Core strength is one of the most important things that we can focus on. With a strong core we protect the abdominal organs, support the back, improve breathing, and prevent injuries. Core strength protects the abdominal organs because as the muscles are strengthened they become harder forming a shield around the abdominal organs. Core strength supports the back because when the core is strengthened, the body does not have to rely solely on the back to hold the trunk upright and elongated. The core takes the burden off of the back. Breathing is improved with a stronger core as well because our diaphragm, or breathing muscle, sits atop the abdominal organs. When we build the accessory voluntary muscles of the core the involuntary muscle of the diaphragm can move more easily and deeply. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is essential to calming the central nervous system and bringing fresh blood and oxygen to the tissues of the body. Injuries are prevented with a strong core in much the same fashion as the abdominal organs are protected. A strong core enables you to move from a central place avoiding injuries of the extremities.
Vasisthasana ~ Side Plank Pose ~ Anatomical Alignment
There are many Yoga postures that can improve core strength. Vasisthasana, or Side Plank is one of the best ways to work the entire core including front, back and side body. There are two basic variations that you can practice. The first variation, or simplest, is done by bringing the right hand directly under the shoulder and the right knee directly under the hip, extending the left leg and energizing through the left heel. The right toes will point in the same direction that the left heel is energizing to. Energize through the right arm and left leg while gently energizing through the top of the right foot. Extend the left arm over the left shoulder and focus on breathing fully and deeply through the entire torso. The second variation is pictured and is done with the right arm under the right shoulder and both legs extended from the hips, flexed at the heels with the entire body facing front. Energize the grounded hand as you reach through the left hand, and energize through both legs from the heels while lifting the quadriceps in and up. Breath into the pose and recognize what is taking place within the body. The nice thing about practicing Vasisthasana, or Side Plank Pose, is that you don’t even realize you are building the core as you would in traditional sit-ups. Happy Side Planking!!