The Core/Ab work fitness routine will always be popular no matter which era, discipline and background we come from.
Generally, most are motivated with achieving the “six pack” abs through crunches and spot training, which will only leave one with back problems, posture issues and compromising flexibility.
The deeper function of the core muscles serve to protect the spine and pelvis and provides flexibility around the torso.
These 4 Yoga Core Poses + 1 Breathing Exercise strengthen the core, focusing on activating and strengthening the Transversus Abdominis, the deepest layer within the core.
Both dynamic movements and holding of these postures promote functionality, flexibility and strengthening at the same time.
1. Tiger Pose Variations
This is great for gentle core activation. The spine and hips get a nice stretch while toning the core and working on a balance.
Inhale to extend and exhale to bring knee to nose, keeping the breath and movement as synchronized as possible.
Repeat 5 x on one side and repeat on opposite side. Rest in child pose after.
2. Plank Pose
Easiest way to fire up the core. Endurance pose like this build willpower and inner strength!
Tip: Keep hands ,elbows and shoulders in a straight line, push hands down firmly onto the ground and round the upper back, spreading the shoulder blades apart. Draw the tailbone under and push heels back to engage thighs, lifting the core towards the spine.
Take a few breaths, building up from 10 counts to more. Rest and repeat.
* Knees can be lowered to the ground if you are still building strength but still engaged in the thighs and core.
3. Boat Pose
One of my favourite poses! Not only does this strengthen the core but also the quads and back.
Tip. Bend the knee 90 degrees if back feels strained. Lengthen the spine and neck, open the chest and draw the core towards the spine.
For static hold :Hold pose and regulate breaths for (10 counts) and release. Repeat a few rounds and progressively increase counts.
For dynamic movement: Start in Half boat pose. Inhale, lower legs and back to low boat pose, Exhale, engage core and lift both knees up back towards chest into Half boat pose.
Repeat 8-10 rounds and rest.
4. Warrior 3 Pose
As strong as a warrior we can be! This is great pose to build confidence, strength and endurance. It is a Strong pose with the challenge of balancing on one leg.
The belly is the central of this pose. Fire it up and engage it towards the spine to maintain stability and sustainability.
Tip: Be sure to engage the lifted leg, pushing it back while lengthening the arms forward in full engagement to avoid floppiness.
5. Kapalbhati Pranayama ( Skull-Shining Breath)
"Kapal" means Skull and "Bhati" means Shine in Sanskrit. The skull is illuminated through this cleansing breath. It helps in keeping the brain alert. It is a detoxification and purification process for the mind and respiratory system to promote calmness of the mind. ( This is great to detox the lungs from the current Haze situation in Singapore!)
The diaphragm and abdominal muscles are directly engaged in this breathing, helping to tone the muscles.
Contraindications: Not recommended for people with severe respiratory issues, cardiac issues, hernia, spinal issues and high blood pressure.
Solar plexus Chakra
What are Chakras?
“Plexus”, is a centre, where a whole connection of nerves, arteries and veins interlace and meet.
Each Chakra controls and have a function over a each part of the body
These centres run along the spine and control all systems and functions of the body .These are subtle centres of vital energy( Prana, Qi).
There are 7 main chakras within the body.
The Solar Plexus Chakra is situated below the sternum. It is where personal power/ will power and self-identity resides in.
It's main characteristic is the Fire and energy to manifest our desires (from the Sacral chakra below). It puts mental Will to Action and where our "gut instincts" come from.
Yellow is the colour the represents this chakra.
When this chakra is Out of balance:
Under-reactivity presents low self esteem issues, fears of taking risks, lack of energy, lack of will, unworthiness etc..
On the extreme side, Over-reactivity presents arrogance, the need to control, obsession, self centredness, bullying traits etc
Physically, stomach ulcers, indigestion, chronic fatigue and low energy can manifest if its unbalanced on either spectrum. It directly affects the health of internal organs around the abdomen.
When this chakra is in Balance:
There is harmonious action within the physical, emotional and metaphysical state:
- Confidence with humility
- Able to express anger and sadness appropriately
- Able to follow “gut instincts”
- Have the sense of personal power
- Accepting responsibility
- Having a clear sense of Identity
Try this simple meditation of affirmations that empower and balance the Solar Plexus.