Having a strong core is very important. Asides from the fact that it will obviously improve your look, strong core muscles are essential for effectively carrying out a wide range of sporting and regular everyday activities. It also helps to prevent injuries, low back pain, and other associating body pains.
Today, crunches seem to be a very popular exercise for strengthening the core. If you would love to change up your routine, practicing yoga is a sure alternative to building strong core muscles.
Other benefits attached to performing crunches are that it helps to maintain an ideal body posture, and protect the spine.
Below are some yoga poses which will help you develop the core strength you desire:
1. Standing poses
A very effective kind of standing pose is the tree pose. Although it seems simple, it engages all the core muscles and helps maintain balance.
The tree pose is one-footed, and the weight can be placed on either the right foot or the left. Place your right foot on the ground, and gradually shift all your weight to your right foot so that you can move your left foot freely. Spread your toes widely for balance. Your chin should be up—parallel to the ground, and with eyes open, set your gaze on an object in front of you, or on the floor, to maintain focus and balance.
Now, lift your left leg off the ground, and slowly bend your knee to 90-degree angle. Place the sole of your left foot on the inside of your right legs, and open up your hips by pulling your left knee backward.
Then, bring your hands together in front of your chest, with your legs and feet pressed together towards the center of your body. Your spine should be lengthened by pulling your shoulders back from your ears.
Raise your hands shoulder-width apart from your head, and try to hold the pose for about 5-10 breaths, after which you can release pose slowly and gently.
2. Hovering cat
This is also very effective for strengthening the core muscles. Get down on your hands and knees—as a starting position—and extend your legs out behind, so that your toes are together and touching the floor. Then, proceed by lowering your arms so that you are resting on your forearms with your elbows bent directly under your shoulder, with your body extended and remain in this position for as long as you can. Do it repeatedly for effective results.
3. Alternate arm/leg pose
Another way to build strong core muscles is to do the alternate arm/leg pose. It provides a gentle massage to not only the core but also to the spine and abdominal organs.
Start off by positioning your hands and knees, with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Then, inhale and stretch your right arm forward along your ear whilst you extend your left leg straight back behind, with your foot lifted off the ground.
Exhale; lower your right arm and left leg down. Then, inhale and stretch your left arm alongside your ear, while you extend the right leg straight back behind you. Exhale, and lower down. Keep alternating sides, performing at least 5 reps on either side.
The above are a few major yoga poses for strengthening the core muscles. To get effective results, it’s advisable to perform these poses accurately and consistently.
image couresy: yogabasics.com, youtube.com, lovemyyoga.com.