Core Yoga – A Basic Core Practice

Today’s routine is all about the core, which is more than just your abs. If you are looking for a 6-pack though, I got you. We’ll start with a little stretching to warm up our muscles and get our spine moving, then we’ll move onto the real meat of the practice, and finally wind down and end it all with some nice savasana.

As always, I have the routine typed out for you below! This time it’s the same routine as in the video with the addition of 1 pose, so you’re getting a 20 minute practice! And, per usual, I recommend reading the practice before you do it so it’s easier to just flow through! If you feel tired, you can always take a break, enter a child’s pose, or lay on your back with your knees in your chest, or anything else that feels yummy to you! Enjoy!
(You may notice some of the poses are the same as the previous practice.)

Basic Core Yoga

Seated side stretch: I find it’s easiest to do this pose sitting in a cross-legged position. If that’s totally not for you, you can also kneel. You may need to place your hand on a block if you kneel. Start by firmly planting your right hand off your right hip (this is the hand you would place on a block if you are kneeling). Your fingers should point out to your right. Bring your left hand, palm up, up and over head so you create a night long straight line from your left hip all the way up to your left finger tips. Lean to the right, and maybe even slide your right hand out! If you can, rest on your right elbow. Remember to switch sides!

Seated twist: With your legs bent in front of you, take your right foot, and bring the heel to the outside of your left hip. Your leg will be bent and completely on the ground, sort of like you’re sitting cross legged. Keeping the left knee bent, bring the left foot to the outside of the right thigh. Hook your right arm around your left knee, or bring the top of your right arm, to the top of your left thigh. Use this arm to help twist your body to the left. Lead with the torso, then turn to look over your left shoulder last. To come out, start at the top of your spine and turn your head to neutral then your torso. Don’t forget to switch!

Cat Pose: This post is done from all fours, let the tops of your feet rest on the ground, and your palms should be firmly planted shoulder width apart on your mat. Inhale as you engage your abs, tuck your pelvis, and round your back, like a cat arching it’s back. As you exhale, release your pelvis and let it tilt the opposite way, arch your back, and look straight-ish forward. Alternate these a few times. If you’d like, return to neutral flat back, then “wag your tail” back and forth. Pretty much, lean your butt from one side to the other. This can feel really nice! If your wrists don’t like being bent, you can also do this on your fists! (Most poses in this routine with your hands like that, you can substitute with fists.)

Leg/Arm Balance (Leg/Arm lifts): This pose is done from a table top position, like the previous pose. Really think about your abs with this pose. They should be doing a lot of work. Your glutes, arms, back, sides, shoulders, everything! This is a very active pose for your whole body, so keep that structural integrity in your body as you do this. In this pose we lift one arm and the opposite leg usually, however, you can also life just your legs, just your arms, or the same leg and arm (try it! It’s pretty hard, but it’s fun!) I usually lift my leg first, I focus on tightening my core, and pulling those muscles in, then lift up my leg and send it straight out to the back, kind of like I’m pointing with my entire leg to the wall behind me. Then I slowly lift the other arm, so I would lift my right leg and left arm. If your knees are digging into the floor too much, throw a blanket under your knees, or use two yoga mats. That should help. Switch sides! I do 2 on each side and hold them for a few seconds in the video.
Challenge: Hold it for more than a few seconds! 30 seconds, 1 minute. The longer you hold it, the more your body is working! 

Plank/Chatturanga (Optional – Side plank): For the basic plank position, you have 3 options with your arms and 2 with your legs here: You can keep your knees bend and on the mat, I recommend then keeping your feet off the mat if you can, or you can stay on your toes with your knees straight. Each of these arm positions also has slightly different benefits too, so maybe you want to try our each one!
Option 1: Straight arms. Your arms would be extended straight in front of you, like you are in a table to position.
Option 2: Rest on your elbows, with your forearms flat on the mat going straight out in front of you!
Option 3: Chatturanga arms! Start like in the first option, but you will lower yourself down so that your elbows are bending back. You want your elbows at about a 90 degree angle. This can be a very hard pose though, so don’t be afraid to back out, or do it on your knees. This one you can’t really do on your fists though. I suppose you could, so if you really like doing it like that go for it, but if you can, try doing it with your palms open and flat on the ground.
The side plank can be done from the first two options. You can always push up from Chatturanga into option 1 though, so don’t think you’ve committed to not trying out side planks. You really just move all your weight and roll over to your side and support your body using your right hand and foot. Don’t for get to do it on both sides!

