Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Yoga for the Core

March is a month of core for me and my students - for those of you who know me well, I am not a huge core person (crunches are definitely not my thing) in the typical sense. But I do believe that a strong core is a beautiful and necessary foundation for any Yoga practice.
My students and I sweated it out to the sounds of Rusted Root, Van Morrison and Natalie Merchant while incorporating Mermaids, Dolphins, and Boats into a Vinyasa sequence. The image that comes to mind is a beautiful serene beachy class but I assure you it was a great challenge and we are all looking forward to great results by the end of the month.
What many people think of when we talk about core strength is a firm flat belly - but this is simply one muscle group of the core - rectus abdominis. But the core is comprised of spinal erectae muscles, transversus abdominis and obliques which are used in everyday actions and are engaged in nearly all Yoga poses. Uddiyana Bandha the upward abdominal lock, is used in poses from Tadasana to Utanasana to Prasarita. Even more core strength is needed to press through Chaturanga and Urdhva Mukha Svanasana and jump or float in and out of Adho Mukha Svanasana.
Having a healthy core consists of more than strength in the abdominal area, it requires flexibility and balance between the muscles that create the entire trunk of the body. Next time you come to your mat focus on your core and you will be surprised to notice how much strength you really do have and how much flexibility and balance can be increased to create even more strength in this area of your body.

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