Core Awakening Yoga
Core awakening yoga is about creating space and guiding students into a strong and supple core. In the popular fitness culture, the ideal core is often called a “six-pack”. But these are the most superficial of the abdominal core muscles. When overdeveloped and tight, this rectus abdominis muscle is a source of tension as well as spinal and breathing problems. When we have a refined core, we will feel grace and ease, poise and elegance, comfort and stability. Ana Forrest, innovative yoga master, says, “we want to relieve emotional and physical restriction, to release deep guttural anxiety, not seal it in.”
How to Feel Core Awakening
Yoga teachers should guide students into creating a strong but supple core. As the core is strengthened, opened, and refined, we will find balance and stability. Let’s expand the view of the core and think of the space from the arches of the feet, up the inseams of the legs to the floor or the pelvis, up through the spine, and out through the crown of the head.
We use uddiyana bandha, the naval lock, to draw energetically toward the center and feel lift and engagement. This will strengthen and refine the muscles that are at the heart of core refinement and make the more specific core awakening yoga practices sustainable. Focus on asanas and movements that are designed to strengthen muscles in the front and center body that give support and mobility to the lower torso.
How to Practice Core Awakening Yoga
- Core awakening yoga practices warm the body and bring targeted warming to the spine, pelvis, belly, and back.
- Core awakening yoga practices give balanced awakening to all major abdominal core muscles: rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transversus abdominis, and the psoas.
- We can feel the awakening of the core just before arm balances like Bakasana (crane pose) and Adho Muhka Vrksasana (handstand).
- Focus on core awakening the rectus abdominus and psoas in arm balances where the pelvis is higher than the shoulders- like Galavasana (flying crow pose)
- Focus on awakening the transverse abdominis and oblique muscles in arm balances that twist the torso like Astavakrasana (eight-angle pose).
- Poses like Navasana (boat pose) intensely work the psoas. Make sure to stretch out the psoas to minimize anterior rotation of the pelvis.
- It is safe to practice back bends after core awakening yoga poses if you neutralize the core with twists first.
- Core abdominal work is a good way to bring support to the lumbar spine after back bends.
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