Cat Cow Pose

10 yoga postures to strengthen your core

Yoga is very popular as a means to release stress and improve mindfulness, but it can also be a good workout to strengthen your core muscles. In yoga, every asanas (posture) has been created to target and strengthen a particular part of your body. Therefore regularly practicing yoga will inevitably make you feel and look stronger and healthier. Strengthening your core is one of the key aims of yoga; below I will discuss some of the best yoga postures to strengthen your core.

Plank yoga posture
Plank

1. Plank

From all four positions, tuck your toes and push yourself up, wrist and elbow directly stacked under your shoulder. Push the earth away from you so that you puff the space between the shoulder blades, and your shoulders move far from your ears.

Your neck and spine should be parallel to the floor, creating a long line from your head to your toes. Keep the natural curve of the spine and draw the navel in towards the spine, as well as engaging the pelvic floor. Engage the gluteals slightly and tuck the tailbone to widen the shoulders.

Side plank yoga posture
Side plank – Photo by Elly Fairytale from Pexels

2. Side plank

From a plank position, pivot your weight to the right side of the body, coming onto the outer edge of the right foot. Your left foot can either be on top or in front of the right foot for more support.

Extend the left arm up, with your finger tips pointing to the ceiling. Meanwhile ensure that you engage the abdominals, draw in your front ribs, and move the tummy towards the spine.

Chaturanga dandasana yoga posture
Chaturanga dandasana

3. Chaturanga dandasana

From a plank position, inhale to shift your weight a little forward while keeping the arms close the the body. Exhale to bend the elbows and lower the torso close to the ground. The elbows should be bent at 90 degrees.

The core is engaged while you’re holding your body in a straight line from the heels, through the tail to the base of the skull. Maintain a gaze is in front of you, keeping the neck long as you push the crown of the head forwards.

Upward facing dog yoga posture
Upward facing dog

4. Upward facing dog

From a prone position, place your palms a little bit wider then your shoulders, with your finger tips pointing in front of you. Keep your elbows close to you and bent at 90 degrees.

Inhale to strengthen the arms to lift the body off the floor, keeping the top of the feet on the mat. Roll the shoulders down and back while lifting the chest upwards. Engage the core and quadriceps and distribute the weight of the body evenly.

Baby Cobra yoga posture
Baby Cobra

5. Baby cobra

From a prone lying position, place your palms directly under the shoulders, with your fingers facing forwards and your elbows hugging the torso.

Tuck in your tailbone and press the pubis to the mat. Inhale to lift the upper body off the mat, keeping your elbows slightly bent, with no pressure in the hands. Use your back muscles to lift you up.

Make sure you are facing between your hands while keeping a long neck. Slide the shoulder blades towards your bottom as you exhale, pushing the pubic bone towards the floor. The glutes remain relaxed. Inhale and exhale to lower back down.

Cobra yoga posture
Cobra

6. Cobra

From a prone lying position, place your palms directly under the shoulders, with your fingers facing forwards and your elbows hugging the torso.

Tuck in your tailbone and press the pubis to the mat. Inhale to lift the upper body off the mat and extend the arms as much as feels comfortable. Use your back muscles to lift you up.

Make sure you are facing between your hands while keeping a long neck. Slide the shoulder blades towards your bottom as you exhale, pushing the pubic bone towards the floor. The glutes remain relaxed. Inhale and exhale to lower back down.

Sphinx yoga posture
Sphinx

7. Sphinx

From a prone lying position, align the elbows with the shoulders and keep the forearms parallel, with your fingers facing forwards. Roll the shoulders back to keep the neck long.

Tuck your tailbone in and press the pubis to the mat. Inhale to lift the upper body off the mat, keeping your elbows bent to 90 degrees, with a little pressure in the forearms. Use your back muscles to lift you up.

Make sure you are facing between your hands while keeping a long neck. Slide the shoulder blades towards your bottom as you exhale, pushing the pubic bone towards the floor. The glutes remain relaxed. Inhale and exhale to lower back down.

Cat Cow yoga postures
Cat Cow

8. Cat cow

From all four positions, move your shoulders over your wrists and both hips above your knees. Spread your fingers, and keep your spine parallel to the floor with a natural curve.

Exhale to engage the pelvic floor, drawing your tummy and front ribs towards the midline, making sure you are facing between your hands.

Inhale to arch the back, then look up and exhale to round the spine again, puffing the space between the shoulder blades. Repeat a couple of times (ideally 6 times).

Bird dog yoga posture
Bird dog

9. Bird dog

From all four positions, move to a neutral spine, with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.

Inhale to prepare, and exhale to engage your core. Draw your tummy towards the spine and, while keeping your pelvic floor engaged, raise both your arm and your leg on the opposite side off the floor. Breath in and out through the nose and come back to starting position. Repeat on other side.

The shoulders and hips should remain level the whole time. The spine and pelvis shouldn’t move, but remain neutral and stable. Push the ground away with the standing hand to keep your shoulder active.

Wide legged forward fold yoga posture
Wide legged forward fold

10. Wide legged forward fold

From standing position, open the legs to 1-1.5 meter distance apart. Keep both feet pointing forwards, with your toes turned slightly inwards.

Place both hands onto your hips, inhale to lengthen the spine and the neck and exhale to hinge from the hips and fold forward bringing both hands on the floor in line with your feet, with your finger tips facing forwards.

Activate your inner thighs and encore the sole of the feet, especially the other edges of the feet. Navel is drawn towards the spine. Inhale, stay for the exhale and inhale to come.


I can help you learn all of these poses and more! Contact me to join one of my regular yoga classes.

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