“I can’t do yoga. I’m not flexible enough”
Stop right there. Yoga is not all about flexibility. I repeat… yoga is NOT about flexibility. In fact, if you have too much flexibility and not enough strength to balance, you could be in for some serious physical problems later down the line. Yes, a regular practice of yoga will lengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility, but it will also improve your strength and mobility.
Have you ever heard the saying ‘use it or you lose it’. Well, this is especially true when it comes to movement. Our bodies are the greatest gift we have, looking after them by moving regularly will provide benefits throughout our lifetime.
One of the most valued benefits Yoga gives us is a strong core. Contrary to popular belief, a strong core is not just about your surface abdominals (the six pack). It relates to all the muscles in the middle area of your body, including the muscles in your back and your deep core muscles, protecting one of the most important parts of our body – the spine. The spine supports our entire nervous system, sending information from your brain to the rest of your body. Therefore, keeping it supported and protected is vital for our entire wellbeing.
Great core Asana include – Navasana, Warrior III, Crow, Plank, Dolphin, Trikonasana, Form arm Plank……
Below are 5 benefits that come from building a strong core.
Proper posture is standing tall with your shoulders back and head held high. Normally, we don’t think about how we stand, and a lot of us spend time with our shoulders hunched over and our body slumped forward.
The problem here may be that our core muscles simply aren’t strong enough to hold our skeletal system in place. Through focusing on strength in the core, posture becomes easier, breathing improves and the spine is better supported. All in all leading to a healthier state of being.
Having a strong core will not only improve balance on your mat, but also throughout your life. As we age, one of the things we lose is balance; we become more prone to falling and injury. A strong core will help you move freely and comfortably through life, without losing your balance.
3.Lower Back Pain
Many of us will suffer from lower back pain at some point in our lives. Our deep abdominal muscles play a crucial role in supporting the pelvis and girdle area. If these muscles are too weak, the lower back muscles have to work extra hard to hold the spine straight, causing pain or unnecessary tension.
Strength, balancing, and mobility are all part of a good yoga practice. You will find by improving your core strength, you will be able to move deeper into each posture safely, and flow with greater ease. Even the most ‘basic’ poses like tree or mountain pose will feel stronger and more grounded.
Your focus is also tied in with your core. A strong core means a deeper focus. A deeper focus means a more productive and introspective practice. More importantly, all of this translates to your life off your mat; having the ability to increase your focus in class in turn increases your focus on your goals and dreams.
5.Fight or Flight
The state of our core is directly linked to our fight or flight response. The stronger the core, the more able we are to face our challenges head on. Our deepest core muscle, the Psoas – other wise known as the muscle of the soul – is associated with connecting us to the present moment, literally embodying our deepest urge for survival. Working on this muscle not only improves our physical health, but also positively impacts our mental health and our basic survival instincts.
How DO you find your Core Focus when you practice? Do you tune in enough to notice the stability it provides in a posture?
Big love JO & J x