In Part 2 of our blog series focused on the core, we will discuss exactly why Yoga is so good for training the core…
In my experience as a Yoga teacher, strong and flexible core muscles results in:
- no or less back-pain
- faster recovery times from minor injuries
- faster recovery from child-birth
- stronger and safer transition between dynamic yoga postures and sequences
- increased ability to practice dynamic yoga poses
Why is a strong core important?
Yoga postures require us to move the body into dynamic positions, which we then hold for extended periods of time. In general, anytime you hold your upper body in a static position, and then move it shortly afterwards, with the spine extended beyond the hips, you incorporate your core muscles.
In yoga, there are a large variety of postures that do exactly that. In an average 60 – 90 minute Vinyasa Yoga class, whether you are aware of it or not, a large majority of the postures that you perform will help bring strength and flexibility to your core. Vinyasa Yoga, if performed mindfully and slowly, with a focus on alignment, is exceptionally good for core training.
The reason for this is that although it is important to have a strong core, it is also important that your core muscles are flexible. Qualified physiotherapist and life long Yoga teacher, Simon Borg-Olivier gives a great analogy…
He mentions that you have to treat the core like an injured body part. At first you wrap it up tight with a band-aid or bandage to let it heal and then get strong. Once that is complete, you remove the dressing and allow that part of your body that was injured to resume its normal range of motion in order to avoid muscular atrophy or fascial tightness.
The core should be treated in the same way. At first you keep it rigid to strengthen it, and then you allow your core strength training to include movement, in order to ensure that your core muscles have a ‘functional’ strength that keeps you safe through all the movements that you perform in your day-to-day life.
Yoga’s all round approach to the body and balancing strength with flexibility is ideally suited to providing practitioners with the benefits of a strong and flexible core.
In Part 3 of this blog series we will look at what I consider to be your most important individual core muscle, the Diaphragm, and how to ensure that you are using it effectively.