A beach-ready body may be all the incentive you need for building strong core muscles, but there are plenty of other important reasons to get your torso in shape. Not only does it facilitate movement, but it also houses your inner organs and central nervous system. In other words, it helps you do just about everything. Here are four reasons to keep it strong and a four yoga poses to perform to strengthen your core.
1. Help prevent injuries
2. Protect your inner organs and central nervous system
3. Banish back pain
4. Get a strong, confident posture
Side Plank Pose
Side plank strengthens the obliques, while the abdominals work to stabilize the entire body.
How to do it: Raise your left arm to reach up toward the ceiling as you shift your weight onto your right arm and the outside of your right foot. Rest your left foot on top of your right foot so that it does not touch the ground. Keeping your wrist, elbow, and shoulder in one straight line, open your chest as you look toward the ceiling. With each breath, contract your abs and breathe deeper into the posture. Hold for 30 seconds.
Floating Triangle Pose
This pose lengthens and strengthens the obliques, abdominals, and back.
How to do it: Lean your torso forward over your front leg, keeping both sides of your torso long. Rest your right hand on your shin or bring your fingertips to the ground if you can. Lean back, open your shoulders, and extend your left arm up above your shoulders into triangle. From triangle, reach your left arm over your head, palm faces down, reach your right arm under your head, palm facing up. Stay here for five long, deep breaths.
Every little (and big) muscle in your abdominals is engaged during boat or low boat pose.
How to do it: Sit on the mat with your knees bent in front of you and your feet flat on the ground. Hold your arms, palms face up, in front of you so that your hands brush the sides of your knees. Lean back so that your torso is at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Slowly, lift your feet off of the ground as you straighten your legs, forming a “V” with your body. Use your core muscles to hold you in the position, and bring your arms slightly away from your body for more balance. Hold the pose for 10 counts.
Warrior 3 Pose
Warrior III builds strength and length in your torso, abdomen, and spine while also strengthening the legs. Warrior 3 is also great for improving balance and concentration.
How to do it: Stand at the back of your mat, toes and heels touching. Draw your hands up above your head. Then spread your fingers as you reach towards the ceiling. Step forward with your right foot and swing your body into a “T” shape from the side, your torso and left leg should be parallel to the floor. Find a spot on the floor in front of you to keep your balance, and as you breath in, lift your leg a little higher. Exhale and inhale again bringing your torso up. As you stand, simultaneously reach your left foot behind you as you reach your fingertips forward. Hold for 10 counts. Then, step back and repeat on the other side.