With summer quickly approaching the beautiful northwest, many are setting aside time in their routine to be beach body ready. And while rocking a toned tummy this summer wouldn’t be so bad while cruising the boardwalk, it isn’t the only reason to power up your core. A strong core can help to reduce risk of injury through core stability, help to support your spine, and improve your overall bodily control and balance.

This powerful 4-week progressive series will help build overall core strength and control. We will start the month with core stabilizing poses then work our way through invigorating strengthening sequences. You’ll be sure to feel core light!

  • Week 1: Stabilize
  • Week 2: Endure
  • Week 3: Fire
  • Week 4: Balance

Strengthen Your Core Week 1:  Stabilize

Our goal for this week is to set the base for our practice. The set of poses for this week aim to stabilize and strengthen our core. Repeat this sequence daily as we build strength for our core flow sequence next week.

Cat/Cow
  1. Start in table top position, take a moment to find yourself on your mat. Ensure that the shoulders are aligned over the wrist, hips over knees.
  2. As you inhale, press the mat away from you as you lift your chest and tailbone towards the sky. Let the belly sink towards the earth. Lift your head to look forward. You are now in Cow Pose.
  3. As you exhale, round the spine, continue pressing the mat away as you tuck the chin towards your chest and tailbone in. Keep the belly drawn in and spine curved towards the sky. You are now in Cat Pose.
  4. Repeat this sequence 3 – 5 times.
Diana Ra in Cow Pose
Cow Pose
Diana Ra in Cat Pose
Cat Pose
Cat and Cow Crunches
  1. As we build onto our cat/cow sequence, start again in table top. Extend your left arm forward in alignment with your shoulder. Extend the opposite right leg back in alignment with your hip. Keep your belly drawn as we hold in our balance for a few breaths.
  2. As you exhale, begin to curl the spin back into cat pose while simultaneously bending the elbow and drawing the knee and elbow to touch beneath your belly. Keep your belly drawn throughout.
  3. On the next inhale, re-extend the limbs to meet back in extended table top.
  4. Repeat steps 1 – 3 for 10 breaths, being sure to sync your breath to your movements.
  5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 on the opposing limbs.
Core Yoga Series-25
Extended Table Top
Core Yoga Series-26
Cat Crunch (Knee to Elbow)
Boat Pose (Navasana)
  1. Sit on your mat with your legs extended forward in a comfortable seat. Draw your belly in to protect your lower spine as you begin to lift through the top of your sternum and lean back from your seat (feel free to place your hands on your mat for support). Make sure your spine doesn’t round as you lean back. Keep the chest moving forward in Navasana.
  2. Begin to balance on the seat of your two sitting bones and tailbone as you lift your feet from your mat. Keep your belly drawn as you exhale and draw your feel to half-mast (knee level). Option to extend legs into full boat.
  3. Draw your arms to shoulders level as you hold your pose. Hold for 5 – 10 full breaths.
Diana Ra in Boat Pose Navasana
Navasana or Boat Pose
Boat Twists
  1. From boat pose, draw your hands together.
  2. Keep your form steady as you exhale and twist your upper body to the right. Extend and reach your hands to touch the right side of your mat.
  3. Inhale as you come back to center, then repeat the twist (step 2) to the opposite side.
  4. Repeat twists 10 sides to each side.
Diana Ra in Twisted Boat or Navasana
Twisted Boat or Navasana
Dolphin Plank
  1. Lie on your belly with your elbows directly under your wrists and your feet hips width apart.
  2. Brace your core and shift your weight onto your forearms and toes. Lift your hips off of your mat and hold. Image a long line extending from your shoulders to your heels as your breath through your Dolphin Plank.
  3. Hold the pose for 5 – 10 breaths.
  4. Option to hold plank on your knees as needed.
Diana Ra in Dolphin Plank Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Side Dolphin Planks
  1. From Dolphin Plank, begin to shift to the right side of your body; shifting your weight onto your right forearm and the knife’s edge of your right foot.
  2. Keep your core tight and hips lifted as you extend your left arm towards the sky.
  3. Hold the post for 5 – 10 breaths.
Diana Ra in Side Plank
Side Plank
Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
  1. Lie on your belly and forearms with your elbows bent and placed directly underneath the shoulders.
  2. As you inhale, lift your upper torso and head away from the floor in a slight upper back backbend.
  3. Use the traction from the arms to lengthen through the belly and lower back. Hold the pose for 5 – 10 breaths.
Diana Ra in Sphinx Pose
Sphinx Pose or Salamba Bujhangasana

Strengthen Your Core Week 2:  Endure

This week is all about building endurance. We’ve set our base last week with core stabilization poses, now we can really work on building onto our poses.

