Between ujjayi breathing, engaging your bandhas, and holding certain postures, yoga provides a stellar workout for your core, the benefits of which go way beyond the mat.
Sure, a stronger core will help you stand taller in Tree Pose, hold Warrior III with more control, and even help you in Handstand, but more importantly it can benefit your overall health as well. Here are five of the most important reasons to build your core strength.
1. Hold those asanas longer and stronger.
Balance postures are part skill and practice, but they also require a strong core.
Consider the more basic balance postures like Tree or Headstand: if you collapse in your core, the posture is lost. You can concentrate on standing tall and grounding into the earth all you want, but without a strong core to support you, all the focus in the world won’t help.
2. Lower your risk of back pain.
Low back pain can be debilitating. Since your abs are in front of your spine, they play a crucial role in supporting your entire girdle area. If those muscles are weak, the surrounding muscles need to work harder to hold your spine straight—including your back muscles.
If, on the other hand, you abs and back muscles are strong, holding your spine in the proper position is significantly easier, and the risk of straining muscles decreases. Core strengtheners are even commonly recommended as a mode of therapy to help back pain sufferers find relief.
3. Improve your balance.
On the mat, a strong core can help you hold many asanas longer and steadier. Off the mat, though, especially as we age, balance becomes increasingly important to keep you from falling and from getting injured. A strong core makes it so you can move any which way and not falter or lose your balance.
4. Achieve proper posture.
You know that proper posture dictates that you stand tall with your shoulders back and head held high. Still, most of us don’t think about it and tend to round our shoulders and slump forward in a way that would make our mothers cringe.
Part of the problem may be blamed on weak core muscles. By strengthening your core, proper posture becomes easier—and that translates to improved breathing and less wear and tear on your spine, all of which will help you stay healthier longer.
5. Perform daily tasks easier.
You may not realize how much you use your core muscles to put something on a shelf or to bend over to tie your shoes, but they play a role in just about every movement you do. Without core strength, you would find it extremely challenging to get through a day.
The stronger your core, the less energy and effort you’ll need to put into simple movements, and the more energy you’ll have for your yoga practice.
It’s important to remember that when we talk about core, we’re not just talking about your abs. A strong core involves not just your stomach muscles but your back muscles as well.
Postures such as Plank, Side Plank and Boat Pose may not be on your list of favorite poses, but I promise that adding them to your practice will help you build core strength faster, and in no time you may actually enjoy them. And, one more added benefit—a flatter stomach! Who doesn’t want that?