Hardcore Yoga: 5 Core Strengtheners to Help You Invert
When one hears the word “yoga,” certain staple describers come to mind: “flexibility,” “zen-ness,” “enlightenment,” and “vegan.” But yoga is also a lot about strength and your engaging your core. If you’re working on your handstand, like I am, or on your headstand, or any other pose that involves inversions, do three sets of each pose three times a week minimum!
1. Knee-to-nose (into Eka Pada Koundinyāsana):
Starting in downward facing dog, inhale and bring your right knee to touch your nose. On your exhale bring it back up, and on the next inhale, bring it to your right bicep. From here, you may choose to take the arm balance of Eka Pada Koundinyāsana I (picture below).
Exhale and bring the leg back out. Inhale and bring your right knee to your left bicep. Again, you may want to take the arm balance of Eka Pada Koundinyāsana II (picture below). In both variations, all you have to do is look forward, shift your weight forward, and begin to play with lifting the back leg so you’re ultimately floating.
2. Boat pose
In all my yoga classes, I do ten of these. Starting on your back, inhale up into boat pose (keeping the chest lifted and the arms and legs as straight as possible). On the exhale, you lower down and hover two inches off the floor. Inhale, come up and repeat.
3. Dolphin pose
Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Lift your hips up into a downward dog. From here, lower down onto your forearms. Continue to press actively through your forearms into the floor.
4. Forearm Plank (with optional oblique variation)
From your hands and knees, place your forearms on the floor. Your shoulders should be over your elbows and your palms should be faced down. Digging your toes into the floor, lift everything off the floor, maintaining a straight back. Gaze forward and make sure you lengthen out through the crown of your head. Rock your hips side to side to work on your obliques.
5. Three-Legged Downward Dog
From downward facing dog, draw one leg up. Holding this pose with the leg-up variation will definitely have your tummy feeling the burn.