4 For the Core - Week 1: Stablize
Image courtesy of Sukha Design

Earlier this summer, I worked with Seattle Yoga News and Danielle Sack of Sukha Design to publish an article centered around building core strength with yoga. What was originally supposed to be a single article turned into a month long challenge to transform your and strengthen your core!

This powerful 4-week progressive series will help build overall core strength and control. We will start the month with core stabilizing poses then work our way through invigorating strengthening sequences.

Week 1:  Stabilize

Our goal for this week is to set the base for our practice. The set of poses for this week aim to stabilize and strengthen our core. Repeat this sequence daily as we build strength for our core flow sequence next week.

Cat/Cow

  1. Start in table top position, take a moment to find yourself on your mat. Ensure that the shoulders are aligned over the wrist, hips over knees.
  2. As you inhale, press the mat away from you as you lift your chest and tailbone towards the sky. Let the belly sink towards the earth. Lift your head to look forward. You are now in Cow Pose.
  3. As you exhale, round the spine, continue pressing the mat away as you tuck the chin towards your chest and tailbone in. Keep the belly drawn in and spine curved towards the sky. You are now in Cat Pose.
  4. Repeat this sequence 3 – 5 times.

Diana Ra in Cow PoseCow Pose

Diana Ra in Cat PoseCat Pose

Cat and Cow Crunches

  1. As we build onto our cat/cow sequence, start again in table top. Extend your left arm forward in alignment with your shoulder. Extend the opposite right leg back in alignment with your hip. Keep your belly drawn as we hold in our balance for a few breaths.
  2. As you exhale, begin to curl the spin back into cat pose while simultaneously bending the elbow and drawing the knee and elbow to touch beneath your belly. Keep your belly drawn throughout.
  3. On the next inhale, re-extend the limbs to meet back in extended table top.
  4. Repeat steps 1 – 3 for 10 breaths, being sure to sync your breath to your movements.
  5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 on the opposing limbs.

Core Yoga Series-25Extended Table Top

Core Yoga Series-26Cat Crunch (Knee to Elbow)

Boat Pose (Navasana)

  1. Sit on your mat with your legs extended forward in a comfortable seat. Draw your belly in to protect your lower spine as you begin to lift through the top of your sternum and lean back from your seat (feel free to place your hands on your mat for support). Make sure your spine doesn’t round as you lean back. Keep the chest moving forward in Navasana.
  2. Begin to balance on the seat of your two sitting bones and tailbone as you lift your feet from your mat. Keep your belly drawn as you exhale and draw your feel to half-mast (knee level). Option to extend legs into full boat.
  3. Draw your arms to shoulders level as you hold your pose. Hold for 5 – 10 full breaths.

Diana Ra in Boat Pose NavasanaNavasana or Boat Pose

Boat Twists

  1. From boat pose, draw your hands together.
  2. Keep your form steady as you exhale and twist your upper body to the right. Extend and reach your hands to touch the right side of your mat.
  3. Inhale as you come back to center, then repeat the twist (step 2) to the opposite side.
  4. Repeat twists 10 sides to each side.

Diana Ra in Twisted Boat or NavasanaTwisted Boat or Navasana

Dolphin Plank

  1. Lie on your belly with your elbows directly under your wrists and your feet hips width apart.
  2. Brace your core and shift your weight onto your forearms and toes. Lift your hips off of your mat and hold. Image a long line extending from your shoulders to your heels as your breath through your Dolphin Plank.
  3. Hold the pose for 5 – 10 breaths.
  4. Option to hold plank on your knees as needed.

Diana Ra in Dolphin Plank PoseDolphin Plank Pose

Side Dolphin Planks

  1. From Dolphin Plank, begin to shift to the right side of your body; shifting your weight onto your right forearm and the knife’s edge of your right foot.
  2. Keep your core tight and hips lifted as you extend your left arm towards the sky.
  3. Hold the post for 5 – 10 breaths.

Diana Ra in Side PlankSide Plank

Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

  1. Lie on your belly and forearms with your elbows bent and placed directly underneath the shoulders.
  2. As you inhale, lift your upper torso and head away from the floor in a slight upper back backbend.
  3. Use the traction from the arms to lengthen through the belly and lower back. Hold the pose for 5 – 10 breaths.

Diana Ra in Sphinx PoseSphinx Pose or Salamba Bujhangasana

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