You know core strength is important. After all, it’s why you bought (or at least considered!) that exercise ball to replace your desk chair at work.
But do you know why core strength is so important to overall health?
According Harvard Health, a strong core has far-reaching benefits. A strong core gives your whole body strength to do even the most minor daily tasks, from typing at your desk to carrying your 20-pound toddler.
Whether you’re a master yogi or more like Yogi Bear when it comes to hitting the mat, you can still use key yoga poses to strengthen your core.
Michal Duffy, a yoga teacher and practitioner in Boulder, Colorado, shares her favorite series of yoga poses for core strength. Each pose is suitable for beginners, but can be incorporated into any yoga routine, no matter your experience level.
Mountain pose is the perfect warm-up for core strengthening exercises as you’ll slowly engage the muscles in your core and perform a body scan that will bring awareness to your practice.
To do mountain pose, Duffy says:
- Start standing with your feet hip-width apart.
- Lift and spread your toes and lightly rest them back down one at a time onto the ground.
- Feel the little pockets of air underneath the wide expanse of the bottom of your feet—here you are establishing your foundation and stability.
- As you inhale, ensure you’re in a strong stance with your knees over your feet and your hips over your knees, keeping your leg muscles nice and tight.
- Drop the tailbone slightly, bringing a gentle tuck to the pelvis—this opens the low back and begins to active your core.
- Expand your breath wide through your ribs and upper lungs.
- Gently lift the back of the skull, subtly tucking your chin toward your chest to really lengthen the spine, reaching the crown of your head toward the sky.
- Bring your shoulder blades toward one another and slide them down your back, allowing the chest to open.
- Keep your arms relaxed by your sides with palms gently open, facing forward.
- Concentrate on your breath filling your body, starting at your feet and moving upward.
- Each inhale expands big and broad, each exhale empties from the top of your core to the bottom as the navel draws in toward the spine.
- Ground in mountain pose for several breaths, allowing the mind to clear as you focus on the breath and the physical sensation in your body.