How Yoga can Improve Your Core Strength & Personal Power
By: Meera Watts
Yoga was designed centuries ago to help us tap into our mental and physical strength. This is done in a variety of ways. Our deep inner core isn’t always easy to tap into. There are very few poses in workouts that get right to the core. It’s important for us to do it though. It is what wraps all of our abdominal organs together so that they stay in place. A weak core can cause hernias because it allows the organs to protrude outside of the abdominal walls. Yoga may be seen as gentle but it includes many deep core exercises that don’t impact the rest of your body.
When it comes to your personal power, yoga helps with that too. You learn a variety of skills that motivate you to nurture yourself. Nurturing yourself can mean a lot of things. You have to nurture your personal goals, the true things you want in life. Yoga and all the practices that go along with it help keep you on your path so you get more of what you want. You’re far less inclined to give up on something you care about.
Breath of Fire
Yoga includes a lot of different breathing techniques that are more powerful than you may realize. I have been practicing breath of fire daily for over a year. I don’t have back pain anymore and I attribute to the strength of my deep core muscle. It’s a diaphragm breath that takes some time to master but once you do, you’ll experience how much your core muscles are worked during this exercise. You’ll be able to more breaths as time goes on but at first, your body feels out of its comfort zone. It’s a brand new way to work on your stomach muscles. It does create a deep strength there that is necessary and because you’re just breathing into your back body and sitting there, it doesn’t bother other parts of your body like other core exercises do.
Plank Pose for Strength and Personal Power
Most people fear doing plank. It isn’t something we’ve practiced much as adults because it’s challenging. We use our own body weight to keep us hovering on our hands and feet. If we wanted to experience this kind of grueling exercise, we would have joined the army for boot camp training. It has a lot of benefits though and is often used many times in yoga. It’s an igniting pose that gives you upper and lower body strength. It’s a connection at the core so it works your core when you engage it. You’ll actually find when you engage your core, it’s easier to manage this pose. When you do regular yoga practices, you’ll quickly notice how much stronger you are in Plank Pose. This will give you a sense of self-empowerment because you’re rocking a seriously powerful pose.
Warrior Series for Empowerment
There are a few poses within the warrior series in yoga and getting into them automatically makes you feel powerful. As you pull your arms out to either side of you while stretching out your legs, you feel like you’re aiming for things you want while letting go of what you don’t want. Your whole body may shake in this pose when you first get to know it. Again, when you practice regularly, you’ll start engaging your muscles in all the right places and releasing tension. You can go deeper into the poses and start engaging your core for more stability. Our core is always available to do some hard work. When you engage it in poses like Warrior 1 or Warrior 2, you alleviate pressure from your back. Those core muscles are far stronger than your back muscles so use them whenever you can.
Mindfulness of Yoga
With many of the poses in yoga, you’re capable of engaging your core. As you go through the practice, you will become more mindful of your body. You’ll begin to engage your core, your glutes, and your hamstrings to protect other parts of the body. Through the lessons you’ll learn from your yoga teachers, you’ll begin to breathe properly too. This breathing helps you to create a more meaningful practice which will make the poses more beneficial for you. Another gift of yoga is being mindful of what you say to yourself.
The ego is constantly chattering to you about what’s happening in your life. It is often unkind and can steal away confidence and personal power. This is where mindfulness comes in. It really doesn’t matter what you’ve accomplished in your life. What you’ve done right or what you’ve done wrong. You are a part of this universe and you are equally precious as the most accomplished person here on earth. You are important, unique, and wonderful. When you shut off the little voice in your head that tries to convince you otherwise, you begin to get a sense of personal power you didn’t have before.
With a daily practice, yoga can help you feel motivated because you feel good about yourself. You will grow a strong core just from doing other poses that are always asking the core to engage. It may not feel like your traditional ab workout but in a way, it’s better. As long as you’re mindful enough to engage your core to protect other parts of your body, you’ll experience a greater strength in your abs.
All About the Author:
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali). You can take a look at her website here.