The core supports the entire weight of the human body and is involved in the entire range of movements that the body is capable of performing. It comprises of the important muscle groups like the chest, back, abdomen and upper thighs that encapsulate our body’s vital organs. A tough core lessens the chances of injury, increases the body’s capacity to perform strenuous tasks and increases flexibility of the body as a whole.
In Yoga, core-strengthening does not mean bulking up around the middle of the body, rather it implies gaining lean muscle that hug the spine and areas around it. Perform these asanas to gain a strong core:
1 . Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)
Get down on all fours, let the body rest on your palms and knees. Slowly inhale and stretch the spine pushing it up towards the ceiling using your hip, shoulders and thighs. Keep the palms and knees firmly planted on the ground. Count till five and come back to the starting position while exhaling. Repeat 3-5 times depending upon your comfort levels. This technique stretches and strengthens the core, hips and shoulders and relaxes the mind and is surprisingly easy to perform.
2 . Setubandhasana (Bridge Pose)
Lie flat on the ground facing up with hands on your side and palms on the ground. Bend your legs at your knees and place your feet firmly on the ground. Slowly inhale and lift your trunk (neck to hip) by pressing your feet against the ground. Exhale and return to the starting position. Repeat 5 times. This Yoga pose strengthens the spine, neck, hip and thighs. It is also known to alleviate neck and back pain.
3 . Badhdha Konasana (Cobbler Pose)
Sit on the ground or yoga mat and keep your legs placed on the ground. Touch the soles of your feet together so that the feet rest at a straight line with your body. Keep the knees firmly planted on the ground. Inhale and bend in front trying to touch the feet with your forehead. Bend as far as you can and rest for five breaths, return to the starting position exhaling. Repeat thrice. This technique stretches the thighs and the groin muscles, it also calms the mind.
4 . Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Lie down on your belly, bend your hands and place your palms on the ground, beside your chest. Inhale and slowly push up with your hands so that the body from the navel upwards no longer touches the ground. The lower part of the body, from the hip down should stay on the ground. Slowly return to the starting position while exhaling. This pose stretches the back, strengthens the hips, opens the chest and cures back pain. Repeat five times.
5 . Salbhasana (Locust Pose)
Lie down on your belly and place your hands parallel to the body on the sides with the palms facing up. Inhale and slowly lift the left leg up while keeping it straight. Exhale and return to the starting position. Repeat 5 times on each side. Slightly advanced practitioners can try to lift both legs at one while inhaling and returning to the starting position while exhaling. This pose stretches and strengthens the spine, hips and cures back pain.
6 . Makara Adho Mukha Shavasana (Dolphin Plank)
Lie down on your belly and place your elbows under the shoulder, the palms should rest on the grounds on both sides of the head. Slowly push the body up on your elbows and toes, the rest of the body should be in the air and hold for 15 breaths. Keep the body straight and repeat thrice. Exhale and return to the starting position. This asana is extremely beneficial in strengthening the core, neck, back, abdomen, hands and shoulder.End the sequence with a relaxing Shavasana or Corpse Pose for 5-10 minutes.
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If you are suffering from any chronic health condition, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor before you take up yoga classes. So, go ahead and give these yoga poses a try to strengthen your core for a stronger and healthier you. Stay Healthy, Stay Happy!