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You already know that core strength is essential to your everyday life. A strong core—the muscles of your midsection, including your abdominals, obliques, and lower back—can maintain or improve your posture and allow you to continue to do the things you love with ease.
There’s also a psychological advantage to strengthening your core. Scientific research indicates that physical activity, including the types that make you feel physically strong, can enhance your self-esteem. This in turn alters the way you perceive the world, which changes the manner in which you show up to situations. As a result, your life changes.
This supports what many yoga teachers have experienced and observed, which is that cultivating a sense of inner strength can help you trust your inner wisdom in every situation, whether related to work or relationships. The confidence and shift in perspective you gain from feeling differently matters.
8 yoga poses for core strength and confidence
Start by practicing these yoga poses for core strength one at a time to discover how you respond and adapt to the strain. When you feel confident with the poses and the transitions in between them, you can turn it into a vinyasa practice by linking your movements with your breath. Try moving through it at a pace of one breath per movement.
Start with your preferred warm-ups and stretches. You may wish to include a few rounds of Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B.
1. Paripurna Navasana (Boat Pose)
Come to a seated position on the mat, bend your knees, and bring your feet to the mat. Lean back slightly to balance on your seat, place your hands behind your knees or on the backs of your thighs, and lift your heels to knee level with your lower legs parallel to the mat in Boat Pose. Keep your back straight and your gaze on your feet. Press your inner arches together and spread your toes. Stay here or straighten your arms. Draw your upper arm bones back and broaden across your chest. Engage your low belly and lift your chest toward the ceiling. Breathe.
See also: Boat Pose Made Easy
2. Plank Pose
From Boat Pose, cross your ankles, roll over your feet, and step back to Plank Pose with your feet hip-distance apart and your shoulders over your wrists. Press the base of your fingers into the mat, soften your thoracic spine (upper and middle back), and hug your thumbs toward the center of your mat. Extend your crown forward and reach your heels back. Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels and engage your low belly. If you like, you can try lifting one leg and hovering it above the mat or crossing at your ankles.) Breathe.
3. Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose)
From Plank Pose, start to shift your weight into your left hand and slowly roll to the left, coming onto the outer edge of your left foot and stacking your heels. Slowly lift your right arm straight toward the ceiling in Side Plank. Press down into your left hand, broaden across your chest, and reach a little higher with both your right hand and your hips. Lift your gaze to your right hand. Slowly roll back into Plank and remain here for 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
4. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
From Plank Pose, press your hips up and back into Downward-Facing Dog Pose. Push the tops of your thighs back as you bring your heels toward the floor in Downward-Facing Dog. Firm your shoulder blades against your back as you press through the base of your index fingers. You can walk it out here if you’d like by bending one knee and straightening the other.
5. Plank Pose with Knee to Arm
From Downward-Facing Dog, on an inhalation, lift your right leg into Three-Legged Dog. Keep both hip bones squared to the earth and lift from your inner right thigh. On an exhalation, move from core strength and shift your shoulders forward to touch your right knee to your right tricep. Engage your low belly and lift your knee high up toward your armpit. Then on your inhalation, press your right leg up and back to return to a Three-Legged Dog. Lengthen from your right wrist through your right heel. On your exhalation, shift forward and cross your right knee to your left elbow, keeping your navel drawing into your spine and squeezing your obliques. Inhale and lift back to Three-Legged Dog, lifting your right leg high.
6. High Lunge
From Three-Legged Dog, on an exhalation, use your core strength and to draw your knee forward toward your nose and curl your upper back as you gracefully step your right foot beside your right thumb. Ground down through all four corners of your right foot. With your left foot planted, on your inhalation, lift your arms and chest in High Lunge. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor. Root down through your left foot, pulling your left heel toward the back of your mat and engaging your inner thighs. Press through your right heel. Set your gaze, or drishti, straight ahead.
Add a twist by drawing your hands to heart center, inhale, and lift your chest to meet your hands. Exhale and twist, hooking your left upper arm over your right thigh. Continue to use your breath, lengthening as you inhale, twisting as you exhale. Come back through High Lunge as you inhale and step back to Downward-Facing Dog. Switch sides and repeat, starting with Downward-Facing Dog.
7. Bakasana (Crow Pose or Crane Pose)
From Downward-Facing Dog, walk your feet toward your hands and come into a squat with your big toes together and your knees wide. Place your hands on the mat, shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, bend your elbows, and lift your seat as you hug your knees against the backs of your arms, as close to your armpits as you can manage. Keep your gaze forward in front of your fingers as you shift your weight forward and start to lift your feet in Bakasana. Press the inner arches of your feet together and awaken your toes to engage your core. Step back to Downward-Facing Dog.
8. Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist)
From Downward-Facing Dog, lower your knees to the mat, untuck your toes, and make your way to your back. Lie down and draw your knees into your chest. Extend your arms straight out from your shoulders and lower your knees to the left as you turn your head to gaze over your right shoulder. Inhale and breathe into your side body. Exhale and draw your navel back toward your spine. Slowly come through center and repeat on the other side.