By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed
For many Yoga students and teachers, spring is the time to reinvigorate your life on many levels. This may include cleaning out your closet, detailing your car and doing a deep spring-cleaning of your apartment or house. This impetus to clean out that which is no longer serving you and spruce up your living space is a natural response to the new life, which is generated during this time of the year. Many Yoga practitioners also respond to the pulsation of new life around them by revamping their exercise regime, including their Yoga practice.
If you find that your Yoga practice has become somewhat routine and uninspired over the long winter months, the springtime is a wonderfully inspiring time to breath new life into your practice. One way of doing this is to include more core strengthening exercises into your practice. A balanced practice of traditional Yoga postures that includes standing, balancing, twisting, and seated poses, offers a practitioner many ways to incorporate core-strengthening exercises into the “regular” flow of the practice.
For instance, simply keeping one leg raised while you flow from Downward Facing Dog into Plank Pose and Upward Facing Dog is tremendously strengthening. In the same way, weaving some core abdominal work into your Yoga practice as you flow in and out of the postures will strengthen your side oblique and abdominal muscles, without you even noticing! If you incorporate these abdominal strengthening movements into your Yoga practice several times a week, in a fairly short amount of time you will notice a substantial improvement in your core strength.
Two of my favorite cores strengthening Yoga poses are Reclining Goddess Pulses and Dolphin Plank Pose. Reclining Goddess Pulses are a gentle way to improve your core strength if you are recovering from an injury or surgical procedure, which makes it difficult to engage in a more vigorous core strengthening exercise. Dolphin Plank Pose is a very strengthening core Yoga posture that can easily and efficiently be woven into a vinyasa-based practice. Both of these poses will effectively strengthen your core abdominal muscles and release tension throughout your shoulders and the neck.
* Reclining Goddess Pulses
Reclining Goddess Pulses are small abdominal movements that are done while in Reclining Goddess Pose. Reclining Goddess Pose is generally practiced towards the end of a Yoga class and prior to Shavasana. When you are ready to practice Reclining Goddess Pulses, lie down on your Yoga mat and place your legs in a diamond position, with the soles of your feet lightly touching. If your knees or hips are tight, you may wish to place two rolled blankets, pillows or bolsters underneath your knees for support. This movement should pre practiced slowly to avoid ballistic stretching. If you are recovering from abdominal surgery or an injury, remember to move very slowly and with compassion and respect for your body.
Reclining Goddess Pose helps to increase the blood flow throughout the pelvic area, as it stretches out the groin and hip muscles. By incorporating a series of small pulses with your hands in between your knees, you will gently strengthen your core abdominal muscles and release tension in your shoulders and neck. To practice Reclining Goddesses Pulses, extend your arms between your legs and press the palms of your hands together with your fingers facing the front of the Yoga studio. Extend you arms fully, and begin to gently contract your abdominal muscles with each exhale.
As you contract or pulse your abdominal muscles with each exhalation, extend your hands an inch or two further towards the front of the room or Yoga studio. This extension will help to elongate the muscles along the sides of your neck and release any tension in your shoulders. Pulse for a set of ten counts, and then lie back and rest for a moment in Reclining Goddess Pose before doing two more set of ten pulses. When you have completed a series of three rounds of Reclining Goddess Pulses, lie back on your mat and rest in Goddess Pose before proceeding with the rest of your Yoga practice.
Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York; where she specializes in writing customized, search engine-optimized articles that are 100% unique. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.