Here’s a confession: my core is my weak spot. Therefore, Tuesday’s yoga class was quite a challenge for me, as we were doing a lot of core work. Of course, I know that I have to work on this weakness in order to advance but admitting one’s flaws and approach them is not the most convenient thing to do.
Anyway, it’s about time to accept the fact that I have to improve my core strength and to deal with it. In the asana practice, core abdominal strength improves nearly every pose, offering a sense of balance and ease and some asanas – especially inverted poses like hand or head stand – are almost impossible to master without a strong core.
By the way, the core is not only important in yoga. In Pilates, where it is referred to as the “Powerhouse”, core stability is the key role in body alignment.
The Core in Yoga
Most Yogis look at the core as both a physical and an energetic space. Physically speaking, the core is the abdominal region of the body, the center of our strength and balance. On the other hand, our physical center is also linked to emotional and spiritual elements of life.
Anusara teacher Desirée Rumbaugh says:
The core is what supports us spiritually in our lives, and physically in our yoga practice. If our core is weak, the ups and downs of life are much harder to take. A strong core makes us more resilient.
Another quote, I find very interesting is from Ana Forrest, founder of the Forrest Yoga Institute in Santa Monica, California:
If we’re weak in the core, our digestive fire is weak. This can cause constipation, which then brings on “chronic exhaustion, because we’re not absorbing nutrients,” and which pollutes the blood stream and can muddy the mind, leading to unclear thinking and gloomy moods. Core work, on the other hand, “quickens the blood and gets oxygen moving” throughout the body.
Yoga Asanas for a strong core
First of all, every asana is potentially a core-strengthening exercise. Kristina, one of my yoga teacher, explained it like this: Try to really draw towards your center from every part of your body, from the periphery to the core. Imagine how you hug in from skin to muscle, muscle to bone.
This image helps me a lot to focus and to strengthen my core, no matter what pose I am doing.
Nevertheless, there are some Asanas that are perfect for working on your core:
1) Dolphin Pose
2) Plank Pose & Vasisthasana (Side Plank)
3) Salabhasana (Loctus Pose)
4) Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
5) Navasana (Boat Pose)
6) Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)