Getting to the Core of It – Yoga core for beginners

Series

Learn how to use your core muscles to stabilize your entire body and yoga practice.

Thursdays 11-11:30am EST March 3, 10 ,17, 24. Reset and energize starting with your core. 

by Palma Manners

If you’re looking for some gentle movement to start your day, a yoga core workout might be the wake-up sequence you need. Core muscles are essential for optimal strength, spine stabilization, and graceful movement.

Whether you’re the type to hit the ground running first thing in the morning or the type to hit the snooze button instead, there are benefits to adding a gentle sequence, with a core focus, into your mix. For one thing, it helps you reset and brings up your energy.

Another big bonus: Even gentle movement can have notable effects for your core, the part of your body that helps stabilize you and perform everyday tasks from picking up heavier objects, to bending and twisting more easily. So while you might not exactly feel like powering through a sweaty workout when you’re still rubbing sleep from your eyes, moving your body with intention—focusing on form and breath— a “yoga core inspired” sequence will activate your core muscles, from your abs to your obliques to your lower back.

A “yoga core inspired” sequence not only gets your mind in the right place for the day; it also gives you all the advantages of a stronger core, such as better posture, more energy, and a higher degree of body awareness—everything from improving lower back pain to building stronger muscles and improving balance.

Why is the Core so Important?

There is a lot of emphasis on building a relationship with the core, especially in a yoga practice. This is primarily because your core muscles stabilize your entire body.

Also, your abdomen is a pretty specialized area of your body. It’s the only part of your body that receives no protection or support from your skeleton. Your abdominal muscles keep you upright, provide enough space for your organs to do their work (including improving digestion and elimination), and counteract your back muscles, in other words, your core enables your abdominal muscles to support the natural curve of your spine and, therefore, improve your posture and eliminate back pain.

Your core muscles are pivotal when it comes to posture, balance, and spinal stability. Another reason why your core is essential is that it harmonizes the movements of the upper and lower body, allowing you to carry out the different yoga poses, as well as our daily activities, with steadiness and grace.

What is the Core?

Contrary to popular belief, the core is a complex series of muscles that includes much more than your abs. Your core consists of every muscle in your body that is not part of your arms and legs. “The core is a 3-dimensional space with muscular boundaries: diaphragm (superior), abdominal and oblique muscles (anterior-lateral), paraspinal and gluteal muscles (posterior), and pelvic floor and hip girdle (inferior).” 

Almost every movement that you carry out involves your core. Your core muscles deliver the following functions:

  • They act as an isometric or dynamic stabilizer when you move your body,
  • They can initiate movement, and
  • They can transfer force from one extremity to another.

Your core has three-dimensional functionality and is movable in all three planes of motion. While many people typically only train the exterior muscles, the core also consists of the deeper muscles that, among others, include the transverse abdominals, diaphragm, pelvic floor, and multifidus.

What to expect in this 30 minute class

In this yoga core workout, not all of the moves are core specific, but they all involve some level of stabilization, which activates your core to keep your body in proper alignment. Each exercise will allow for modifications to allow the class to be personalized and “pain-free”. You’ll have a suggested number of reps and breaths for each move, but go with what feels right for you. And as always, these should be done slowly and with intention—if you find yourself moving too fast and losing the core connection, consider backing off and slowing down. Woven throughout the class will be plenty of stretches and poses to reset the body and reconnect to the breath. The objective in this gentle, mobility-based routine is to cultivate a sense of joy and appreciation as you’re moving.

Props needed: yoga mat and yoga block.

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