When people think of yoga, they often think of a calming practice that is gentle, relaxing and rejuvenating. They don’t tend to think of yoga as an awesome workout that gets you in shape. But yoga can be all of these things! Yoga is a very adaptable practice that you can make as gentle or as rigorous as you want by adapting the poses, the aspects and the intensities you incorporate into each session.
One of the amazing ways you can use yoga is to strengthen and develop your core muscles around your midsection. That's an ideal area to focus on!
How a Strong Core Boosts Your Yoga Practice
When you focus on those core muscles of your abdomen, sides and lower back, you’ll see great improvements to your yoga practice. First of all, strong core muscles give your body better balance. This will help you with all of those balance poses throughout your yoga sessions, whether you’re trying to balance on one leg, achieve an arm balance pose or keep from tipping over in Boat pose.
With your core muscles strong and activated, you’ll achieve better posture. You’ll be able to be tall and straight during Mountain pose, get into the right position during various standing poses and have a straight spine with shoulders back during seated poses.
Most of all, a strong core gives you the foundation you need to get into basically every yoga pose, achieve the proper form and hold the pose. You're less likely to hurt yourself and put extra strain on other parts of your body by boosting the core. Overall, strengthening the core helps you get the most out of your practice and take it to the next level if that's your goal.
Beyond the ways that physically strengthening your middle can improve your yoga practice, many yogis and yoga enthusiasts believe that focusing on your center can help you emotionally and spiritually. This part of the body is thought to be connected to spiritual and emotional parts of ourselves. By focusing attention on this area, you might improve the non-physical parts of your yoga practice, such as relaxation, stress-relief, perspective shifts and spiritual exploration.
Benefits Beyond the Mat
Building your core through yoga poses doesn't just help your yoga practice. The benefits extend far beyond your mat to the rest of your life, just as yoga does in general. While it's great that these exercises can help you look better around the middle and improve your confidence, they can also contribute to the health benefits of losing weight and fat -- particularly around the middle, which holds a dangerous kind of fat.
Stability in this area takes strain from your back to prevent and reduce back pain and problems, plus it can reduce injuries and pain throughout your whole body. Strength in the core makes everyday activities such as walking, sitting and reaching easier and more comfortable. Focusing on this area can promote healthy digestive and nervous systems, providing better health and well-being overall. You can even have better circulation throughout your body.
By focusing on your core area, you can also create more centered emotions and emotional strength. And this kind of practice can help you work on your path in life and your spiritual journey.
Yoga Poses for Strengthening Your Core
Many yoga poses build strength in the various muscles that make up your core. By incorporating a number of them, you can ensure that you’re working all of the different muscles and in differing ways. Try these poses to improve your core:
- Dolphin Pose or Dolphin Plank
- Warrior 1 and 3
- Four-Limbed Staff
- Cat and Cow
Just by performing a yoga session, you will end up engaging your core muscles with the many poses yoga offers. But by focusing on your core through specific poses, engaging those muscles and bringing attention to that area, you can enhance your yoga practice and improve your overall health, body and life.