Strong Core Encore!
Let's strengthen our tummies!
If you missed the first post in this series, check it out here.
There are so many different approaches we can take to create a strong core. This series focuses a little more on the front tummy muscles - the Rectus Abdominis. Otherwise known as those 6 pack abs. Click here for the yoga poses that focus on the side and 'girdle' tummy muscles (oblique and transverse).
Ultimately the goal is to create harmony. Balance between strength and softness. Effort and Surrender. Equanimity - the path of the middle.
If you have ever canoed with someone, it becomes clear very quickly that a harmony and rhythm must be found. Or you could end up going round and round in circles. Or one person feels like they're doing all the work. Maybe one person just isn't steering in the right direction. I've heard relationships are made or destroyed when it comes to paddling!
Where in your life might you be paddling a little too vigorously?
Or maybe you threw the paddle away a long time ago and have decided to just float for a while.
How much fun would it be to guide our boats into the current and paddle with the flow?
Join me for a little Row, Row, Row Your Boat. I promise I won't make you sing it in rounds. :)
Navasana Modified - Boat Pose
Tip #1 - Wear a Life Preserver
There's taking leaps of faith and then there's just being silly. Take precautions and make educated choices.
Let's get those tummy muscles firing.
With hands behind hips, legs bent, feet on floor.
Bend the elbows a little, draw the shoulder blades towards each other and down your back.
Press down through the hands and lift up through the heart.
Lean back a little onto your hands, drawing the belly in and up.
Breathe and make sure your back and neck feel ok. If they don't come out of the pose.
If you are ok, breathing, and smiling. Hold the back of your thighs and press hands and thighs into one another. Continue to lift up through the chest.
Test the waters, come up to your tip toes and maybe lift one foot, two foot :) away from the ground. ("One foot, two foot, red fish, blue fish." Any guesses? Let me know in the comments below.)
Keep pressing the backs of the thighs into the hands, while hands meet the resistance. Continue to lift up through the chest and draw shoulder blades towards one another.
If you're still doing ok, stretch both legs straight. Pressing legs and hands into one another.
Navasana - Boat Pose
Tip #2 - Just keep rowing......
"Courage starts with just showing up and letting ourselves be seen." - Brene Brown
- If you made it through the previous pose with flying colors and feel good, try this one.
Like in Tip #1, seated, legs bent, hands behind you, lean back.
Engage the belly, legs bent, lift the feet away from the floor.
This time your arms are alongside your legs, not touching.
Draw the arms into socket and the shoulder blades down your back.
Gaze towards your toes.
If you are doing ok, stretch both legs straight. The legs may shake, that's ok. It's not ok if you feel pain in the neck or back - so come out of the pose.
Hug the legs towards each other and lengthen them
Navasana with Block - Boat Pose
Tip #3 - It's Only Water.
There's always a clown in the boat who thinks that it would be, oh so much fun to use their paddle as a water launcher. After the initial shock of cold water sliding down the back of your neck, laugh, because you have a paddle too :) Two can play at this game.
Grab a block or full tissue box.
Like Tip #1, legs bent, lean back.
Place that block between your inner thighs and squeeze ;)
Arms extend, parallel to the floor. Draw the arms into the sockets, draw shoulder blades towards each other and down the back.
Draw the belly in and up.
If you're ok, legs remain steady, feet on floor, thighs squeezing block, and then slowly turn your torso arms and head a little to the right.
Come back to center.
Try the other side.
If you are just having a blast, legs bent, lift the feet off the ground and repeat steps 4-8.
If you are that clown in the boat, and you are doing ok, stretch both legs straight and repeat steps 4-8.
Ardha Navasana Variations - Half Boat Variations
Tip #4 - Cue the Jaws Theme
What would swimming be like without Marco Polo and a hand for a shark fin? Yes, I have done the hand by head and swam after my brothers.
- Lying down on your back, arms alongside the body, head and legs on the ground.
Lift your right leg to 90 degrees.
Draw the lower belly in and up.
If you're doing ok, engage the upper belly and lift the shoulder blades, head, and arms off the floor.
Spice it up and lift that bottom leg a few inches off the floor.
Breathe and sing the Jaw's theme. ;)
Ardha Navasana - Half Boat
Tip #5 - Hello Water Slides!
No more getting stuck on those plastic water slides at the water park. Or does that just happen to me?
- Lying down on your back, engage your belly.
Arms stay alongside the body on the ground, slowly lift the head.
If you're doing ok, keep engaging that belly and lift the shoulder blades and arms off the floor.
Still breathing? Try lifting your legs off the floor.
Take a breath and slowly release.
For a little greater challenge, place your fingertips behind your head. Keep drawing shoulder blades towards each other. This is usually a little tougher to do than arms straight. Remember: Never pull on the head or neck. If you're neck or lower back are unhappy, most likely you're not firing your abs. Come out of the pose.