Plank Crunches
  1. Start in high plank position: Ensure that the shoulders are aligned over the wrists, and spread your fingers as you press down onto your knuckles and palm. Distribute the weight evenly across your hands (grounding of the 4 corners of your hand). Keep your legs straight with your toes tucked under your feet and facing forward. Imagine a long line extending from your head to your heels which keeps your abdomen, legs, and bottom engaged. Draw power in your plank and breath, take a moment to find your base.
  2. As you exhale, engage your pelvic floor to stabilize yourself, then begin to lift your right leg up and back. Draw power in your balance.
  3. As you inhale, extend your left arm up and forward, continue pressing the mat away and engaging your pelvic floor as you balance.
  4. Once you’ve found stability, exhale as you begin to round your spine while keep your core engaged. Bend your elbow and knee to touch beneath your belly. Keep your belly drawn throughout.
  5. On the next inhale, re-extend the limb.
  6. Repeat this sequence for 3 – 5 reps, then engage on the opposing limbs.
Core Yoga Series-32
Plank Crunches: Extended Opposite Arm and Leg
Core Yoga Series-33
Plank Crunches: Opposite Knee to Elbow
Side Plank Crunches
  1. As we build onto our plank sequence, start again in high plank. Keep your pelvic floor engaged and abs flexed. As you begin to exhale, shift your weight onto your right palm and extend your left arm towards the sky. Turn your right foot onto its knifes edge as you stack the left side of the body over the right. Hips and shoulders should be stacked directly on top of one another.
  2. Extend your left forearm over your ear as you inhale. As you exhale, simultaneously bend the elbow and knee to touch. Keep your belly drawn throughout.
  3. On the next inhale, re-extend the limbs.
  4. Repeat this sequence 3 – 5 times, then repeat on the opposite side.
Core Yoga Series-16
Side Plank with Extended Arm to Front
Core Yoga Series-17
Side Plank Elbow to Knee
Dolphin Plank and Legs In + Out
  1. Lie on your belly with your elbows directly under your wrists and your feet hips width apart.
  2. Brace your core and shift your weight onto your forearms and toes. Lift your hips off of your mat and hold. Image a long line extending from your shoulders to your heels as your breath through your plank.
  3. As you exhale, jump your feet past hips width and hold your plank. Your feet will be wide and possibly land off the mat.
  4. On your next inhale, jump your feet back together onto your mat at hips width.
  5. Repeat for 5 – 10 breaths, keeping your core engaged throughout.
Core Yoga Series-34
Dolphin Plank Pose
Eagle (Garudasana) Crunches
  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and cross your left leg over your right (if you can, attempt to tuck the right foot behind the left calf).
  2. In similar fashion, cross your arms with your left arm on top of your right (if you can, attempt to have the forearms cross and palms meet).
  3. Engage pelvic muscles on your next breath in and on your exhale, bend your knees and elbows to touch. Lift your chest and engage your core as your knees and elbows meet.
  4. On your next breath in, lie back and extend your limbs back in neutral position.
  5. Repeat for 5 – 10 breaths.
Core Yoga Series-18
Supine Garudasana Arms and Legs
Core Yoga Series-19
Bring the Elbows and Knees to Touch in Supine Garudasana

Strengthen Your Core Week 3:  Fire

Let’s add some fire to our practice! This week will focus on really strengthening our core through movement. Think of this as a flowing power sequence. Feel free to take a Vinyasa between each of these poses to add some heat to this sequence.

Extended Chair Pose to Airplane Arms
  1. Stand tall with your toes and knees together. Inhale as you raise your arms and as you exhale, bend your knees and sit back into Extended Chair Pose.
  2. Take a breath in your Extended Chair Pose and as you exhale, engage your pelvic muscles as you lower your upper body towards the earth and extend both arms behind you.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for 5 breaths.
diana-ra-ukatasana-chair-pose-to-extended-airplane-pose
Ukatasana (Chair Pose) to Extended Chair Pose with Airplane Arms
Knee to Nose Core Flow
  1. From Downward Facing Dog, extend your right leg into 3-Legged Dog. Ensure your hips and shoulders are square.
  2. Exhale and engage your pelvic muscles as you roll your body forward. As you begin to shift your shoulders over your wrists into plank, round your back and tuck your chin as bring your knee towards your nose.
  3. Inhale and extend your leg back into 3-Legged Dog.
  4. This time, exhale as you begin to shift your shoulders over your wrists into plank and draw your right knee to the outside of your right elbow, engaging the outer oblique muscles. Keep your hips lifted throughout and core engaged.
  5. Inhale and extend your leg back into 3-Legged Dog.
  6. On this final engagement, exhale as you begin to shift your shoulders over your wrists into plank and draw your right knee across your body towards the left elbow. Keep your hips lifted throughout and core engaged.
  7. Inhale and extend your leg back into 3-Legged Dog.
  8. Repeat steps 1 – 7 with the opposite leg.

