There are various balance building exercises to find your core. Balance exercise is one type of exercise that can improve strength, endurance, flexibility and of course balance. Core exercises are important in training core because this leads to better balance and stability, as it trains muscles in the pelvis, lower back, hips, and abdomen to work in harmony.
When we practice yoga, we also work on our energy and our mind not just our physical body. We build strength through the belly, side waist, glutes and back with core strengtheners. Most core exercises can be divided into two camps. They work either for stabilization (holding spine and pelvis steady) like planking by challenging core muscles to hold body stable in space and through articulation (moving through the small joints along the spine) that help balance core strength front to back.
There are three different plank orientations. Let’s start with your hands under your shoulders in a standard downward-facing Plank Pose. To activate lower belly, you have to make sure to keep your legs strong and straight and gently tuck in your tailbone. Stay for 5-15 breaths, up to 1 minute.
For Side Plank, shift your weight into right hand then rotate legs to ground outer right foot into the mat, stacking left leg and hip over their right counterparts. Lift left arm to the sky. This strengthens the obliques, while the abdominals work to stabilize the entire body. Stay on right palm with shoulders stacked or drop to your forearm. Stay for 5-15 breaths, then bring the left hand down to regular plank. Repeat on the other side.
Finally, turn your Plank sunny-side up. Take your hands under shoulders and lift your hips, pressing feet into the floor. Experiment to find what feels most comfortable with making your fingers face forward, wide or backward. To lighten the load, bend your knees and step your feet under them. Stay for 5-15 breaths.
For articulation exercises, from all fours, inhale and extend one arm forward and opposite leg straight back, finding a stable balance for a few breaths. Then exhale to bring your elbow and knee toward each other as your back rounds. Before switching to the opposite arm and leg, do 5-15 rounds. Lie on your belly and reach one hand back for the same-side foot, holding either the outer foot or the inside foot. Inhale to kick your foot into your hand and lift into Half Bow Pose. Then lift the opposite arm and leg in Half-Locust Pose. Stay for 5-10 breaths, then switch sides.
From your belly, lift both arms and legs into Locust Pose. This pose strengthens the muscle that surrounds the back of the spine. You should inhale as you bring your arms together and spread your legs wide in an inverted Y position. Then exhale as you squeeze your elbows down to your ribs, bringing your arms into a W position, as you squeeze your legs together. Alternate between the two positions for 5-15 breaths.
After the stabilization and articulation exercises, we put them together. Lift to Boat Pose, but keep your knees bent and shin parallel to the floor. Every little and big muscle is engaged in this pose. It engages the transverse abdominals particularly well. Inhale at the center, then exhale to twist to one side. Keep your knees and feet in line. Inhale to center, then exhale to twist to the other side. Alternate until you do 5-15 rounds on each side.
Return to Boat Pose, shifting your weight to one side, balancing on your glutes. For a bigger challenge, stay in this position, inhale and lower to Half Listing Boat then exhale and pull back on to the center. Continue on one side for 5-10 breaths before repeating on the other side.
In Bridge Pose, while holding your hips high, cross one ankle over the other thigh. Inhale and lower your hips to hover just off the mat, then exhale and use your hamstrings to lift back starting height. Repeat 5-15 breaths on one side, then switch to the other side. You’ll get an outer hip and inner thigh stretch when you’re done!