How Does Yoga Help the Core?
In many yoga classes you will often hear the term Uddiyana Bandha used by the teacher.
What is it and why is it important?
From a yoga perspective the ‘Uddiyana Bandha’ (also known as the abdominal /upward flowing energy lock) ensures that the student focuses on engaging the core / abdominal wall – drawing the tummy button / stomach towards the spine.
Core engagement is particularly helpful in balance poses to maintain stability in the torso.
Unfortunately for some, the Uddiyana Bandha isn’t about having a six pack… maybe try some sit ups if you want that.
Why is Building Core Strength Important?
Core stability is as important in everyday life as it is for all levels of athletes. Building core stability will have the following benefits
- Enhances ability to control body position / posture more
- Improve back posture and alignment
- Can help generate greater power though the body
- Support rotational movements through the spine
Signs of a weak core may be a weak sense of balance, lower back pain and a poor posture. By improving core strength, this supports your whole body, giving you a healthy back and avoiding back pain. Find out more about how yoga helps with back pain here.
The benefits can be experienced in multiple situations
- Daily activities – from getting out of bed to going shopping
- At work – twisting, lifting, sitting at the desk, turning to speak to people
- Hobbies and sports – many which require a good range of movement and transfer of weight and balance through the core
- Improved balances means that yoga has been used to provide core exercises for skiers and runners
- Remaining injury or pain free – a stable core can help alleviate chronic lower back pain
How to Improve Core Strength with Yoga
Each of the yoga poses listed below will engage the core or Uddiyana Bandha and can offer effective exercises for core strength.. There are plenty of modifications available for either beginners or more advanced practitioners.
- Phalakasana / Plank pose – ground through the palms of the hands with arms straight, shoulder plans moving away from the spine. Push heals back and keep core engaged.
- Caturanga / reverse press up – keep elbows tucked into the side of the rib cage and lower until elbows are at 90 degrees. Aim to create a straight line from heels to hips to shoulders. You can repeat to build core and shoulder strength.
- Vasisthasana / Side plank – ground through one side – hand and foot on the mat. Push hips upwards to prevent them bowing down to the floor to engage the oblique abs. Top arm can reach upwards or to the front of the mat.
- Navasana / Boat pose – ankles and knees together as you balance on your tail / sitting bone. Knees can be bent or straight, hands either holding knees or reaching forward. Gaze towards your toes. Breathe.
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