Core exercises should form part of any well-balanced fitness regime, and are especially important for yoga. A strong core helps you control your body position better as you hold and move through poses, provides support in twisted positions, and can help improve power in stronger poses.
A strong core isn't just important for yoga – it's vital for athletes of all kinds, and will help you in your day-to-day life too. Core strength is key in maintaining a healthy posture (if you want to make sure you don't undo all your good work overnight, here are the best and worst sleep positions), and can help you avoid muscular injury and back pain.
When we talk about the core, we mean all the muscles around your trunk and pelvis. The below exercise uses minimal equipment, and is simple to understand but when I tried it out I found it was much trickier than it looks – it takes a lot of control and stability to do it properly. All you need is one yoga block – you don't even need a yoga mat, although some clingy yoga pants might help you keep an eye on what your hips are doing.
This move is more about improving core control than getting you a six-pack – if it's more extreme toning effects you're after, try these some abs exercises instead.
This tip comes from Erin Motz (@badyogiofficial). It works as follows:
- Place your yoga brick flat on the floor on its lowest setting
- Stand straight with your left foot securely planted on the brick
- Hover your right foot, so that your two feet are level and your pelvis is stable
- Keeping your left knee straight, carefully drop the right foot and hip down towards the floor
- Next, slowly draw the right foot and hip up towards the ceiling, still keeping both knees straight
- Complete 8-10 reps on one leg
- Swap to the other leg and repeat
"If you want to strengthen the core, you've got to stabilise the pelvis," explains Erin. "This is perfect for loading the hips in a healthy way, keeping the pelvis stable, and also keeping the core nice and functionally strong."
Tried this and want to move on to some different exercises? Here are some great yoga poses for runners, some more designed to improve your ankle strength, and if you're ready to challenge yourself, these are three of the trickiest yoga poses to master.