While you may think about your core on the mat, how often do you consider the work of the core in everyday life? As a mother of a 70-pound four-year-old (he has a very tall father!), I can attest to the importance of full-body strength and mobility. You use your rotational core every single day for basic movement. Those muscles that make up the front, side, and back of your core allow you to flex, extend, and twist. They play a role in everything from carrying groceries home from the farmer’s market to picking up dog poop. The great news is that incorporating the following five moves into your daily yoga practice will strengthen them to help you maintain a strong and flexible spine.
See also Poses for Abs
5 Everyday Strong-Core Yoga Moves
Begin on all fours bringing your hands directly under your shoulders and spreading your fingers wide, rooting into all parts of the hands and finger pads. Press the fronts of the shin bones and the tops of the feet down while spreading all 10 toes onto the mat. Draw the navel in and up gently so as to find a neutral spine. On your inhale lengthen the heart forward between the gateway of the upper arm bones while opening the throat and broadening the collarbones. On your exhale begin to hollow out the belly and round the upper back, protracting the shoulder blades and keeping your arms bones hugging toward the midline. Avoid overarching the lumbar spine by keeping a strong focus on your navel drawing in and up in both the Cat and Cow movements. The tendency here is to collapse the low back to get more of a visual backbend in the upper spine however that results in compression of the sensitive lumbar spine.
After a couple rounds, challenge your core: In Cat Pose actively press the mat away, allowing the upper back to round and shoulders to protract. Draw the navel in and up lifting the kneecaps off the mat about 1–2 inches. Spread through all 10 toes and press the tops of the feet into the mat as you would do for Upward-Facing Dog.
See also 12-Minute Core Strength Sequence (for Real People)