Whooo-weee! I am a tad ashamed admitting when was the last yoga-related post I wrote. Which is pretty weird considering I often practice yoga. However, if you feel like having a quick browse here they are Lower Back Stretches To Ease The Pain & Top 5 Morning Yoga Poses To Feel Energised. Today I will be taking you through yoga poses that can help you build your core strength and improve spinal health.
In yoga, every pose starts with a strong core. Whether you’re transitioning smoothly between poses, practicing balancing or trying inversions, a strong core is crucial for deepening your yoga practice. Not only that, but building your core improves other areas of your body and mind. Such as bettering your balance and coordination, improving posture, digestion, focus and building awareness.
Yoga Poses That Build Your Core Strength
HALF MOON POSE (ardha chandrasana)
How to perform:
The Half Moon Pose begins by coming into an Extended Side Angle. Place one leg in front of you, bent at 90 degrees and extend the other leg behind you with toes pointing towards the side of your mat. Take one hand to the back leg hip and reach the other hand forward. Place your fingertips about one foot in front of your front foot.
From here, rise up onto the front leg sole of the foot and lift the back leg up, flexing the foot. Make sure that the toes of your lifted leg are facing the side of the mat. Root down through all four corners of your standing foot and lift the kneecap up firming the outer hip in towards the midline. Make sure that your bottom arm fingertips are underneath your shoulder.
Gaze down and reach your top arm up towards the sky. Imagine creating one long line between the bottom hand all the way up towards the fingertips of your top hand. For an extra challenge, gaze out towards the side or even try looking all the way up to the sky and lift your bottom hand up slightly so it hovers above the floor.
- improves coordination and sense of balance
- strengthens the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, spine and ankles
- stretches the groins, hamstrings, calves, shoulders and chest
- improves digestion
BOAT POSE (navasana)
How to perform:
Start by coming to a seated position on your sitz bones and place your hands behind you (lift up onto the fingertips). Draw the belly button towards the spine and lift your chest up. Lean back just enough to come onto the very back of your sitz bones. Lift your legs up so your shins are parallel to the floor, point the toes and engage your core.
From here send the arms forward so they’re in line with your legs. This position is also called ‘Half-Boat’ so feel free to do it if the Full Boat Pose is not within your reach atm. Otherwise, straighten and lift your legs so your body is forming a “V” shape. Lift your chest, gaze up, tighten your core and hold until you’re ready to come back to seated position.
By practicing boat pose you’re strengthening your core, hip flexors and spine. Strengthening all of these areas contributes to improving and maintaining good posture. Furthermore, doing boat pose stimulates the kidneys, thyroid, prostate and intestines. It also helps with digestion and relieves stress.
HOVERING TABLE TOP (hovering bharmanasana)
How to perform:
Although this seems like a pretty easy exercise compared to the others, do NOT underestimate it. It’s really great for activating and strengthening your core. Begin by coming down to your mat on all fours. Place your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips.
Spread the fingers wide and keep a slight bend in the elbows so they don’t lock out. Gaze down but slightly ahead of your fingertips. Draw the shoulders away from the ears to create space. Pull the naval in towards the spine, curl the toes under and as you exhale lift your knees slightly up of the floor.
Make sure your spine is in a nice straight line from the crown of your head to tailbone. Stay here for a couple of deep breaths or try a fun little exhale-inhale exercise. Lower down to starting position on the exhale then back up to hover on the inhale. Repeat 15-20 times. Furthermore, if you want a bigger challenge extend the opposite arm and leg when you’re in the hovering table top. Repeat on the other side.
- strengthens the abdominal wall, wrists and arms
- improves posture
- improves focus and build awareness
WARRIOR III (virabhadrasana III)
How to perform:
For Warrior III pose come to a standing position with your feet together. Bring your hands to your heart center and look out in front of you. Find a focal point to gaze at. This will help you find balance as we move through this pose.
Begin to fold your torso forward as you reach one leg back behind you. Continue bringing your torso and the lifted leg up until they’re in one straight line and your body forms a “T” shape. Point the toes of the lifted leg and look down to find balance. Imagine there’s a pond beneath you and you’re leaning slightly forward to see your reflection. (Thank you Adriene for that wonderful tip!).
Root down through all four corners of the standing foot. Lift the kneecap to engage the quadricep and squeeze your inner thighs together to find ‘Mula Bandha’ (or Root Lock). Stay in this position with prayer hands on your chest or try reaching your arms back behind you. For more of a challenge reach your arms forward and draw your ribs in.
Warrior III pose is perfect for improving balance, posture and full-body coordination. This pose will strengthen the whole back side of your body, plus your shoulders, abdominals and ankles.
CROW POSE (bakasana)
How to perform:
To perform Bakasana or Crow Pose get down into a low squat or yogi squat. From here bring the inner arches of your feet together, lift up onto your toes and widen your knees outward. Place the fingertips of both hands in front of you for stabilisation. Breathe, plant your palms on the floor and spread your fingertips. Draw the shoulders away from the ears and the navel up towards the spine.
Push through the palms of your hands and rotate your arms slightly, so the elbows are facing towards the back of the room. Lift your booty and bring your knees close to your triceps. Aim for your knees to come into the lower tricep/upper elbow area. Shift forward, look forward (very important to gaze in front of your palms to avoid falling!) and begin bending your arms so they create a little shelf for your knees to rest on. Keep shifting forward until you transfer enough weight into your fingertips for your toes to become lighter. Just enough for you to begin lifting one foot then the other.
As you’re lifting your feet one by one to prepare yourself for the crow pose, imagine pulling your heel towards the buttocks. They don’t have to touch, it’s just the intention of doing it. Keep pulling your navel in towards the spine as you shift forward a little bit more. Now again, lift one foot close to your buttocks then the other and remember to keep the gaze in front of you the whole time.
If you feel like you need a bit more preparation for the Crow Pose this is the perfect video to follow along!
Practicing Crow strengthens your wrists, arms and abdomen while stretching your upper back and opening the hips. It also helps improve balance and core strength while deepening concentration and focus. Mastering Crow will help you build strength and confidence for other arm balances.
DISCLAIMER: The poses/exercises in this post are for information purposes only. I highly recommend you consult your doctor before starting any type of exercise, especially if you have injuries.
Guys, I’m curious have you tried any of these poses before? Also, what is your preferred way of practicing yoga? On your own, at home with guidance (follow along video perhaps) or in a studio? Tell me in the comments below.
For me, in most cases, it’s in the comfort of my own home but with guidance. The only time I do yoga on my own is when my back is really hurting and when my muscles are feeling tight. I prefer to do it on my own then because I know all the tight areas and I want to take my time.