Let Lifts/Circles: Here is your bonus pose! You get to lie flat on your back. I would keep your hands in toward your body, some even say put your hands palms down under your bottom. Squeeze your legs together and lift them straight up, so that they come up about 90 degrees from your body (if you don’t have that range of motion, this can be SUPER hard, but still worth it so long as you don’t feel pain.) While your legs are at that 90 degree angle, keep your feet flexed, once you start moving them around, you can point your toes, but always keep your feet active. No floppy feet. Lower your legs half way and hold it. If you can, draw large and small circles both directions with your toes. Drop your legs all the way down with 1 or 2 inches between your legs and the ground. More circles! Bring them up most of the way, but not completely. Circles!! And back to 90 degrees with your feet flexed, bend your knees and bring them into your chest. Give your legs a big hug. You can repeat this sequence as you see fit.

Reclined twist: Since we’ve just done a bunch of work, how about we take a break and enjoy a twist? Lie on your back with your knees bend and feet flat on the ground about hip width apart. Relax here a moment. When you’re ready, let your knees relax over to your right side. You can place a blanket, block, books, etc. under your knees for support if they don’t come all the way to the ground. I like to place my right hand on top of my legs to help coax them down. Send your left arm straight out to the side, as if you were making a T with your arms (you can make a T with your arms too if you want.) When you bring your knees back up, your core should be doing a little work. Switch to the left side!

Boat: I’m a big fan of getting in one last little work out before we completely relax. If you feel like this is too much and you want to skip this, you can! Sit up with your knees bent and your feet in front of you. Focus on trying to keep your back straight, before you start this pose, you may want to place your hands on your shins and pull yourself forward a bit to really help encourage that straight back. Not arching, just straight.  Release your hands. bring your arms up straight forward out of your shoulders, with your hands shoulder width apart. Rock back slightly so that your feet come off the ground. Then lift up your shins and feel so they’re parallel with the floor. Keep those toes pointed.
From here you have a few options. You can bring your fingertips together and rotate your upper body to the left and right so that your elbows alternately rock toward the floor, or you can straighten your legs, and try to create a 90 degree angle between your torso and legs. If you have tight hamstrings, like me, you’ll find that even if you have the ab strength, this full extension can be hard, but you can still try it out! To come out, bend your knees generously, and rock forward so that your toes, then entire foot, rests on the ground.

Down Dog: From a table top position, tuck your toes, push into your hands, and lift your knees, then send your sit bones on up! (For those who may not know, your sit bones are those two pointy bones in your bottom. There’s one in each cheek!)

Cobra: You get to lie on your belly now! Nothing fancy, just lie down on your belly first. Don’t tuck your toes. Now place your hands on either side of your chest palms down. Your elbows will stick up in the air. I like to start with “baby” cobras. It’s a muscular version, as opposed to pushing into your hands to lift your chest. Really press the top of your feet into the ground, engage your quads, glutes, and core. Lift your head and chest up from the ground. To check if you’re doing your baby cobra right, try lifting your hands off the ground! Relax back down. You can do another of those, or, with the same muscles in mind, lift up nice and high by pushing into your hands into the ground.

Child’s Pose: From Cobra, push up through a table top position, and continue sending your sit bones back. Set your bottom down on your heals. Your body should be leaning forward with your stomach resting on your thighs. If you can’t reach the ground, you can place pillow or block under your forehead. Send your hands out straight forward with your hands planted on the mat. You can keep your hands straight, or relax them on either side of your body.

Savasana: Flip onto your back, let your feet flop out (now you can have floppy feet) and let your fingers naturally curl. Now is the perfect time to do a little check in with your body. See how you’re feeling, if anything is hurting, etc. This is also the time to add in any other poses you might want to do before Savasana. Let your body feel heavy and take some nice long deep breaths. You deserve this.

Namaste

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