pose: (strengthen) Start in Down Dog. Reach your right leg high to Three Legged Down Dog. Shift forward to high plank and bring your right knee to meet your left elbow. Straighten the right leg and reach it to the outside of your left elbow. Place your foot on the ground. Reach your left arm up to the sky and gaze over your left fingertips. Hold for 2-3 breaths and return to Down Dog. Repeat on the left side.
Upward Facing Dog: (lengthen) Start in low plank pose. Untuck your toes and place the tops of your feet on the mat. Push into your palms, straighten your arms lift your torso off the ground and reach your chest forward. Your thighs shouldn’t touch the mat. Hold for 2-3 breaths.