Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Yoga for muscle strength - Part 2 Core

Last week we looked at the importance of leg strength. Please see-'Yoga for muscle strength - Part 1 Legs'- 
This week we are looking at the importance of core strength.

Lack of core strength can lead to poor lower body posture is not only aging for your appearance but can also lead to lower back pain and even knee pain. Knee pain may occur because weak core muscle affect the positioning of the femur causing abnormal wear and tear on the knee cap. Lack of core strength can also lead to sluggish digestion which may lead constipation and less than adequate nutrition. 

Below are a few yoga poses that will help you maintain your core strength:- 

To start lie back on your mat, hands on tummy directing your breath into the area under your hands.  

'Cycling' (care neck issues!) - from lying back on the mat take your hands behind your head, fingers so that they support the point where your neck meets your spine.  Breathe in, lift your shins parallel to the floor, breathe out engage your core and curl up taking your right elbow towards your left knee as you extend your left leg.  Inhale back to start position and repeat left elbow to right knee and continue for 10 moves.  Take a rest then repeat. 

Leg raises - from lying down on the mat, inhale, exhale, draw your navel back to your spine and lift both legs towards the ceiling.  Breathe in and as you breathe out lower your legs a third of of the way, pressing your lower back into the mat.  Breathe in, breathe out and lower your legs two thirds of the way.  Breathe in, breathe out and lower with control to the mat. Repeat.  To modify do one leg at a time.  Hug your knees in and rock from side to side. Come to all 4s then to lying on your tummy with your arms extended.  

Sphinx Plank - inhale slide your elbows back under your shoulders.  Release your shoulders away from your ears and lift your chest.  Breathe in and tuck your toes, breathe out, engage your core and lift away from the mat.  Hold and breathe, drawing your navel back to your spine each time you breathe out.  When you are ready to let go, inhale drop your knees, exhale take your bottom back to your heels, reach back for your heels and rest your forehead either on the mat or on stacked fists.  When you feel ready to continue stretch your arms forward, placing your hands at shoulder width, breathe in come onto all 4s, tuck your toes, breathe out lift your hips into a Downward Facing Dog.

Core Plank - from Downward Facing Dog, breathe in stretch your right leg up and back (Three Leg Dog), breathe out, engage your core and bend your right knee as you take your right knee towards your right arm and shift your weight forward.  Hold for a breath then breathe in, take your right leg back, Three Leg Dog.  Repeat taking your knee to your left elbow then repeat taking your knee to the outside of your right arm.  Repeat 2nd side then come through Downward Facing Dog to standing in the middle of the mat.

Side Angle Variation - step your feet wide and turn the whole of the right leg to the right, toes of the left foot turning in about 45 degrees. Ladies should line up front and back heels, men front heel to back instep. Bring your hands to prayer position.  Inhale stretch your arms out at shoulder height, exhale bend your front knee.  Inhale bring your right elbow to your right thigh, exhale circle your left arm down then up by your left ear. On your next breath out, stretch both arms out to the right.  Hold for a breath or two. To come out of the pose, inhale windmill your arms up to shoulder height, straighten the front knee, exhale bring your hands to your heart, turn the feet to face forward. Repeat on the second side.

Boat  (care - if your 'boat' sinks, make sure you are not going to hit your head)-  sit with your knees bent.  Hold the back of your thighs, inhale lift your chest so that your spine is long. Keeping the length in your spine, rock back on your sit bones, breathe out lift your shins level with the floor and extend your arms forward.  To go further straighten your legs.  To come out, bend your knees, take hold of the back of your thighs, and release your feet to the floor.
To finish - lie in Savasana and gently massage your abdomen then relax.

On the wellness blog there are some Kundalina kriyas to help improve core strength. Please see 'The importance of maintaining muscle strength over 40- Part 2 Core'-

Janet x

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