Core strength is fundamental to most body movements with particular reference to sport and exercise. Yoga helps develop core strength through organizing your body to hold and move by using body weight exercises. The breathing techniques used in yoga play a big part in the development of core strength through yoga practice.
Imagine your torso to be like a cylinder, as you inhale it gets softer expands and gets longer. So when you breathe out the pressure in the cylinder increases due to the lower volume of air. This compacts the body’s center of gravity and allows it to move as one unit instigated by the belly.
The core is not a specific muscle but a number of different muscles that support the spine and pelvis to provide balance and stability. These muscles must work together to achieve greater balance and support for the body when movements are being performed. Core muscles include the transverse and rectus abdominus, erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, iliocostalis and multifidus, longissimus, spinalis, quadratus laborum, external obliques, gluteus maximus and medius, hamstrings and rectus femoris.
There are recommended yoga exercises that help increase core strength. Chair Pose helps to build strength in the legs and core as you squat your body weight over your heels. Warrior 1 opens the front of the body extending the spine helping to build strength and balance. The Dolphin Pose awakens the front of the body whilst building shoulder strength. Not to be confused with the Dolphin Plank that fires the muscles at the front of the body as your core lifts you up to support the spine.
On the subject of planks the Side Plank variations will work the flank muscles as they activate to the lift the body. The regular plank activates the shoulders at the back of the core and grip on to the spine to support the back. The Boat Pose engages the deeper muscles of the abdomen that help with posture and stability.
By incorporating certain poses in your yoga sequences you will improve core strength. Most movements start with the core and having a strong and stable core is vitally important for everyday movements such as walking to more advanced movements used in sports performance. The better your core strength and stability the less fatiguing everyday actions are and the greater your sports performances will be.