Core Yoga Poses

Marjaryasana (Cat Pose)

Start on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes looking at the floor.

As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders and knees in position. Release your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.

Inhale, coming back to neutral “tabletop” position on your hands and knees.

This pose is often paired with Cow Pose on the inhale for a gentle, flowing vinyasa.

Dolphin Pose

Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your forearms on the floor with your shoulders directly above your wrists. Firmly press your palms together and your forearms into the floor.

Curl your toes under, then exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis. Against this resistance, lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling, and from your inner ankles draw the inner legs up into the groins.

Continue to press the forearms actively into the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them away from the spine and draw them toward the tailbone. Hold your head between the upper arms; don’t let it hang or press heavily against the floor.

You can straighten your knees if you like, but if your upper back rounds it’s best to keep them bent. Continue to lengthen your tailbone away from the pelvis and lift the top of your sternum away from the floor.

Stay between 30 seconds to one minute. Then release your knees to the floor with an exhale.

 

Plank Pose

Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana. Then inhale and draw your torso forward until the arms are perpendicular to the floor and the shoulders directly over the wrists, torso parallel to the floor.

Press your outer arms inward and firm the bases of your index fingers into the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then spread them away from the spine. Also spread your collarbones away from the sternum.

Press your front thighs up toward the ceiling, but resist your tailbone toward the floor as you lengthen it toward the heels. Lift the base of the skull away from the back of the neck and look straight down at the floor, keeping the throat and eyes soft.

Plank Pose is one of the positions in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. You can also perform this pose by itself and stay anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)

Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Press your hands on the floor a little behind your hips, fingers pointing toward the feet, and strengthen the arms. Lift through the top of the sternum and lean back slightly. As you do this make sure your back doesn’t round; continue to lengthen the front of your torso between the pubis and top sternum. Sit on the “tripod” of your two sitting bones and tailbone.

Exhale and bend your knees, then lift your feet off the floor, so that the thighs are angled about 45-50 degrees relative to the floor. Lengthen your tailbone into the floor and lift your pubis toward your navel. If possible, slowly straighten your knees, raising the tips of your toes slightly above the level of your eyes. If this isn’t possible remain with your knees bent, perhaps lifting the shins parallel to the floor.

Stretch your arms alongside the legs, parallel to each other and the floor. Spread the shoulder blades across your back and reach strongly out through the fingers. If this isn’t possible, keep the hands on the floor beside your hips or hold on to the backs of your thighs.

While the lower belly should be firm, it shouldn’t get hard and thick. Try to keep the lower belly relatively flat. Press the heads of the thigh bones toward the floor to help anchor the pose and lift the top sternum. Breathe easily. Tip the chin slightly toward the sternum so the base of the skull lifts lightly away from the back of the neck.

At first stay in the pose for 10-20 seconds. Gradually increase the time of your stay to 1 minute. Release the legs with an exhalation and sit upright on an inhalation.

Anantasana (Side-Reclining Leg Lift)

Lie on the floor on your right. Press actively through your right heel, flex the ankle, and use the outside of the foot to stabilize the position (if you still feel unstable, brace your soles against the wall.)

Stretch your right arm straight out along the floor parallel to your torso, so that you create one long line from the heels to your finger tips. Bend your right elbow and support your head in your palm. Slide the elbow away from your torso to stretch the armpit.

Externally rotate your left leg so the toes point toward the ceiling, then bend and draw the knee toward your torso. Reach across the inside of the leg and take hold of the left big toe with your index and middle fingers. Secure the grip by wrapping the thumb around the two fingers. (If you’re not able to comfortably hold the toe, loop a strap around the sole and hold the strap.) On an inhale, extend the leg up toward the ceiling.

The raised leg will likely angle slightly forward, while the top buttock will drop back. Firm the sacrum against the pelvis; this creates a kind of fulcrum that will help you move the leg slightly back toward a perpendicular position.

Press actively through both heels. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release the leg, take a few breaths, and roll over onto your left side. Repeat for the same length of time.

 

One thought on “Core Yoga Poses

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