yoga and core strength blog

Yoga & Core Strength

The vigor of a building relies on the strength of its foundation; likewise, the strength of the human body too, resides in the strength of its core muscles. Many people lay emphasis on the aesthetics of the body and heed to unnecessary body goals like six-packs.

backache relief with yoga

To put things into perspective, think of your core as a muscular pillar that stabilizes your entire body frame. It helps to stabilize the movement of your limbs in action or at rest. Movement for various body parts is initiated from the core muscles. Thus, strengthening of your core muscles will aid in enhancing your body posture, strengthen and correct your spinal alignment along with many other benefits. Core strengthening connects the body and elevates the physical strength of the body. Some of the proven benefits of having a strong core are:-

  • Improves Posture: Core strengthening exercises shape the entire torso region, front and back. It helps in aligning our limbs with internal organs. It also reduces the risk of disc herniation and vertebrae deterioration. Strengthening the lungs it also helps with our breathing, the balance achieved from stronger core helps you in standing straight and thus open up your airway to inhale and exhale deeply.
  • Relieves Back Ache: People with weak core muscles are prone to have increased risk at back injury, as they lack sufficient spine support. Core-strengthening Asanas can help reduce discomfort, improve range of motion and improve support for the spine. Research studies indicate results of reduced acute and chronic back pain.
  • Improves Balance: Along with neurological deficits, lower body weakness a weaker core is also a contributing factor when it comes to a disturbance in body balance. Studies have shown that reflexes and dynamic balance increases as core strength increases.
  • Safer Movement: Stronger core muscles help in sustaining everyday muscle moments like climbing steep flight of stairs, lifting grocery bags, picking up your children, etc. Also, other muscles are taxed less when your core strength is in place. Thus, it aids in finding your center of balance faster in times when caught off guard.

bad posture

Can you build Core strength with Yoga? How?

Having a 9 to 5 desk job along with an unhealthy lifestyle contributes to the weakening of our core muscles. Desk jobs provoke many health problems like stiff neck, bulging bellies, widening waistline, and other numerous problems.

We have listed down tips and Asanas to practice by your desk which will aid in stress relief, relaxation, core strengthening, and reduced belly fat.

Pavanmuktasana – Wind relieving pose: Pavanmuktasana benefits the digestive system by releasing unwanted gases. A gentle squeeze on the abdomen mobilizes the belly fat trimming the waistline along with it.

Inhale as you sit up with back straight and chin parallel to the ground. Now exhaling, bring your knees together and hug them to your chest. Wrap your arms around your legs, hold and compress. After lifting your feet off the ground, find your balance. Engage the lower abdominal muscles and roll your shoulders along as you avoid the rounding of your back.  Inhaling come back to a seated position.

Stretches:

Firmly sit on the edge of a straight back chair, preferably wooden (plastic is too lightweight and prone to toppling) without upholstery. A dining chair without armrest is ideal. Keep your knees a little apart, abdomen tucked in. Place your heels flat on the floor if you are a beginner or you can try to raise your heels with toes on the floor.

Pavanmuktasana steps

Variation One:

  • Sit on a chair, hips firmly fixed but yet at the edge.
  • Clasp your hands above your head, holding the head with your forearms. Keep the legs a foot apart and feet parallel to each other.
  • Inhale, tuck the abdomen in and as you exhale, in one continuous flowing movement bend down from the waist down to the right, to the left and up to the centre.
  • Repeat such in clockwise and anti-clockwise movement, twice. Check that during the entire torso flow, the head and hands move together.

Variation Two:

  • Sit on a chair, hips firmly fixed but yet at the edge.
  • Inhaling, raise both arms above the head and as you exhale, bring your hands down in a smooth sweep to touch your toes. In case you cannot touch your toes, go as far down as you can without toppling over.
  • Keep the left hand fixed on the opposite foot, inhale and as you exhale contract the abdomen, twist the torso to the right and simultaneously take the right hand up to point towards the ceiling as you look up at the raised hand.

Variation Three:

  • Stand with legs two and a half feet distance apart.
  • Place your palms on the hips as shown.
  • Tighten the hip muscles, inhaling gently bend backward.
  • Exhaling return to an upright position.

Note:- Do not practice this variation if you suffer from hypertension, cardiac ailments, and vertigo.

Hastapadasana steps

Hastapadasana- The Hands to Feet Posture:

Method of Practice:

Starting Position: Stand with feet together and hands at the side.

Steps:

  • Raise your hands up above the head as you inhale.
  • Exhaling, bring your hands down to touch the toes or grasp your ankles keeping the knees straight. Also, remember to keep the head and hands together as a unit as you bend down and rise up for the maximum benefit.
  • Suspending your breath and keeping the knees straight, try to touch the forehead to the knees. Stay in the position for six seconds with suspended breath or stay in the position breathing normally for not more than two minutes.

Posture Release:

  • Raise your hands up above your head as you inhale.
  • As you exhale, bring the hands down to the sides in a sweeping motion.

Limitations / Contraindications:

  • Hypertension, Cardiac ailments.
  • Pregnancy, Peptic ulcers, Hernia.
  • Cervical Spondylitis and Slipped disc.
  • Serious eye disorders.
  • Spinal abnormalities.

Benefits:

Physical:-

  • Extreme stretching of posterior muscles.
  • Brings suppleness to the spine.
  • Intra-abdominal compression provides good circulation and massage to the abdomen and pelvic viscera.
  • Tones the abdominal wall and reduces unnecessary fat deposited in the abdominal area.
  • Induces clavicular breathing and aids proper ventilation of uppermost part of the lungs.

Therapeutic:-

  • Beneficial effect on the back, hips and hamstring muscles.
  • Helps stimulate the urogenital, digestive, nervous and endocrine systems.
  • Aids in blood circulation to the head.

Psychological :-

  • Improves mind balance.
  • Brings in a sense of humility and gratitude.

Muscles Involved:-

  • Neck, shoulder joint, and hip flexors.
  • Wrist extensors.

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