We often approach yoga with the idea that it is for stretching and relaxation, and whilst of course that is true, when practiced in the right way, yoga can be used to build an incredible amount of strength, most notably core strength. In yoga and arguably in every aspect of life, core strength is vital as it protects the spine and enables you to stand correctly with good posture, which then leads to a whole host of amazingness such as improved confidence and reduced anxiety.
If you’re looking to bring some core specific poses into your own at home yoga practice, or even into your gym sessions, here are five things you can incorporate into your sessions to really train your entire core.
Navasana, or boat pose, is an amazing pose for not only strengthening the abdominals but it also strengthens the hip flexors and the spine.
Rise up into navasana, shins can be parallel to the ground or feel free to lengthen the legs if you can. Take a nice big inhale, as you exhale, start to straighten the legs, and lower the legs and the lower back down towards the ground, keeping the shoulder blades and the legs lifted off the ground. As you inhale rise all the way back up to boat pose. Try this 10 times and on your final move down, hold for an extra 10 seconds, then collapse onto your mat and hug your knees together!
This is an exercise I have stolen from my days as a PT and often incorporate it into my yoga classes, as it works the whole core, including the obliques. Rise up into navasana once again, this time bring the Hands together at heart centre. Take a nice big inhale, as you exhale, keeping the legs where they are, rotate your core so that your hands come down towards the right hip. As you inhale rise back up to centre, as you exhale take your hands down to the left, and inhale come back to centre. Repeat on each side 10 times
Next up try some wrist taps, if you’re looking to work on any arm balances these little core burners are super helpful. Come into a forward fold, bring the legs as straight as they will go (but never strain!), hands are planted firmly down onto the ground, your shoulders should be stacked above the wrists, and see if you can list one foot up from the ground and tap the back of your wrist with your toes, then try on the other side. Do this ten times either side. If this seems impossible don’t worry, grab a brick and place one under each hand and tap the brick instead!
DOWN DOG KNEE TO NOSE
I love including this one in classes, it always gets everyone’s cores firing up! Come into your downward facing dog, on your inhale lift the right leg, as you exhale move the shoulders forwards over the wrists and bring the knee towards the nose, inhale lift the leg. As you exhale now draw the knee toward the right armpit, inhale to lift the leg. Exhale now draw the knee towards the right elbow, inhale the leg rises, as you exhale now draw the knee towards the right wrist but keep the leg lifted! Inhale life the leg. Repeat the same with the same leg but tapping the left armpit/elbow/wrist. Then lower down the leg, take a full inhale and exhale, and repeat everything on the opposite side. I dare you to attempt this twice!
And there you have it! Try these out over the next few weeks and notice as your core strength increases.