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No matter what level of practice you are in yoga, I am sure you have realized how much core strength is required. More than you may have realized!
In almost every active pose in yoga, your core should be engaged. This is not only to build strength, but helps distribute your weight evenly throughout your body and help you find balance.
That is why yoga is such an amazing practice for both your mind and body. While it helps promote a calm mind, it also completely tones and sculpts your entire body.
Building your core strength will help you balance your body weight better, and take the stress off of other body parts in certain poses.
If you want a strong core, it will take hard work and dedication, but it is completely doable!
Even if you aren’t a practicing yogi, and are looking to get started or to implement a few simple exercises to strengthen and build your core, these will definitely do the trick!
1. Boat Pose
Start in a seated position with your feet in front of you and arms to your sides. Engage your core and lean back on an angle until you really start to feel your abdominals engage.
Start to lift one leg up at a time until they are eventually both up in the air. Try to get them to a 90 degree angle, and if you can completely straighten them to form a “v” with your body. Lift your arms up straight along your sides with fingers spread wide.
Hold this for a count of ten breathes.
Challenge: On each inhale, bring your legs into your body to form a crunch, then on the exhale, lift them into the v position again. You will really feel the burn!
2. Plank Pose
Start on all fours and while engaging your core, straighten one leg at a time out behind you. Make sure your hands are directly underneath your shoulders and your back is straight. Your butt should be inline with the rest of your body.
Really engage your core and hold here for ten breaths.
Challenge: on each inhale, come down to your forearms, then back up to your hands on your exhale. This is a great chest exercise as well as core strengthener!
3.Downward Facing Dog
Start in plank position, and on your exhale push your hips up and back, pushing down on your heels
Your arms should be externally rotated and your head should be inline with your arms. Your back should be completely straight and all parts of your body should be engaged.
You will know you aren’t balancing your weight correctly if it feels like all the weight is falling on your arms. Stay here for five breaths.
Challenge: on each inhale, bring your hand to touch the opposite foot, then back to center on the exhale.
4. One Legged Bridge Pose
Bridge pose by itself is a great pose to relieve back pain, and when you pair it with a balancing pose you get a great core strength workout.
Start on your back with feet on the floor and knees bent and hands flat by your sides.
Shimmy your shoulder blades underneath you and interlace your hands under your lower back.
Engage your core and glutes and lift up on your next exhale.
When you feel you are lifting as much as you can, lift up one leg up and point it toward the ceiling.
Keep each leg lifted for five breaths and then release slowly down to regular bridge pose before gently coming down to the ground, starting with your upper back and ending with your glutes.
The video below shows you how to do a supported bridge with proper alignment. You can choose to stay supported with your hands or you can keep them on the floor as pictured above for a better core workout.
5. Bird Dog
Start on all fours, hands under shoulders and toes tucked.
On your exhale,straighten your right arm out straight in front of you as you straighten your left leg out directly behind you, foot flexed facing the floor.
Come back to center on your inhale.
Repeat on the other side, going through the sequence ten times.
Challenge: Instead of coming back to all fours on your inhale, bring your arm and leg in to curl into your core, forming a crunch, then going back into extension position.
6. Eagle Pose Crunches
Eagle crunches involve both strength and balance.
Start in standing position with arms bent forming a goal post. Wrap one arm under the other.
Take one leg and wrap it around your other leg as much as you can and squeeze. Start to sink your seat, keeping the legs twisted and lift the arms to shoulder height.
On your exhale, bring your arms into your center to form a crunch. Come back up on the inhale. Do this while maintaining balance in the pose!
Repeat ten times.
If it’s too hard to stay balanced, you can do these on the floor as well!
The simplest pose, in my opinion, of all the ones listed so far, yet so effective in building core strength.
Come to downward facing dog and lift your left or right leg high into the air, and the use your core to step it all the way through between your hands.
Make sure your foot is completely grounded and then use your core to lift your top body up into a straight position while keeping your front leg bent at a 90 degree angle if possible. Make sure the ankle is under your knee to protect it!
Bring your arms up straight up towards the ceiling.
Sink into the pose and breathe.
Stay here for five breaths then repeat with the other leg.
Challenge: After coming into high lunge, use your core to twist to the same side of your front leg with arms out straight to your sides like an airplane.
Try to build up the amount of time you hold each pose, and increase the amount of rounds you do. I suggest starting off with 2 to 3, and gradually increasing from there.
The most challenging thing about yoga is always getting on your mat.
Challenge and dedicate yourself to these poses and let us know your results or if you have any questions in the comments below!
Ally is the co-founder of GroundedPanda.com with her fiance Victor. She began practicing yoga at the beginning of her career as a Registered Nurse to cope with the physical and mental stress it put on her, and fell in love with it. Her goal is to help beginners develop a fulfilling practice without the intimidation. Besides managing this website, she loves hiking with her loving fiance and cuddling with her two silly cats.