Our core is the power plant of our body, supporting and enabling every move we make. A strong core holds our spine straight and steady, and allows our limbs to function freely.
The core is also home to our organs, so is essential to the metabolic and digestive processes that fuel our body from the cellular level upwards.
Well-being comes from having a body operating with harmony and efficiency. Now, more than ever, we need the benefits of a strong core to support our physical and mental wellness.
These four core power yoga poses will build resilience from the inside out.
Boat pose (Navasana)
This is a classic core power pose that offers benefits to all levels, from beginner to advanced practitioner. To do the pose, balance on your sit bones and pelvis and extend your arms and legs, forming a V.
It rapidly strengthens your core and builds stamina. As your strength improves you can refine your extension, hold the pose for longer and control the breath.
Plank pose (Adho Mukha Dandasana)
Another powerhouse pose that can go from (relatively) easy to difficult, depending on your level of fitness.
The basic plank pose is stacking your shoulders over your hands in a ‘top of a press up’ position, with straight legs, and using core strength to keep your spine neutral. Practice this pose regularly, extending the time gradually.
Once you can comfortably hold it for 60 seconds or more, you can increase the intensity by dipping alternate knees, or shifting into side-plank pose.
Awkward airplane pose
This beautiful posture is deceptively simple-looking. You start on all fours (tabletop pose) then extend your left arm and right leg perpendicular to your core; to complete the posture, switch and extend right arm and left leg.
At first you’re likely to wobble and fall out of the posture but, second by second, you’ll develop the core strength to control your limbs and maintain your balance. When you do, it’s incredibly rewarding!
Upward extended foot pose (Urdhva Prasarita Padasana)
This is an absolute gem that will power up your whole core and support correct posture and movement. Also, because you lie flat, there is minimal risk of strain or injury to the neck and back (which can be an issue with traditional crunches or sit-ups).
Lie on your mat and fully extend your arms above your head. Slowly, controlling the movement, raise both legs — keeping them straight and strong — until you are L-shaped.
If this is too challenging at first, start by raising your legs as far off the ground as you can without arching your spine. Focus on keeping the spinal column neutral and your face and neck relaxed. As you build strength, move deeper into the posture.