And it's not about working on your abs! For some the relationship to our 'core' can feel like a mythical notion or as I have heard so often "I just don't have one!" Firstly let's get out of the way what your core isn't ~ it is not the appearance or firmness of abs, nor something you strengthen doing sit-ups (nor anything else where your spine is flexing forwards), nor doing backbends (where your spine is arching backwards), nor when you're pulling navel to spine, nor clenching your butt or twisting and rotating the spine in any way. Feeling the lack of strength in your core is directly impacted by how you feel emotionally and mentally (depleted, lacking confidence, courage, will power, personal drive) AND vice versa, by strengthening your true core you feel more empowered and strengthened emotionally and mentally. However, unlike popular belief, it is not necessarily strengthened by intense exercise. The 4 sure things that will give you a great CORE are;
Improve your Functional Breathing ~ your true core consists of Pelvic Floor, Diaphragm, Transverse Abdominus + Multifidis muscles (which also happen to be your breathing muscles). Visualise an apple core - On the exhale you are shaped like an apple eaten to the core; the pelvic floor contracts up through your base and diaphragm rebounds like mushroom shape into chest cavity and abdominals pull in giving an hourglass shape. On the inhale you look like a full round and untouched apple; as the diaphragm contracts downwards pushing out front, back and sides, the abdominal cavity is pressed down and pelvic floor catches the organs like a little mini-trampoline. Watch video below for an epic animated visual of this which you can never unsee!
Correcting your posture by balancing the muscles which support your true core muscles mentioned above. ie balance of strength and flexibility of Hamstrings vs Quadriceps, Glutes vs Hip Flexors (Psoas), Six Pack muscle vs Spinal Muscles, left vs right Obliques and spinal rotation muscles, chest muscles vs mid-back, front of shoulder vs back of shoulder (ie rotator cuffs in balance). This will help stabilise the carriage of the head above rib cage above pelvic bowl and natural spinal curves.
Loading/challenging the body whilst in Neutral Spine with functional breathing. All these muscle pairs above move us out of neutral spine + pelvis when one is contracted. Our true core is most effective when in neutral. eg Plank Pose, Cat balance, Yogalates core work, Warrior III, Chair pose + squats.
Manage your stress levels and emotional state of being ~ all of the above mentioned is rendered useless until we have either reduced stress or learnt how to manage it and find emotional stability. Our body is a reflection of our state of mind. We cannot reach peak physical strength if we are mentally and emotionally depleted. Meditation, breathwork and mindset tools set us in good stead for a strong CORE of Self.
Awareness is key! You will find listed below practices in your Included Content library on your Monthly Membership which will support your strong + supple CORE.
Namaste, Nic Whiteman
My favourite Core Awareness practices:
Core Setup 1, 2 & 3- especially Core Functional Breathing to retrain any incorrect breathing habits
Core Series I - Breathing Core into Plank plank is often performed losing neutral spine which reduces endurance in the pose and core activation
All classes under Class Type; Core Series and Yogalates classes will focus on loading and challenging your core whilst in neutral spine
Finding Core in your Yoga the ultimate balance of strength and flexibility
Loving My Lower Back I - balances the supporting, external muscles to help maintain neutral spine and pelvis in posture
Purna Breathwork - supports correct functional breathing, also known as 3-part breath
Express FPPs - an express version of Core Setup 3 Functional Pelvic Patterns to improve internal core/pelvic floor tone, reducing external supporting muscles over compensating
Core Awareness video - learn what your 'true core' is includes an animated version of correct core breathing is that you will never be able to unsee!