How To Get Strong Core

How To Get Strong Core With Yoga?

Are you looking for ways to get strong core? Did you know that instead of doing sit-ups, practising yoga is one of the best ways to get strong core muscles? The best yoga poses to build the core also have some other health benefits for the body and the mind.

Yoga offers many health benefits, one of them being its fantastic ability for building strong core muscles. There are many different asanas that will help you build a strong core, both on novice and advanced level, but the ones that I have selected for this article, have additional benefits, which make them great for your body and mind.

What Are Core Musles?

core muscles

 

Our core does not only contain abs, but is rather a collection of muscles, including everything except your back and legs. The following are considered major core muscles:

  • Pelvic floor muscles
  • Transversus abdominal muscles
  • Multifidus
  • Both internal and external obliques
  • Longissimus thoracis
  • Diaphragm

These are the minor core muscles:

  • Lassimus dorsi
  • Gluteus maximus
  • Trapezius

How To Get Strong Core Practising Yoga

Strong core doesn’t only form a base for all the yoga poses, but it also makes a big difference in your whole life, offering great health benefits, as everything from walking, sitting, lifting and other sports activities become much easier.

Yoga offers ways to strengthen the core muscles, especially the deep core, which is difficult to strengthen with traditional sit-ups and back lifts among other typical gym exercises.

The three poses I present in this post are specifically chosen due to the exceptional benefits they offer both for your body and your mind.

Before starting the with the specific poses to build your core muscles, I suggest that you perform some surya namaskar, sun salututions, to warm up your muscles and practise your breathing. Besides surya namaskar also offers great benefit for your core.

Please note that these poses are for more advanced yoga practiser and if you are new to yoga, you should learn the correct alignment and breathing techniques by following one of the suggestions in my beginners guide.

Naukasana – Boat Pose

Naukasana is a Sanskrit word, that is comprised of two separate words: Nauka – Boat and Asana – Yoga pose.

This great pose doesn’t only strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles, but it also strengthens the hamstrings, spine and hip flexors! Besides it improves your balance.

Additionally it also improves your digestion, stimulates your intestines, kidneys and thyroids. For men it offers a unique sexual health benefit by benefiting the prostate glands.

Naukasana also offer mental benefits by offering stress relief and improves confidence.

Boat pose

How to Perform Naukasana

  1. Lie on your back, arms beside your body and feet together
  2. Breath in deeply
  3. Exhale and pull in your core, at the same time lift your chest and feet of the ground simultaneously.
  4. Stretch your hands and feet forward forming a V shape.
  5. Check your toes and fingers are in line.
  6. Breath deeply while you hold this pose unto 2mins
  7. Exhale and slowly return back to your mat

Variations

This pose has several variations, the side version of this pose is very good way of training your obliques.

Boat Pose Side

This pose becomes more effective, the longer you can hold it. Make sure you don’t hold your breath and if you move from one side to the other, make a stop in the centre on your way, only moving with the breath.

Pay attention to your form, keep your back straight and your shoulders pushed back. You can perform an easier version of this pose by keeping your legs bent from the knees, either on the ground or holding them in the air.

Sirsasana – Headstand

Sirsasana is a Sanskrit word, that is comprised of two separate words: Sirsa – Head and Asana – Yoga pose.

Headstand is a major core workout, you are using your core strength to control the movement of getting in and out of this pose, holding up your legs and keeping your balance. In fact it’s impossible to do this pose unless you poses enough core strength.

Besides strengthening your core, it also helps you to strengthen arms and shoulders. Additionally this pose also optimises the flow of nutrients to the neck and head, including eyes and scalp, hence helping to flush the adrenal glands, delivering extra oxygen and nutrients.

Sirsasana also improves digestion, relieves stress and increases focus!
headstand

How to Perform Sirsasana

There are many ways to perform headstand, advanced yogis and yoginis do not really think about getting into this pose and don’t necessarily perform all the step. However the way below is the easiest way to perform this pose in a controller matter.

  1. Sit in kneeling pose
  2. Bend forward and place the hands on the floor with fingers crossed, making a triangle with your arms.
  3. Place the top of the head between the fingers, hold it firmly.
  4. Move forward lifting your buttocks and thighs.
  5. Move the knees slightly inwards to your abdomen. Push on your hands and list the trunk and legs of of the ground.
  6. Lift the whole trunk further up untill it is perpendicular to the ground.  Now your weight is supported by the hands and your head.
  7. Lift and slowly move the legs from the front to the back. The legs will be hanging freely at the back. (the variation of this pose)
  8. Lift your legs up and aligning them with the rest of the body, making them perfectly vertical and putting your entire body weight on your arms and head.
  9. Stay in this position as long as possible breathing normally. Please note that you need some strength to get down as well.
  10. To return back to the ground bend the knees and lower the thighs bringing the thighs, bringing them close to the body.
  11. Drop the legs so that the toes touch the ground.
  12. Release the hand position and enter the child pose.
  13. Rest in child pose for 2 minutes.

