I started teaching yoga long before any talk of ‘core stabilization’ ever occurred. In those days, we just struggled with each pose until we nailed it. Sometimes, depending on the pose, that took awhile.
Now as practitioners and teachers, we can use this core stabilization concept to consciously activate the trunk of the body as well as the legs to create strength in a pose quicker and save ourselves months or years of floundering around trying to find the right actions to employ.
This little plug ‘n play Vinyasa Short is a short sequence that can help you learn how to do that. (You can find other Vinyasa Shorts on our Blissful Yogini YouTube channel.)
What’s really key here—and one of the beauties of a vinyasa practice—is that this sequence invites you to find stability QUICKLY (or perish in a heap on the mat ?).
In order to do that, here are the steps:
- Firming up the legs is important…imagine drawing them towards the centerline of the body, without actually moving them.
- Using that inward-drawing energy to now pull upwards through the bandhas (or the center of the body, if you’re not familiar with the bandhas).
- Follow that by pulling down on the shoulders using the lats and then keeping the muscles that wrap the trunk (the “core muscles”) energized and activated.
I have this cool app on my iPad (“MB Anatomy”) that clearly shows some of these trunk muscles.
The rectus abdominis are involved in flexing and rotating the spine. You’ll want to draw these in towards the spine and slightly upward.
The external obliques assist those movements.
And the latissimus dorsi (the “lats”) help to stabilize and internally rotate the shoulder and upper back muscles when drawn down.
There are plenty of other muscles that work in concert with these to create trunk stability.
If you want to explore this concept further, you simply MUST visit Ray Long’s awesome blog, DailyBandha.com…such a great resource!
You’ll also want to check out Yoga Teacher Central, one of my all-time favorites for yoga teachers. By subscribing to this treasure trove of resources you’ll get a deeper understanding about how to strengthen the core. This graphic illustrates two additional muscles group that help to stabilize the trunk: the erector spinae and the transversus abdominis.
Believe it or not, there are even more muscles involved than those mentioned, so this is a BIG topic!
A Vinyasa Short for more than just core stabilization
This Vinyasa Short challenges you and your students on many other levels—breath control, drishti while changing positions and mental focus. These poses are all ones you’ve done many times in the past…nothing new here. But when you string common poses together in interesting ways, sometimes magic happens.
These are the three main poses in this flow—anjenayasana, dighasana (vira bhadrasana III), garudasana. I’m using a simple transition of plank and downdog to get to the other side. You can, of course, modify this transition to be more vigorous if you prefer (i.e., chaturanga, updog, downdog).
Depending on your class demographic you can modify each move to suit different populations. Tania loves to use these sequences for Baby Boomers and seniors because it really challenges them to stay balanced while moving the body. Great for building confidence, balance and safety in older bodies.
Here’s the sequence, only 2:03 minutes (please pardon the messy hair…haha…I obviously need a stylist):
If you want more, head over to subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Enjoy sharing this sequence with your students, emphasizing (1) stabilizing the legs first, from there (2) drawing up the bandhas and then (3) mindfully ‘wrapping’ the muscles of the trunk around the spinal column.
We’d love your feedback and thoughts about this newest addition to our YouTube channel. Mahalo and keep breathing!
P.S. Use this link to get 10% off any membership at Yoga Teacher Central. Such a deal.
New to teaching? Check out Rupali’s Transform Your Yoga Teaching: The 5 Essential Elements of Teaching an Awesome Yoga Class for an easy-to-follow system of constructing your classes that will deliver a rich experience for both you and your students EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Our über-unique online course, Demystifying the Elusive Bandhas, is now available…the most complete course on the three main bandhas, it covers how to do each one, how to teach them, the benefits and many additional bonuses for working with the energy of the body. Check it out here.