One of the many benefits of practising yoga on the regular is that the majority of poses you will encounter strengthen the core muscles and help you to create that strong midline we all desire. If you want a super strong core, let’s talk about why building a stable core is beneficial and the key poses you can try to improve yours.
Why is a Strong Core so Important and How Does Yoga Help?
Whether you have done one yoga class or you enjoy a daily practice, you will have heard the word core being thrown about by your teacher or fellow yogis. The fact is, core strength is integral to your day-to-day life and it not only helps to improve your posture but prevents you from getting injured when you partake in any physical activity, from a workout class to lifting heavy grocery bags.
A strong core is essential if you plan to excel at a sport but it is also paramount if you want to put lower back pain in the past or simply stay upright when sitting at your desk or walking down the street. Simply put, your core is your body’s entire support system and for that reason, you should always be working to improve it.
Yoga is one of the best activities out there if you want to focus on improving your core strength as many of the poses work the abdominals which means a plethora of core benefits but also the bonus of a tight midsection.
Yoga Poses to Boost Core Strength
Ok, so you want an indispensable core workout? Here are four poses to try:
Boat Pose - Navasana: This is perhaps the most popular pose when building core strength. For this pose, you should begin in a seated position with your legs drawn in towards your waist. Keeping your back straight and your abdominal muscles tight, lift your legs off the ground and point your toes diagonally balancing on your tailbone. Your hands should be parallel to the floor and you should aim to hold the pose for 10 seconds for maximum core benefit.
Plank Pose - Palankasana: You can use any variation of the plank pose to boost your core strength. The easiest variation is the standard downward facing plank pose where you place your hands beneath your shoulders keeping your legs straight. The key to this pose is to keep the tailbone tucked and resist lifting your bottom in the air and this will keep your lower abdominals activated throughout.
Tree Pose - Vrksasana: Any pose that involves balancing is ideal for working on your core strength. The idea is that you use your abdominals to secure the pose and maintain your balance. Begin in mountain pose before transferring your weight to your right foot bringing the left foot to rest on your right inner calf. Your hands should be in prayer position and you should inhale as you reach towards the sky. A top tip for this one is to fix your gaze on something stationary to improve your balance and help you hold the pose for longer. Ten points if you make it to a minute!
Dolphin Pose: Perhaps the most challenging of the four poses mentioned, Dolphin pose is a variation on downward dog but instead of resting on your palms, you rest on your forearms and interlace your fingers. Shift your weight forward ever so slightly so your nose comes over your thumbs and feel the burn in your torso as those abdominals are set to work. Stay in this pose for a round of 8-10 breaths.
These four poses are a superb alternative to traditional core work that involves crunches or sit ups and can help you improve your core strength in as little as ten minutes per day. Simple!