I recently discovered I could get up into handstand by raising both of my legs at the same time. I didn’t need the wall. How did this happen? I seems like not long ago I couldn’t do a handstand at all. The reason I can do it now is my core is stronger. A strong core is one of the greatest physical benefits of yoga.
How’s your core? If you’ve been practicing yoga for a while, you may be pleasantly surprised to find out how much stronger it is than you thought. Maybe last time you tried, you needed help getting into handstand. There are many benefits to having a strong core, and as we’ll see, they’re not only physical.
So how can you get there?
The Journey to a Strong Core
Do you remember the first time you did plank pose or chaturanga? My guess is, you didn’t hold that plank for more than a few seconds. If you’ve continued practicing, can you hold it longer now?
The primary goal of yoga is not physical, but it does give some amazing physical results. So, while it’s best not to focus on core strength as your goal, if you continue your practice, you will not be able to avoid it.
Yoga is designed to strengthen the core for an important reason. Your physical core is the powerhouse of your body. That’s why it’s called your core!
If your abdominal muscles are strong, you can stand taller. This is good news for your internal organs. You’ll be able to breathe better, and you’ll have more stamina. You’ll also have more confidence. It’s a side effect of standing taller. Another possibility is you’ll stand taller because of the added confidence you get from mastering the physical practice of yoga.
A strong core also gives you the ability to sit up straight with ease. And you’ll be able to stay in a seated posture longer. So, of course, you’ll have an easier time meditating. Physical discomfort won’t distract you when you sit to meditate.
So, we can see the wisdom in strengthening the core with yoga. That physical strength also improves the breath—the gateway to the mind—and the effectiveness of meditation.
Yoga Poses for a Strong Core
Now that you’re convinced a strong core is important, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well, how can you work to strengthen yours?
Here are ten yoga poses that will tone your abdominals and strengthen your core:
- boat pose
- upward-facing dog
- forearm plank
- side plank
- warrior 3
As you can see, there are foreword bends, back bends, and even a twist (triangle) on this list. If you’re not one for developing your own sequence, try the Core Strength class from the Track Yoga app (Day 6 of the Full Body Fitness program). Another option is practice sun salutations, which include many of the core moves in the basic flow that you’re probably most familiar with.
In the end, you don’t need to worry about strengthening your core. If you continue to practice, as I said, you will not be able to avoid it!