Most of the time, when we hear the word “core,” we think of our abdominal muscles. And those muscles certainly are a part of your core.
In yoga, when we talk about our core, it is similar to talking about the core of an apple or the inside of a tree trunk. The flesh of the apple or the bark of the tree need to be strong, yes. But it is not those that will hold the apple or the tree together.
Your core is the abdominal muscles, and all the muscles closest to your organs that hold your torso (and body) upright and keep you stable, strong, and aligned.
This is why most of our teachers here at MyYogaTeacher will incorporate poses into each class that are designed to strengthen your core. I am a firm believer in the power of your core to improve posture, breathing, spine health, and even confidence! That’s why I started the Yoga for Core and Muscle Strengthening class on MyYogaTeacher.
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Let’s look at some common yoga poses for your core that you’ll encounter in my class and many other types of yoga class!
As you can see in the picture, boat pose works upper, lower, and oblique abdominal muscles! It’s a toughie but has lots of modifications for those who aren’t ready for full fledged boat pose. What you don’t see is that boat pose also strengthens your upper and lower back, your inner thighs, and your arms!
Many of you will be familiar with plank pose from yoga and/or other forms of exercise! Plank pose is practiced a lot in yoga, particularly in the Sun Salutation series. But it’s also used as a transitional move when going from standing poses to floor poses.
I don’t know if there’s a part of your body that plank doesn’t strengthen! Clearly, your abdominal muscles will be engaged, but you’ll be squeezing almost every other muscle as well: glutes, thighs, back, and obviously your arms will be supporting a lot of your weight.
Side plank is not one you’ll encounter in every yoga session. It will be one you practice when you’re focusing on balance postures or in core yoga sessions – and maybe one you experience in a deliberately challenging yoga class.
Still. Visually, you know that plank pose works your obliques (yes, those love handles many complain about!). Internally, you’re also strengthening your arms, shoulders, inner thighs, upper and lower abdominal muscles, and your back.
Do you see the theme here? Your core comprises a lot of different muscles that support your body! Of note, you also have internal and external abdominal muscles. You even have transverse abdominal muscles.
All of these types of ab muscles work together to support your skeletal system, organs, and weight.
Don’t discount this pose as one just for your legs! Because your back foot is not planted on the ground, there is a lot of balance required for this posture. Any time we have a yoga poses that requires balance, we almost automatically engage our core. Why?
Your body knows what it needs to remain stable and upright! You just may not always be aware of it. In high lunge, you’ll want to focus on engaging your core even though your body will do a lot of that for you automatically. You can consciously engage even more to stabilize you in this posture.
Once again, you’ll be working internal and external abdominal muscles along with many other muscles!
Think this pose is mostly focused on your arms and glutes? Think again!
If you don’t have semi-strong abdominal muscles, this pose will be particularly challenging for you. In a good way!
Whether your core is strong or not, though, this yoga pose works your core in ways other poses might not. Down dog splits work the deepest of your abdominal muscles almost exclusively, the transverse abdominis.
If you are familiar with any or all of these poses, I invite you to practice them regularly to develop or maintain a really strong core! If you need more core (ha ha get it?), or you’re unfamiliar with these core yoga exercises, I’d love to have you join me in the Yoga for Core and Muscle Strengthening class at MyYogaTeacher!
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