Variations

There are several variations for the headstand, most famous being a supported headstand, either against a helper or a wall. This is beneficial for the beginners, who have not yet developed the strength to get into the this pose in controller fashion and holding it.

Some less known variations include the Salambasirsasana, a great way for a beginner to start a non supported headstand. It is also common to do movements with the legs, playing on the balance, while maintaining strong core and control of the movement.

head stand backbend

This variation is also a gateway to scorpion, much more advanced pose, including lifting the head forward and placing the hands in a different support position.

Phalakasana – Plank Pose

Phalakasana is a Sanskrit word, that is comprised of two separate words: Phalaka – Board and Asana – Yoga pose.

One of the best known core exercises, for good reason. It tones all the core muscles in your body, working the ones around spine very effectively. Additionally phalakasana gives a great workout for the chest, arms, wrists and shoulders, strengthening them for arm balances and more advanced poses.

This pose is absolutely amazing for your stamina and endurance. It does wonders to your nervous system, hence thereby bringing more balance into our lives.
Plank Pose

How to Perform Phalakasana

  1. Begin this pose on all fours.
  2. Tighten your core and spread your fingers, pushing your weight to your arms
  3. Step back with your feed and bring your body and head in a straight line.
  4. Don’t let hips sink by squeezing your buttocks.
  5. Breath normally and stay in this pose as long as you can

This pose can be performed in several ways, often all three are performed for the optimal benefit. The basic plank pose is part of Surya Namaskar and therefore performed as part of Ashtanga series and most vinyasa flows, as well as in Hatha yoga warm up routine.

It is also mentioned as one of the basic asanas in the famous yoga sutras by Patanjali.

Plank pose variationPlank variation

This pose looks easy, but it’s not, remember to not to hold your breath! You can start by performing this pose only for few minutes and advancing to 5 minutes at the time by trying to hold the pose few seconds longer every day.

It is better to stick your buttocks a little bit in the air, like seen in the picture with the lowest pose variation, than let them sink towards the ground. Maintain strong core at all times by pulling your belly bottom towards your spine.

The longer you hold this pose, more effective it becomes. The different ways of performing this pose make it more or less intensive on hands, arms and shoulders, but all of them work the core muscles very effectively.

Variations

This pose has massive amount of variations, one of the most common one being the side plank. This again has several variations, some of which can seen below, each with their own benefits and all beneficial for the core.

Side Plankside plankSide Plank

My Loving advice

Working on the core should be part of any well balanced exercise. Two of poses are not dynamic and therefore not part of vinyasa flows. They however for an important part of basic Hatha yoga practise.

It’s always good to rest in a child pose after performing intensive core exercises! It allow you to recuperate and recover your breathing.

child pose

There are many other poses, which work the core effectively and it’s always a good idea to vary your weekly practise. You should perform core exercises 3-5 times a week for the optimal benefits.

If you have enjoyed my article about how to get strong core, or have any question of these core exercise, their benefits or want to know more effective ways of working your core, leave me a comment below.

 

ॐ Love and Strength,

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20 thoughts on “How To Get Strong Core With Yoga?”

  1. Good Day!

    What a lovely article on yoga practice. I like yoga but I am a big guy so some of these positions are impossible for me to attempt. When I did yoga in the past it was the most sweat that had ever come off my body at one time.

    Guys don’t let yoga fool you, it is tough! Now I do a lot of swimming at my local fitness center. I was wondering if there was yoga for the pool? Obviously, I couldn’t do headstands in the pool but is there a set of core yoga stretches for a water workout?

    Thanks in advance

    Cheers

    1. Hi David, you are right, yoga is really tough! You can do yoga anywhere really to be honest. In my review about YDL you see my doing yoga in the sea, I often do some warrior variations in water. It is also easier to practise balance poses in water, simply because they are easier due to the resistance from the water and you don’t have to fear falling!

  2. Thanks for your post, I bet this yoga routine is key to solving our problems. My partner and i are desperate to lose weight, especially belly fat, simply because we wish to look slim plus attractive. Our doctor also says that as overweight people, we experience a variety of problems that can be instantly attributed to our excess weight and can reduce the severity of our illnesses simply by loosing weight. Do you have any more tips about weight loss?
    Having said that, we do realize that there are more benefits from yoga than just losing weight, we are really looking for a complete chance of lifestyle. Do you believe taking up yoga practise will help us?

