Dr. Robin Armstrong: Top 5 Yoga Poses for a Strong Core
Top 5 Poses for a Strong Core
By now the news has spread: a strong core is in. The ancient sages have known this for centuries; it just took us a while to catch on. Here are the top five yoga poses that can strengthen your core, help you improve your posture, avoid back pain, and enhance your yoga practice.
1 Dolphin Plank
Lying on your stomach, set up your elbows so they are stacked underneath your shoulders, forearms on the floor. Curl your toes under and lift your hips up so that you are parallel to the earth, balancing on forearms and toes for at least 30 seconds. This is an effective and safe way to strengthen your core as it maintains the natural curves of the spine. Feel free to hang out and watch T.V. like this.
2 Side Dolphin Plank
A close relative to our dolphin above, side plank is an excellent way to strengthen our side waist, without putting any unnecessary twisting load on our lower spine. Lie on your right side and stack your elbow under your shoulder, forearm on the floor. Stack your feet either one foot on top of the other, or one foot in front of the other for more balance. Lift your hips up so you are perpendicular to the floor for at least 30 seconds. Breathe. Please.
3 Dead of Natural Causes Bug
There is more to a strong core than a six pack of abs. Our core also involves our back muscles. Lying on your back, raise your arms straight up towards the sky and lift your feet off the floor, bending your hips and knees to 90 degrees. Tuck in your lower belly slightly, and begin to extend your right arm and lower your opposite leg towards the floor (that’s your left leg for those of you keeping track). Slowly return to the start and switch sides. Repeat 20 times.
4 Mula Bandha a.k.a. Pelvic Floor
When modern science catches up to us yogis it is an exciting thing. Research has shown that contracting the muscles of our pelvic floor can aid in stabilizing the Sacroiliac joint at the base of our spine – especially in women. When we use Mula Bandha, sometimes referred to as Root Lock, we gently lift and contract our pelvic floor muscles as if we are stopping the flow of urine. You can use this gentle contraction throughout your yoga practice – or your day – to strengthen your core and support your low spine.
5 Uddiyana Bandha a.k.a Transverse Abdominis
This is another case of science catching on. For the past few years the scientific community has been a buzz about the impact a strong Transverse Abdominis can have on low back stability. We just happen to contract this muscle when we draw our lower belly in and up in Uddiyana Bandha. This subtle action can create a dramatic impact on our low back stability. Not to mention acts as a natural girdle. Now there’s a quick way to look like you lost a few pounds.
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