YOGA FOCUS: core, stability, strength and awareness
By helping participants develop strong and stable cores, you will enable them to perform daily activities with more ease.
Astrong and flexible core helps us maintain alignment and gives us strength from the inside out. A strong core improves quality of life by enabling daily activities to be performed with more ease and less fatigue. Our core muscles relate directly to our overall back health. The stronger our internal muscular support system is, the more support we are able to lend to our spinal structure as we move. Back pain and injuries caused by muscular imbalances are incredibly common, and in many cases could be preventable with the use of poses and exercises used in yoga and YogaCore®, when followed by safe alignment principles.
In addition to reducing the chance of injury by improving balance and coordination, a strong and flexible core can open the pathways for your nervous system, improve circulation, increase abdominal strength, spinal flexibility and muscle endurance in the back, and improve posture.
So, how do you engage the muscles of your core and create core stability? When standing or in Mountain Pose, begin with your feet. In establishing a strong base across all four corners of your feet you gently lift your arches, activating the lower muscles of your legs. These muscles connect to your adductor (inner thigh) muscles and continue up your body through your pelvic floor muscles to your transverse abdominis (deep abdominal core muscle). By placing a block a few inches above your knees you can create a deeper awareness of how these muscles connect and work together. You can keep the block there as you move through various poses, such as chair, bridge or ab work, to deepen your proprioception or feeling of core integration.
When you practice yoga you have the opportunity to focus on core strength and stability throughout the class. As movements require you to use your own bodyweight as resistance, you learn how to stabilise your spine and engage the deep layers of your abdominals to support your body. The freestyle-based YogaCore® program focuses specifically on this engagement, with core-based poses including standing poses, back bends and floor work. YogaCore® is a great introduction for people who are apprehensive about ‘yoga’ to experience the discipline in a safe, non-judgmental and non-competitive environment, as well as a fantastic way for yoga devotees to experience more intensity and variety.
Please note: poses should only be performed after a sufficient warm up.
For this pose the pelvic floor muscles must be engaged in order to fully support the back bend. As with Mountain Pose, place a block a few inches above the knees to feel the engagement. Placing your fists along the line of your gluteus medius, soften your gluteus maximus to ensure that your transverse abdominis is the main stabiliser of this pose.
Once again, the pelvic floor muscles need to be engaged, and this can be achieved with dynamic tension of the standing leg, particularly in the lift of the arch of the foot and running the full line of the adductors. From here, isometric engagement of the obliques, rectus abdominis and erector spinae muscles will support the spine, and the entire pose. For more sensation, reach the arms forward.
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The YogaFit Fundamentals training, powered by Australian Fitness Network, is a 6-day, 15-CEC course that teaches over 75 poses, class set up and cues, yoga philosophy, and a strong anatomy base behind the safety principles of yoga. Upcoming dates: 13 to 15 February and 20 to 22 February, Sydney; and 25 February to 2 March, Melbourne. fitnessnetwork.com.au/yogafit
Lisa Greenbaum is the VP of Operations of YogaFit Training Systems, as well as an E-RYT 500, Senior Master Trainer and international presenter. She will present the session ‘YogaCore’ on 11 April at FILEX 2015.