    1. Hi Warren, I am happy you and your wife have decided to make a lifestyle chance to improve your overall life. Overweight causes a lot of health problems and yoga can certainly help you. I would also suggest that you take a look at my others articles which deal with weight loss:
      Honey Cinnamon cures introduces you to the wonderful weight loss and general health benefits of this ancient cure
      Infused Water Recipe with lime and ginger will boost your immune system and detoxify your body, which is needed in order to lose stubborn fat reserves
      Superfood Green Juice supplement that will give you all the benefits of juicing, but without the mess

  3. Simply awesome! I heard a lot of good things about the plank building the core, but it looked so simple and easy that I kept on dismissing it! Based on your article decide to finally give it a go. Now my abs are really hurting! Do you by any chance know any great natural recovery drinks?

  4. Hi There! Is the yoga plank exactly same as the one that is toted to be the best abs exercise? I have been participating in a plank challenge the last week and it is very hard, but I can already see the benefits.

    1. Hi Thomas, yes it is 🙂 Plank is extremely powerful exercise for training the abs and the whole core. Please try out the side variations as well!

  5. Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular post! I wonder how yoga compares to pilates which I have been practising for 5 years? Would I also benefit from doing yoga?

    1. Hi Holly, there are lot of similarities with yoga and pilates, but also differences.

      Pilates focuse on strength, muscle toning, flexibility and body control without the cardio part, with emphasis being core strength. Pilates needs to be practised on a regular basis for maximum benefit. I

      Yoga on the other hand focuses on all major muscle groups and flexibility. It also offers balance, strength, endurance, spirituality, and often but not always a cardio workout. Yoga classes can be anything from gentle and meditative to physically very challenging and sweaty. With all the different styles, there is something for everyone.

      So yes, you can also benefit greatly from starting a yoga practise as an addition to your pilates classes! You will find some similarities, but both your body and your mind will benefit from the differences.

  6. I have been focusing a lot more recently on body weight exercises rather than using weights in the gym and have noticed a significant improvement in results, however have found myself with a few aches and pains follwing workouts. My friend suggested yoga as a way of continuing to build my core but also improving mobility, which brought me to your site! As a sceptic i’ve tried these exercises and have to admit not only were they challenging but also felt really beneficial. I’m going to try to build these in as part of my routine – if there is anything else you would recommend, expecially focussing on my obliques, please let me know.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Mike, happy you found my site useful. I would start by doing both the blank and side blank. Both are very good static exercises that build core strength fast. As extra challenge try moving from the highest plank position to the lowest and back. So positions from my pictures: High-Med-Low-Med-High, repeat as many times as you can. It will give you an amazing workout that also helps you to loose weight.

  7. I have already bookmarked this site. As it is a confirmation that I need to go into yoga. For starters, I have been having a lot of aches in my lower back and hamstrings. I am 36, I work on my feet all day, and I walk a lot. I don’t have the greatest bed.

    It is all catching up to me and I have been talking about getting into Yoga, openly, for about 3 weeks. Recently, I bought an ab roller because I’ve been wanting to work on my abs.

    So, in other words, this post was exactly what I needed to read. It was very informative and you gave me all that I need to start taking action. For some of the advanced poses, I may wait on that, but the planks and the mindset … I thank you for sharing this.

    1. Hi Shonna, you are most welcome! Ab roller will not really do much I’m afraid, but just by doing planks daily you will for sure make a big difference to your core stength in very short time. Strong core is key to healthy back, as are stretches. Try doing the childs pose, it’s great for back problems. As are cat/cow poses. I think I will write an article about yoga for back next week.

  8. Very simple and easy to follow! I’ve wanted to get into yoga for a while now, and this seems like the perfect place to start.
    The instructions are very clear. I’ve heard strengthening your core and increasing your flexibility are the beginning steps, so this is great for a newbie like me!

    1. Hi Ally, yes, core strength is very important in yoga. Both plank and boat are good beginner poses to strengthen the core!

  9. Hello, I just love yoga because it can be practised easily at home and there’s no need to have any equipment. Before reading your article I didn’t know that we can build core muscles with it. The Boat pose and the Plank pose are great but the headstand is too challenging, I don’t dare to try it because it seems I may break my neck. Thanks for the good read and the useful poses, will try at home 🙂

    1. Hi there, thank you for your feedback. Yoga is great for building core strength! Headstand is challenging and should only be practised in the presence of a yoga instructor. It does however offer huge benefits, so in the long term it’s worth it.

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