Yoga Exercises for Core MusclesBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Hatha Yoga exercises for core muscles develop a stable and strong core, help prevent injuries, alleviate back pain, and significantly improve the posture. Yoga provides several exercises to develop a strong core. The core muscles extend from the diaphragm and abdominal muscles to the pelvic floor. The powerhouse of the body includes your back, buttocks, and core.

The majority of Yoga poses engage the core, and many of them are designed to strengthen the core. The benefits to your posture are immeasurable. Many people are attracted to Yoga for different reasons. However, many people enjoy Yoga because developing good posture actually makes a person look younger. Poor posture is one of the most visible signs of aging.

If you want to focus on developing a strong core, you will want to incorporate the following Yoga poses (asanas) into your regular practice.

Boat Pose

While sitting on the floor, pull your knees to your chest and lean back. Stretch your arms forward while you extend your legs to a 45-degree angle. The palms of your hands should be just outside of the knee. Hold this position for at least 10 breaths.

Modified Boat Variations

There are many variations of this posture.  If you find this asana too difficult, lower your legs, and try extending one leg at a time, instead of extending both. There is also the option to bend both knees, or hold onto your upper legs above the knees, with both hands.  With time, patience, and practice, your core muscles will become noticeably stronger.

Bridge Pose

Lie with your back flat on the floor, elevate your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor. Make sure your knees are hip-width apart. Raise your stomach and pelvis toward the ceiling, while clasping your hands together beneath your raised back. For greater leverage, press your arms downward to increase the lift of your torso. Hold the position for a few breaths, and then slowly lower your back and pelvis to the ground. There is an option to leave the hands and arms at your sides, or to clasp your hands around your ankles, while practicing this posture.

Cobra Pose

Lie flat on your stomach, placing your chin on the floor. Your legs should be no more than hip-width apart. Your palms will be placed on the floor, just beneath your shoulders. Your elbows should be close to your torso and should not flare out. Inhale, while lifting your upper torso, chest, and head above the floor – using very little pressure from your hands. Arch your back, and look up toward the ceiling. Hold this posture, while taking three full breaths, and release. If you have trouble with this pose, reduce the arch of your back. Be aware, that the less pressure used from your hands, will make the core muscles work more. If you want to give your core muscles more work, try it with no hand pressure.

These poses will develop your core muscles and improve your posture. If you experience difficulty in mastering these poses, simply hold the positions for less time, until your body becomes stronger. You can add these asanas to your current Yoga practice.

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