Training Resource Center
Yoga Poses for Core
|As always, check
with your physician before beginning an exercise program.
Yoga is an ancient
practice dating back almost 4000 years ago. It is currently,
however, finding new popularity as an alternative to traditional
exercise routines. Pilates, an exercise technique first popularized
for dancers in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates, has also
recently become popular. Pilates features many similar poses
to Yoga, but is without the meditation/relaxation component
of Yoga. Traditionally, Yoga combines physical work through
strengthening and flexibility poses, with meditation and relaxation
to promote inner focus, balance and awareness. It is an ideal
way to enhance the type of focus necessary for athletes, and
also promotes core strength and balance, essential for injury
Personal trainers, physical therapists and sports conditioning
specialists often incorporate “yoga-like” movements
into their training programs for the reasons outlined above.
Listed below are a few “yoga-like” poses which
will greatly enhance balance, strength and postural awareness.
of yoga poses is ideal for novice as well as experienced
yoga students. It will also enhance posture and “core”
strength for athletes and experienced exercisers looking
for variety and a change of pace from their usual routine.
of this program:
||To build core
strength through practicing yoga-like poses.
can be done every day or every other day, depending on
the amount of muscle soreness you have post exercise.
exercise routines where you must increase work over time
to increase benefits, yoga poses have infinite time-tested
value and potential as they are more than just an exercise
routine. Yoga provides additional benefits such as focus,
calmness and body awareness. This short series of poses
can be performed as long as you enjoy them!
Your breath: Breathe consistently through
the exercises. Breath holding can elevate blood pressure.
You may want to use a towel or a Yoga mat to stand on.
Generally yoga is performed barefoot, and so the yoga
mat provides a “sticky” surface for traction.
As always, stop
exercises immediately if you have any unusual pain. Work carefully
and slowly at first, as these exercises are very challenging.
- Warm up your body by doing cardio activity,
or by using the three warm-up movements (woodchopper, cross-body
reach and standing rotations) described in the Warming
Up and Cooling Down article.
- Lunges- strengthen the legs, gluteals and promote
Stand with feet hip width apart, toes pointed straight ahead.
Step forward with right leg about 2/3 of body length. Remain
here- lift heel up of back leg and bend knee of back leg-
keep toes pointed straight ahead. Keeping back very straight,
chest up and abdominals tight, lower slowly towards floor
(not all the way to floor) bending both knees, and push
back up to start position. Repeat 10-15 times, and then
switch legs. Make sure front knees stays over shoes, not
jutting out in front of shoe.
- Bridges- works core strength, gluteals, hamstrings,
Lie on floor on your back with knees bent and feet on floor,
hip width apart, toes pointed straight ahead. Place arms
next to your body, with your palms down. Lift buttocks up
by pressing through heels, until hips and thighs are level
to floor. You can hold this position for 20 seconds, or
lift and lower slowly for 15 reps. This exercise can also
be done with one leg crossed over the other, ankle resting
on opposite knee, pressing up with one foot for 15 reps
- Plank Hold- works core strength
(abdominals and back), shoulder stability. Get
on hands and knees and lower onto forearms. Move feet back
until you are up on your toes with legs straight as in pushup
position, knees off of floor. Remain on forearms, making
sure elbows are under shoulders, and draw in abdominal muscle
as you hold this “plank” position for 20 seconds
or more. Back should remain perfectly straight in this position.
This can be done 3-5 times depending on fatigue and strength
- Side plank- works lateral abdominals
and back muscles, shoulder stability. A more difficult
variation of plank! Lie on your side, knees bent slightly,
propped up on one elbow with chest and ribcage lifted and
shoulders strong. Split legs slightly so one foot is in
front of the other. You will be resting slightly on sides
of feet. Using legs to push you upwards, lift hip up until
hip and back are straight in line and body is off floor
except for feet and forearms. Make sure hip is lifted with
chest and hips facing the wall, not towards floor. Work
opposite side as well, 2-3 times per side.
- V-Seats (or boat pose)- works core strength.
Sit on floor with knees bent up and feet flat on floor-
toes pointed straight ahead. Lean back onto arms behind
your body, and lift chest up and press shoulders slightly
back (i.e., try not to slouch). Try and keep back straight
as you sit at the base of your spine, and lift legs off
floor, straight in front of you. Keep chest up and hold
this pike position for 10 seconds or more. As you progress,
move arms so that they are lifted straight in front of you,
palms face each other, fingertips pointing towards feet
and try and hold this balancing position. Once you can hold
your balance, move arms and legs slightly to side in opposite
directions to work obliques and lateral back muscles. Perform
exercise 3-5 times depending on strength.
- Dead Bug- works core, deep abdominal muscles.
Lie on floor on back, knees bent up, feet on floor. Lift
legs up keeping knees over belly button, knees are slightly
bent. Lift arms up too, pointing finger tips up to ceiling,
arms very straight. Inhale, and exhale hard as you lift
shoulders off floor, tucking chin in to chest, and lift
buttocks off floor in a reverse curl. (picture the dead
bug in the Raid commercial!) Then, inhale again and exhale
forcefully pulling lower abs in with exhale. Lower arms
and legs and repeat a few times. For an advance variation,
lift into dead bug, exhale hard, then resume normal breathing
as you move arms and legs right to left in opposite directions
to work lateral back and abs.
- Cool down your body with an extended
period of stretching.