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5 Power Core Poses for Yogis

How often have we gawked in envy at all those photos of fitness buffs with perfect, sculpted abs? There are at least half a dozen articles in mainstream media that give you directions on how to achieve that “yes, my abs are always on” look. However, like a lot of things in life, looks aren’t everything. Building a strong core, whether it shows through or not, is what’s really important. But why you ask?

Well, your core isn’t just responsible for the elusive lines on the front of your belly that you see on so many fitness gurus. The core muscles also are there protect and support your back in all of your daily activities, even while you walk! Weak core muscles can also be the root cause of some muscular pains in your torso. Suffering from an achy back? It is likely that a weak core, specifically the transverse abdominis muscles, quadratus lumborum muscles, and the internal and external oblique muscles, is the culprit. While saying all those muscles groups is a mouthful, the good thing is that there are plenty of poses that you can do (or are already doing!) in your next favorite yoga class.

Here 5 great poses to work on in your next yoga class, or in your home practice. For each of these poses, either hold in each pose for 30 seconds building to a minute, or move slowly between the transitions to repeat the pose 4-6 times. Also, make sure you are breathing throughout all of these poses.

  1. V-ups: hollow body to boat, and repeat

    1. Hollow body position is a great foundational pose. It is the position you want your body in for handstands, chaturangas, and plank.

    2. Start in a hollow body position. This means that your low back is pressed firmly onto the ground with the aid of your engaged lower abdominal muscles. Your legs and torso are lifted a few inches off of the ground. Inhale to lift yourself into boat pose, either with straight legs or bent. Exhale to slowly bring your torso and legs back to that original hollow body position.

  1. Plank or dolphin plank:

    1. You know that pose before the chaturanga, or low plank? Yep, that’s plank! Either on your hands or on your forearms, this pose is a great way to fire up your core. Holding plank on your hands is a great way to build a bit of arm strength as well!

    2. Key things to remember here is to think if your body as a plank of wood and not as a hammock. Do not let the lower back and hips sag down. This will actually just prove to make your back ache worse by putting more pressure on your lower back. Ouch! So, visualize the straightness of a 2x4.

  1. Side plank or forearm plank:

    1. From plank of downward facing dog, shift your weight onto the outside edge of your left foot, and stack your right foot on top of your left. Using the obliques, really press your right hip towards the ceiling. If this is too much of a challenge, line your right foot in front of your left instead of having it stacked. You can also drop that left knee to the ground and press the inside of your right foot into the ground. You’ll still get an effective core workout either way.

    2. Want to have some fun with it? Play with arm and/or leg variations! Your hands can be raised to the sky or placed at your hips, and your non-balancing leg can be raised to the sky or in tree pose.

    3. Rinse and repeat on the other side!

  1. Locust pose: This is a great one to work on the lower back muscles and the gluteals.

    1. Start by laying face down on your mat. Your face can be looking to the right or the left, and your sarms should be resting at your sides. Take a deep inhale to prep for the pose.

    2. Exhale to lift everything up. Yes, everything! That means lift your head, upper torso, arms and legs off the floor. You will now be resting on your lower ribs, belly, and front pelvis.

    3. Inhale to lower everything back onto the ground.

  1. Contralateral Bird Dog

    1. Start in tabletop position, ensuring your knees are below your hips and wrists are below your shoulders.

    2. Inhale to lift your right arm and left leg up to have them both parallel to the ground. Make sure you are still looking down at your mat. Exhale and hold here. Imagine pushing forward with your right hand and pushing the wall back with your left heel. For a challenge, crunch your right elbow and right knee in so that they kiss underneath your body.

    3. On your next exhale, bring everything to the ground. Stabilize, and inhale to repeat on the other arm and leg.

  1. Bonus move: every pose is an opportunity to work out your core! Especially great poses to keep those abdominals engaged include Warrior II, Crescent Lunge, or runner’s lunge, and any standing pose that involves balance.

The best way to really get those core muscles to pop is a winning combination of both diet and exercise. Joy Yoga is encouraging its members to be mindful of their eating habits with their very own, in house #Whole30 challenge. This is a great way to detox your body and mind, and develop clean eating habits in your own life. Next time you’re in, as the front desk for details! As anything goes with adding a new exercise routine or changing your diet, please listen to your body and ease up if any part of you feels pain or pinching. Also, consult with a physician if you have concerns about incorporating these into your daily routine.

Now it’s time to get those abdominal muscles fired up and moving! With consistent practice and mindfully using those muscles in your next yoga practice, you’ll be able to move through these essential core poses with ease in no time!

Bhakti is a Joy Yoga employee and a Joy Yoga University student in teacher training. You can catch her welcoming yogis and yoiginis into class. Looking to keep up those resolutions by coming to Joy Yoga? Check out our class schedule here!


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