Build strength through the belly, side waist, glutes and back with core strengtheners for those of us who don’t have all day to hit the gym. Read more about Yoga to strengthen the core
Core strength a beautiful thing—but not for aesthetic, Instagram-worthy reasons. It’s about having the control and support to engage in whatever you like to do (run along the local trail, play tennis, build furniture) without strain or injury. It’s not about what’s on the outside, padding and all; it’s about building strength on the inside, through the belly, side waist, glutes, and back
This sequence is made up of poses that will improve your core strength.1 While doing yoga is not the best way to get a six-pack, you can expect to significantly strengthen your abdominal muscles. Strengthening your core can also help relieve back pain and improve your posture (nothing makes your belly look bigger than slouching!).
1. Start by coming onto all fours with your knees underneath your hips and your wrists underneath your shoulders.
2. Do a few Cat-Cow Stretches to warm up, arching your back on your inhalations and rounding your spine on your exhalations. Remember to keep your belly hugging in throughout both motions.
This is a fantastic way to warm up your abdomen as it targets the rectus abdominis and external obliques. Think about pulling in your abdomen as you inhale and relaxing it on the exhale.
Hands and Knees Balance
This pose is a great opportunity to fire up and strengthen the obliques and the transversus abdominis which help to stabilize you in this pose! Focus on hugging your abs in towards centre creating a corset effect.
You will stretch and strengthen your gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, biceps, triceps, and core muscles. The balance and stability challenge engage your core muscles. This pose can help you improve your body awareness and posture. It also provides a good foundation for other yoga poses that require balance and stability.
1. Return to your hands and knees with your spine in a neutral position.
2. Lift your right leg and straighten it, holding it parallel to the floor. Flex your right foot strongly.
3. When you feel stable, raise your left arm, also parallel to the floor.
Stay in Hands and Knees Balance for 5 breaths.
Repeat with the left leg and right arm raised.
Challenge Variation: If you need an extra challenge, bend the right knee and reach around your back with your left arm to hold your right ankle.
Down Dog Splits
1. Come back onto all fours. Curl your toes under and draw your hips back as you straighten your legs into Downward Facing Dog. Keep your belly hugging in towards your spine.
2. On an inhale, raise your right leg until it is roughly parallel to the floor, coming to a Down Dog Split. It’s OK to lift your leg higher if you can do so while keeping your hips squared towards the floor.
Hold for 5 breaths.
Repeat with the left leg lifted.
Challenge Variation: Slowly take your extended leg in three big clockwise circles. Follow up with three big counter-clockwise circles.
This is a terrific full core workout as it engages both the internal and external muscles of the abdomen including the obliques, transverse, and rectus abdominis. Focus on drawing the navel towards the spine.
1. Come forward into Plank Pose.
2. Remember that the distance between your hands and your feet should be the same in Plank as in Down Dog. Pay attention to the position of your hips. You don’t want your butt to stick up or sag down.
Hold for 3 to 5 breaths.
Challenge Variation: When you come forward from your Down Dog Split, keep your leg raised off the floor. Return to Down Dog Split, switch legs and then do Plank again.
Side Plank Pose – Vasisthasana
This pose will help strengthen the internal obliques and rectus abodminis which can prevent hyperextension of the spine. Think about lifting up sideways as if your torso could rise. Another superpose Yoga that strengthens the core
1. From Plank, shift your weight onto your right arm as you roll onto the outside of your right foot.
2. Keep both of your legs straight as you stack your left foot on top of the right. You can also stagger the feet one behind the other if that’s a better fit.
3. Lift your left arm up towards the ceiling and your gaze to the left fingertips, coming into Side Plank.
After 3 to 5 breaths, roll back to the centre and do the other side, resting in Downward Facing Dog between the two sides if you like.
Beginners’ Variation: If the balance is too difficult, try these supported variations.
Challenge Variation: Lift your left foot, hovering it above the right.
A good opportunity to train your core to keep you upright while balancing in this pose. Focus on pulling in the navel in while hugging your ribs towards one another to fire up your internal and external obliques as well as your rectus abdominus.
1. Come back to Downward Facing Dog and rest for five breaths.
2. Bring your right foot forward next to your right hand.
3. Bend your right knee and align it over your right ankle so that your right thigh is parallel to the floor.
4. Raise both arms up towards the ceiling, coming into a High Lunge.
Stay for 5 breaths.
(Don’t worry, we’ll do the other side in a minute.)
Beginners’ Variation: Place your hands on your hips.
Challenge Variation: On an inhale, straighten the right leg. Exhale and bend the right knee back over the ankle. Continue for five breath cycles.
Half Moon Pose – Ardha Chandrasana
This pose helps to strengthen the external and internal obliques along with the rectus abdominals, thus helping to protect the lumbar spine while allowing you to safely rotate into a balancing posture. Focus on lifting up sideways while hugging your ribs in towards your centre.1. From High Lunge, bring the left hand to your waist.2. Place your right fingertips 12-18 inches in front of your right foot and straighten your right leg as you lift your left leg parallel to the mat, coming into Ardha Chandrasana. Hold 3-5 breaths. Beginners’ Variation: Take a block under your right hand if necessary.
Chair Pose – Utkatasana
Chair pose can warm you up quickly while strengthening the rectus abdominis, external obliques and tranversus abdominis. Draw your navel in towards your spine while knitting your ribs towards one another.
1. From Ardha Chandrasana, drop the left foot down next to your right foot.
2. Bring both arms up and bend your knees, coming into Awkward Chair Pose.
Hold 5 breaths.
Eagle Pose – Garudasana
A great pose for strengthening both balance and the deeper core muscles including the internal obliques and the transverus abdominis. Knit your ribs together as if creating a corset and pull your navel back and up. Yoga strengthens the core.
1. From Awkward Chair, shift your weight into your right leg.
2. Lift the left foot off the floor, then wrap the left leg around the right. Hook your left toes on your right calf, if possible.
3. Take your arms out to the sides and wrap the left arm over the right, bringing the palms together.
Balance in Eagle Pose for 3 to 5 breaths.
4. Unwrap your arms and legs, bring your palms to the floor and hop or step back to Downward Dog.
Rest here five breaths before repeating the previous four poses on the left side.
Challenge Variation: On each exhale, bring your elbows to your knees. On each inhale, return to your starting position. Yoga strengthens core
Boat Pose – Navasana
An excellent workout for the transversus abodominis, toning the abdominal organs as you balance. Pull the navel back and up and lift through the sternum. Definitely will strengthen the core.
1. Come to sit on your mat.
2. Bring the legs straight up to a 45-degree angle, coming into Boat Pose. The torso will naturally fall back, but do not let the spine collapse.
3. Make a “V” shape with the body.
4. Bring the arms out straight in line with the shoulders.
Beginners’ Variation: Bend your knees, bringing your shins parallel to the floor. This is called Half Boat. If this is tough to maintain, you can hold on to the backs of your thighs.
Challenge Variation: Once you have established the pose, release the legs and torso simultaneously down towards the floor and hover there. Come back up into the pose like a sit-up. Do this as many times as you can. Yoga to strengthen the core
After all the poses of this sequence, it is time for you to lay down in Shavasana and rest!