diana-ra-3-legged-dog-to-knee-to-nose

High Lunge with a Kick
  1. From your Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot between your hands with the knee directly over the ankle. Tuck your back toes under your foot and straighten your back leg into High Lunge. Ensure your hips and shoulders are square as your raise your arms above your head. Hold your pose.
  2. Exhale and begin to shift your weight onto your right foot as you kick your back left leg forward. Engage your core for balance as you extend your left leg in front of your and draw your hands towards your sides for balance.
  3. Inhale and draw the left leg back into High Lunge.
  4. Repeat steps 1 – 3 for 5 breaths.
  5. Repeat this sequence on your left side.
anjaneyasana-crescent-lunge-kicks-yoga-diana-ra
Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana) into One Legged Kicks

 

Strengthen Your Core Week 4:  Balance

Our practice so far has been building us up for this challenge. We’ve engaged in poses to stabilize our core, built our endurance with level 2 core stabilizing poses, added a little heat with a fire sequence, and now we will finish strong with balance! As with any balance pose we engage in, please proceed with caution. Listen to your body and move slowly through this practice. Feel free to also use a prop or wall for support as we engage.

Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
  1. Stand tall upright either on or off your mat. Take a few cleansing breaths to center yourself before your practice.
  2. As you inhale, lift your arms above your head and lace all but the index fingers. Draw your forearms just over the ears and relax the shoulders.
  3. As you exhale, step forward with your right leg while lifting the back left leg off the earth. Engage your pelvic muscles as you begin to draw your chest forward. Move forward until your body is parallel to the earth.
  4. Hold Warrior 3 for 5 breaths deep breaths, keeping the body stable and core engaged. Repeat on your other leg.
warrior III
Virabhadrasana III/Warrior III
Crane (Bakasana) to Headstand (Sirsasana)

Note: Feel free to practice this pose in front of a wall for support. As with any transitional balance pose, move slowly and with control. Try practicing both poses individually before attempting the transition.

  1. Come into a deep squat with your feet about hips-width apart
  2. Place your hands flat on the earth about shoulders-width apart with your fingers wide-spread. Ensure your elbows are drawn in to your sides (it helps to have your hands turned out slightly on the earth with your index fingers pointing straight ahead).
  3. Place your knees on your forearms and begin to shift your weight onto your arms one leg at a time (try to get your knees high above your arms. The deeper you are able to bed into your hips, the higher you’ll be able to take your knees).
  4. As you move forward, keep your neck lifted and take both toes off the earth into Crane. Hold for 5 breaths.
  5. As we make the transition to our Headstand, move with control and stability. Begin to round the spine and move the crown of the head towards the earth. Land into a tripod handstand with the crown of your head and both hands stabilizing your body.
  6. When you are able to find your balance in tripod headstand, exhale and begin to move your legs up towards the sky, keeping your core engaged and slowly un-rounding your spine.
  7. Hold in your headstand for 5 breaths.

crow-to-headstand-core-challenge

Headstand/Sirsasana Toe Taps
  1. From your headstand, keep your pelvic muscles engaged as you separate your legs. Hold your headstand with your legs separated.
  2. From your balance keep your core braced as you lower one leg at a time towards the earth to tap (for an additional challenge, see if you can tap your legs to the opposite side of your body).
  3. Tap each toe on the earth 5 times.
headstand-leg-lifts-core-challenge
Headstand/Sirsasana Leg Lifts

All images are provided by Sukha Design & Photography.


Interested in more content like this? Get social with us:
 

 

Diana Ratsamee

Diana took her first yoga class at the age of 16 and from there, she quickly fell in love with the compassion, kindness, energy, and confidence she gained from yoga. What began as a means to get fit turned into a lifelong passion. Today, she instructs at Hot Feet Fitness where she regularly uses the lessons and tools learned from practice in her day to day life and vice versa. Her mission is to teach others how to learn from yoga and put their best foot forward to gain the most from their lives as well.

Related Posts