How to Strengthen your Core Muscles

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Engage the belly! Activate your core! Pull the navel to the spine!

These are phrases we often hear in yoga and exercise classes in general. But what does it mean?

For a long time (mostly because I never took the time to learn properly early in my yoga practice) I was very confused about which muscles to engage.

I also didn’t realise that I was walking around with the muscles of exhalation constantly engaged. For years! I’m sure I started it to fit into a pair of skinny jeans at some point and then it became second nature.

Two things happened when I let go of this unnecessary tension: my lower back pain disappeared and I generally feel more relaxed!

So how do we strengthen the core muscles?

In the video below my teacher Simon Borg Olivier explains the different ways we can engage the belly muscles and what works best in our yoga practice.

I spent a month with Simon in India and he would often have someone poke a finger in his belly to help us understand what muscles he was using.

And once you get a grasp of it, it is the same in every posture. We use postural muscles like a ‘half sit up’. Firm in the front of the belly but soft at the sides.

This means we can work really strongly but stay relaxed. The second video below shows how to apply this concept to handstands also.

For more details on this topic check out the Yoga Synergy blog

Happy Practising!

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