HOW YOGA ENGAGES YOUR CORE
Yoga is one of the best exercises for strengthening your core muscles. While the poses seem deceptively slow and simple, they all engage the abdominal region and develop balance, strength and (through the years) washboard abs.
This is especially true for the more advanced yoga poses that require lifting the legs, such as the Sirsasana (Headstand), AdhoMukhaVrksasana (Handstand), and Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand) gives abs a serious workout. Even standing poses like the Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) and Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II) will engage the obliques.
BENEFITS OF ENGAGING YOUR CORE MUSCLES
Aside from having a bikini-worthy belly, strengthening your core muscles will improve your posture, relieve back pain, and improve digestion. On a spiritual level, the core muscles correspond to the third chakra and your creative energy.
- PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR MUSCLES.
It’s important to pay attention to your posture and engage all muscles when you do your yoga poses. Just “going through the motions” won’t condition your core area.
For example, when you do Roll downs or Star Gazing poses, be sure to tuck in your tailbone and abdomen. When you raise your shoulders and stretch the spine, also engage your rectus abdominus.
- CHALLENGE YOUR MUSCLES
Just like people who lift weights will move up to heavier dumb bells, try to increase the difficulty of your yoga poses. After perfecting the plank, make it harder by elevating your feet on a stability ball. There are many yoga moves that you can do with the ball, which will force you to engage your muscles to maintain your balance.
- INCORPORATE TWISTS
Adding a “twist” to your yoga workout – and we mean literally twisting your torso – strengthens your obliques and let you stretch your back muscles. This is great for losing the love handles and relieving backaches.
- DON’T FORGET TO WARM UP
Start your yoga session (or any exercise routine!) with core conditioning. Even just five minutes of simple abdominal exercises will bring up your body heat and get you ready for your workout.
While there are a lot of core exercises to pick from, a good guideline is to start with those that engage your inner thighs and pelvic floor and then move up. Even saying “Ha!” as you exhale with enough force to fog up a mirror if you were standing in front of one will engage your transversus abdominis.
- SAY “SQUEEZE”!
To take your ab conditioning to the next level, squeeze a ball or yoga block between your thighs. This engages both the leg and the abdominal muscles even more as you go through different moves.
These are just some ways yoga works your core. Try different kinds of yoga routines so your muscles are engaged in different ways (and you also don’t get bored!), don’t give up and always challenge yourself, and you’ll soon see a difference in the way you look and how you feel.