A strong core can have a profound effect on our general well-being. Connecting with our core helps connect us with our inner fire, helping to burn through any limitations that may be holding us back in life. If only, we all remembered this!
Some physical benefits of having a strong core in yoga are:
- Better posture
- Reduces the risk of lower back ache
- Good balance
- Reduces the risk of injury
- Acts like a corset for the body
- Enables the ability to hold postures for longer
- Helps to prevent digestion problems
- Tones and strengthens the belly
From an emotional point of view the benefits are:
- Controls anger, resentment, bitterness, etc..
- Activates the third chakra helping us get our message across
- Tones down an over active chakra which can make one too hungry for power
- Elevates us out of victim-thinking mentality
- Helps us to be in our personal power in a balanced and loving way
- Gives us inner strength
- Helps us drive our purpose
- Helps contain the need to criticise or put people down
- Helps us to step out of the past
So with this in mind here are my top four yoga poses to help strengthen the core. Try incorporating them into your regular yoga practice.
Always warm up first and check with your doctor for suitability.
- Sivananda leg raises- back in 2004 while studying yoga in India, we had to do these twice a day as part of our practice. By the time I left the ashram, I felt so balanced and in my power.
Method: Lie on your back. Shoulders are falling softly to the ground. Relax any tension in the upper back. Raise the right leg off the ground and while maintaining the back and shoulders on the ground, reach up and grab the leg where you can ( just not the knee). Use a yoga belt if that is not possible. Take five to ten slow deep breaths then relax.
Next, round the body off the floor and hold onto the leg further up. Work at your compassionate edge remembering to extend non-violence to yourself. Take five to ten slow deep breaths then relax.
Yes, you got it you are going to raise both legs off the floor while maintaining the back and shoulders on the ground!
Advanced people can have their hands on the ground facing down at their sides. The rest of us can slide our hands underneath the lower back ( easier version) which helps to protect the back and prevent rounding.
Using the breath try raising and lowering the legs for three sets of five to ten.
On the last leg lift slowly lower for the count of ten while resisting the temptation to round the lower back off from the ground.
With time increase the number.
2. Astanga boat pose
Sit down on the floor with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lift your chest as you bring the hands to the backs of the legs behind the knees.
Bring both feet off the floor so you are balancing in a V-shape.
If you can, bring the arms out in front of you.
The next stage is to straighten the legs, but only if you can keep the integrity of the pose.
Try holding for five breaths and repeat. Make sure the chest is lifted and you are breathing slowly.
3. Kundalini Stretch Pose
This pose works the deep core muscles. The important thing is not to cheat by raising the legs too high! Try for five breaths. My cousin can hold this pose for three minutes!
Tip: Use the breath to help you hold the pose by breathing!
So begin laying down on the floor. Raise the legs no more than six inches and point the toes away from you. Gaze point is the toes. Do breath of fire or long deep breathing with arms by your side hovering off the ground. Try three sets for five breaths. Like I said my cousin can hold this pose for three minutes! He trained for a few months to enable him to do that. Build up the time gradually.
4. Hatha Cobra pose
So you have worked your abs, now it’s time to stretch and lengthen them.
Lie on your front with your forehead on the floor. Bend your elbows and place the fingertips on the ground like in the photograph above.
Leading with the heart lift the chest off the floor. Hold for five to ten breaths and repeat.
Sometimes when working the core, old emotions can come up. Let them be without attachment. Try exhaling them away. Inhale positivity and relax.
“Spirituality is not some external goal that one must seek, but a part of the divine core of each of us, which we must reveal.” ― B.K.S. Iyengar
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