Yoga is about discovering the core of who we are. As we deepen our physical connection to our body, we open the doors to our spiritual center as well. On a practical level, how can we explore this connection to our body? Read on for four techniques to help you get started today.
We often rush to the most extreme expression of a pose in yoga. We can develop our proprioception by using micro-movements. Proprioception is the physical sense of where our body is in space.
Table pose is a great place to do this. Try lifting your hand an inch above the table. This small movement will instantly remove one “leg” of your table. Be aware of how your core is engaged to maintain balance. Next time you are on your mat or in a class, try to keep your range of motion smaller in each of your poses. This will allow you to see your connection with your core from a completely different perspective.
Play with Variations
We can get habituated to certain postures. We can increase our strength and stability by challenging our muscle memory with variations. The tree pose is an excellent place to try this.
Lift both hands in the air. Let go of your right hand and let it rest on your right knee. Lean to your right and let your left hand guide you. Feel your left side stretch. This crescent variation changes the tree’s expression and your balance. Keep your focus on the core throughout. Many poses, including warriors or lunges, can be twisted with a crescent-shaped stretch.
You’re More Than Your Core
Most people think of their core as their stomach, but it’s not the whole picture. Also, our backs and sides form part of the core! This core can be explored through lateral (side) poses such as the crescent moon, gentle side stretch, and star pose. Baby cobra, a posture suitable for all levels and safe to do, is great for strengthening the back. Want to maximize your core strength but are short on time? Plank poses are hard to beat. This pose engages the entire core.
Our core muscles and back muscles weaken when we sit with our backs against a chair. When I sit down, I lean forward and don’t use the chair back at all. My body told me to do this the first few times I tried it. After a few moments, I started to feel some discomfort and tension in my back. This transition is more difficult the longer you sit in poor posture. Take your time and slowly recover your strength.
You’ll notice that by using these four techniques, you will have a stronger connection with your core, which you can take into any pose.