WHAT IS CORE YOGA?
Core Yoga is a fusion of Pilate’s exercises and Yoga postures that are delivered in a sequence to safely build core strength through precise movements using your own body weight. The sequences are offered with modifications and variations to suit all levels of fitness and abilities making a Core Yoga class suitable for everybody.
Yoga and Pilates postures and techniques have been refined over the years with ongoing studies into the human body to develop practices that improve strength, posture, mobility and flexibility along with the added proven and traditional methods in breathe work to invoke calmness to the mind and awareness of the body. By participating in a Core Yoga class you will be well on your way to improved posture, core stability, breath and body awareness.
WHAT IS THE CORE?
Your core is much more than your abdominal muscles. Your core is made up of a series of deeply layered muscles including multifidous, transverse abdominus, pelvic floor, diaphragm, longissimus and quadratus lumborum. These muscles are layered in the body (excluding the arms and legs) and allow us to move through all three planes of movement being forward and backward (sagittal plane), side-to-side (frontal plane) and rotation (transverse plane). Your core muscles act to stabilize, support and balance the body during movement.
BENEFITS OF CORE YOGA
Your core strength affects the way you sit, walk, run and even breath. A weak core adversely affects your posture causing you to hunch and can often be the cause of low back pain. In turn, poor posture can also decrease lung expansion and therefore have an adverse affect on lung capacity. Improving core stability protects the spine and supporting muscles from injury in dynamic and static movements. Higher core stability equals a lower risk of injury.
The slow and precise movements through the Core Yoga sequences bring a supportive focus into postural awareness, breath awareness and overall breathing techniques. These corrective techniques will assist to improve breathing, promote oxygenation of the blood, exercise the diaphragm and decrease stress and anxiety to promote a calmer state of being. Additionally a strong core will decrease or eliminate the severity of low back pain whilst providing postural awareness and core stability to perform exercises more effectively with correct technique. Every organ and muscle in the body needs oxygen to function optimally to peak performance. This method of exercise provides a vital link between body, breath and mind through the system of the body.
Core yoga poses also provide a strong foundation for beginners who can increase their strength and flexibility and improve their daily life as well as professional athletes looking to improve core function for improved strength and mobility with the added benefits that stretching exercises in the sequence provides to increase flexibility.
DISADVANTAGES OF A WEAK CORE
So why not do sit-ups? Well to simply answer, the traditional sit-ups tend to put a large strain on the hip-flexors which will take over most of the core work for you, leaving the core weak and hip flexors over developed causing you to hunch more forward and inturn increasing back pain due to the strain it places on the spine and lower back. This poor posture can lead to an increased anterior pelvic tilt and increased lordosis of the lumbar spine increasing the pain associated to the lower back region.
Many Australians suffer from back pain, which inhibits our ability to perform functional movements during work activities, affecting what exercises we can perform, and ultimately decreasing our desire to live a fit and active lifestyle. This goes much further with the financial demands that back pain brings through endless treatment with a doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor, medications, surgery etc. and the loss of income associated with the limitations that can surface. Chronic back pain and reduction in a healthy participation in life also has a significant effect on our mental well being and increases the likelihood of mental health issues, physical stress and decline in overall health.
Suzie Kellett, owner of Empower Yoga & Fitness says, “I suffered back pain for decades as a result of pregnancy, child birth, poor posture and a weak core. During my 13 years as a police/forensic officer, I carried an additional 10kg in accoutrements around my hips and waist, which caused further back pain due to having to compensate for the additional weight and shift in posture to allow me to sit comfortably in a police vehicle. All my life I have been fit and active though over the years the back pain persisted and even increased in severity. Since focusing on core sequences through yoga practice, my posture has improved and I no longer require chiropractic care. With a stronger and more stable core, I am able to progress in my strength program in the gym, deepen my yoga practice, go back to running and I have noticed that other functional movements I perform are now pain free. The Core Yoga training I have received through the developer and internationally recognized master trainer/senior teacher Heather Agnew of Yoga Trinity Canberra, has been fundamental in providing my students and myself a sequence that is attainable by all levels of fitness with options to decrease or increase safely in the progression or regression of poses offered. One of my students is a quad amputee and is a regular to my Core Yoga class. The flow of movements during the mat sequence does not require her to constantly get up and down which decreases the interruption to her practice”.
Core Yoga is fast growing in popularity as a specialty yoga practice due to it’s accessibility to all levels of fitness, and suitable for just about everybody. Whether you only attend Core Yoga as your regular fitness regime or as a compliment to your yoga and fitness program, it is a sensible beginning to a safe Yoga journey to enable your body to move well for life by building a foundation of strength, postural awareness, flexibility, and breath awareness…not to mention the benefits it will provide to your mental clarity.