THE CORE OF THE ISSUE
Situated in the centre of our being is the core – ‘the most essential part of anything’. This fundamental part of the body supports the spine, facilitates movement and contains the organs of the abdomen. Considering its important job to stabilise posture, there is only one bone helping it to do this job – the spine. But for very good reasons – its multilayered muscle mass facilitates forward, backwards and side mobility. If we had more bone structure around our core area we would move more like robots.
When combined with the spine the core gives us our unique upright posture. When the core is weak it can’t hold the upper body upright against gravity the spine suffers leading to back problems. Many people come to the practice of yoga as recommended by their doctor to build up their core strength to support the spine. This sequence will help to find the strength of your core by challenging strengthening poses and stability movements.
UNDERSTANDING THE CORE
The deepest layer, the transversus abdominis, are the containment sheath that wrap around the core like a corset to support the organs and assist in maintaining good posture. Next are the internal and external obliques which cross hatch diagonally along the side body and are responsible for lateral side bends and twists. The most external, and the one that gets the most attention, are the rectus abdominis, running from the bottom of the sternum to the pubis, which flex the spine and stabilise the pelvis. Finally the core is not just the front body, it also includes the quadratus lumborum and the erectors of the spine, which do the opposite and extend the spine into backbends.
EXPLORING THE CORE IN YOUR PRACTICE
The challenge with core work is to maintain a soft expansive breath while you still draw the navel towards the spine. When you are moving into a pose that is directly working the core take a deep inhale exhale into the pose to activate all the supporting muscles of the the full 360 core.
This sequence works the core strengthening. The peak pose is Ashva Sanchalanasana/Galloping Horse. This is a strengthening and challenging pose for the core and back. If you find there is too much pressure on your lower back tilt a little less forward to the point where your core can ‘have your back’
Print out the below tips, along with the sequence, and start to build a connection with your strong core:
From Virabhadrasana I or Ashta Chandrasana arms reaching high, inhale, lengthen the spine, exhale, hinge forward from the hip joint over your front leg.
Arms in line with ears, lengthen up through your spine to the tip of your crown.
Press out through your left heel to firm your back leg, hug your outer hips to the midline
Draw your navel towards your spine to protect and strengthen your back, gaze down.
Ruth Delahunty Yogaru