When we bring our attention to building strength in the core, we focus on moving from the “center” of our body. Yoga encourages us to bring our focus “inward” and to move with mindfulness and intention, rather than reacting from impulse. Conscious movement from the center of our body, encourages us to be more aware of each and every movement, sensation and feeling that we experience.
As a preparatory warm-up for core strength exercise: Draw the knees into the chest, Apanasana, to warm up the spine and release tension in the low-back. Rock from side-to-side. Draw 3-5 circles to the right with the knees and then to the left.
Core strength, hip lifts: Extend the legs up towards the ceiling. Point the toes. Press the low-back down into the ground. Bring the palms to the sides or option to bring the palms facing downward under the buttocks for extra support for the low-back.
Take an inhale breath. On an exhale breath, lift the hips and pelvis up towards the ceiling. Repeat this lifting and lowering action, moving up and down with the hips for 10-15 repetitions. Create slow and mindful movements. Focus your attention of the pelvic floor. Lift the pelvic floor up and in. Keep pressing the low-back into the ground. Option to take another set of 10-15 repetitions.
Take a break in-between exercises. Bring the soles of the feet to touch and butterfly the knees open wide, Supta Baddha Konasana. Allow the low-back and core to rest. Bring one palm to belly and one palm to the chest. Notice the breath moving in and out of the body. Allow the breath to calm.
Core strength, alternate lifts towards opposing foot: Extend the legs up towards the ceiling. Option to bend the knees if any pain in the low-back. Option to bring the soles of the feet to rest on a wall for more support.
If legs are extended towards the ceiling, point the toes to engage and activate the entire leg. Press the low-back down into the ground. Lift the torso, including the shoulder-blades off of the ground in a smooth and controlled motion. Reach for the opposite foot or if knees are bent, reach towards the ceiling.
Keep the shoulder-blades and chest lifted off of the ground as you reach the right hand for the left foot and the left hand to the right foot. If knees are bent, reach the right hand towards the left and left hand towards the right, creating an imaginary “X” in the air. Count right and then left reach, as one movement. Take 10-15 repetitions. Option to take a second set of repetitions.
Do these core strengthening exercises to strengthen the rectus abdominus, or the six-pack abdominals and the oblique muscles (encouraged by the reaching across action). Take a moment to rest in Supta Baddha Konasana or Apanasana. Allow the breath to come back to a natural state. Notice how you feel. Build confidence, strength and inner awareness by focusing and strengthening the core muscles. Transition the idea of moving with confidence, intent and mindfulness throughout your day.
Check with your doctor before performing any form of exercise including yoga and breathing techniques. Always honor your body. If a posture gives you pain, gently come out.
Christi Iacono, 500 hr. cert. yoga instructor and owner of In Rhythms Yoga
Christi Iacono is a 500 hour certified yoga instructor, kids yoga instructor, and owner of In Rhythms Yoga. IRY is a small neighborhood studio in Clairemont, S.D., located in the Mount Streets. She guides adults, kids and families in the ancient tradition of yoga. Christi has experienced many positive physical and mental transformations from her daily personal practice. She is passionate about sharing her experience, inspiration, and dedication with her students. She is committed to being a life-long student and teacher of the practice. Christi carefully works with each student in order to find the variation that best serves their body. Work to find the balance of effort and ease in every posture, “sthira sukham asanam.” Yoga is accessible to all.
IRY offers regularly scheduled vinyasa and yin-based classes on, Sat., Sun. (Yin-Yoga) and Wed. mornings as well as Tues. and Thurs. evening classes.
*Christi uses Young Living Oils at the studio to enhance yoga class, meditation and in her home. Visit http://www.apothecarysociety.com/ciacono to learn more.
*Go to www.inrhythmsyoga.com to see the full yoga schedule, instructors and for private lessons.