As a long time coach and even longer time athlete, I feel I have a pretty good understanding about the importance of a strong core. Literally, everything is built around your core, which includes not only your abdominals, but also the muscles of your back, and (according to some sources) your hip flexors as well. Most, if not all, athletic movements rely on core strength and flexibility, and having a strong and healthy core can pave the way for a spectacular performance.
Now think about yoga. Can you think of a single asana that doesn’t involve the core in some way? Even Savasana requires small pelvic tilts and alignments before settling into a focus on the breath. If you consider the language that yoga teachers use, most instruction begins with a focus on the core, whether it’s to engage the abdominals, bend from the hips, or release tension in the spine. Clearly, core matters.
Therefore, today’s Simple Sequence will focus on just two asanas that I have found to be ideal for cultivating a strong core. Core work of some kind should be incorporated in most practice sessions. I say “most” because some sessions (think Yin or restorative practices) have intentions that don’t require focused core work (although the core will undoubtedly be used in some manner). This short sequence can be incorporated into any sequence anytime after your body has been awakened with Sun Salutations (or any similar “warming” vinyasa).
Simple Sequence: Dolphin to Dolphin-Plank (and back again)
- Starting on all fours, place your forearms on the floor, pressing the palms together. It may look as if you’re creating a triangle or pyramid with your forearms. Once your arms are established, push your hips up into the air, as if you’re doing Downward Facing Dog. Push the sitting bones up, work on drawing your heels towards the floor, and press actively with your forearms. Remain in Dolphin Pose for three to five breaths.
- Keeping your arms in the same position, move into Dolphin-Plank. Lower your hips down until your torso is parallel to the floor and your body is supported only by your toes and your forearms. Lengthen towards your heels, keep your head neutral, and feel the strength of your core. Stay here for three to five breaths.
- You can repeat the sequence three to five times, lengthening the time you stay in each pose as your core strengthens. Remember, these two poses are just a taste of core-cenrtic poses, and every pose will require some sort of attention to your torso. Every action you take in life will benefit from a strong core, so don’t shy away from poses that seem too focused on abdominals.