Core. Core. Core. No matter what you do, your core is everything! If your stomach is in shape the rest of your body can’t help but follow.
Engaging your core properly involves a series of subtle movements and understandings. First and foremost, practice! Challenge yourself to choose (and stick with) a sequence you will do most days. There is no shortcut to building muscle awareness.
In yoga, the core is both an energetic and physical space of focus. According to Desirée Rumbaugh, a senior Anusara teacher, the core "is what supports us spiritually in our lives, and physically in our yoga practice. If our core is weak, the ups and downs of life are much harder to take. A strong core makes us more resilient." Even 5min to fire up your abs will leave you feeling more empowered physically and energetically. It is quite literally, the center of good grit in the body.
There are several distinct muscles groups that work together for a healthy connection to your core. We look at an overview of each below and specific exercise for each in posts to come.
It bears mentioning that combined with strength, yoga teaches us the core is deeply connected to breath and suppleness in the body. It should be toned and lean but not tight. The goal isn't ripped abs but rather long, lean and toned abs. Breath work and flexibility are just as important. Interestingly, the 'six pack' look has as much to do with your skin density as anything else. Thinner skin makes abs much more visible giving the 6 pack illusion. Thicker skin (which ages better!) provides more coverage over the muscles making them less obvious.
Finally, there is no conversation about core without a mention of diet. Core exercises all day, every day will not change the appearance of your belly without an equal focus on maintaining a healthy diet. Those taut abs may well be there just hiding under an extra layer of tummy padding! From our experience, core awareness is inspiring in that it combines inner and outward physical focus informing the rest of well being. A combined focus on breath, posture and better awareness of fullness all work together to create a 'magical' lightness of being inside and out.