Not only does having a strong core and tighter abs make us feel good about the way we look, it’s essential for a healthy back, good posture and performing everyday activities that require mobility, stability and balance. Even the simplest of motions like walking and sitting more mindfully depend on a strong core! In this post, we’ll show you how similar, yet different, yoga and fitness moves parallel and complement one another to fire up your core, leaving you stronger and better equipped for your day.
YOGA: Navasana (Boat Pose). Come to a seated position. Bring your legs together, bend your knees, catch ahold of the backs of your thighs with your hands and pull your thighs into your chest. Elevate your shins so they are parallel with the ceiling and lift your chest up, finding a tiny backbend in your upper back. To make the pose more challenging, keep everything as is, but reach your arms forward toward your feet and/or extend your legs toward the ceiling while keeping your chest lifted up and your lower back from rounding. Hold for three to five cycles of breath.
FITNESS: Russian Twist. Sit on a mat with your knees bent and your feet hip distance apart and planted about a foot in front of your sit bones. Extend your arms to the right, keeping your chest and shoulders up and lifted. Then, reach your arms across your body to the left. To make things more challenging, elevate one or both feet off the ground as you twist. You can also add a dumbbell for extra resistance. Do five to 10 repetitions.
YOGA: Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana (Forearm Plank). Come to your hands and your knees. Bring your forearms to the ground with your elbows directly under your shoulders and your forearms and fingertips pointing forward. Step your feet back, creating a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Keep your tailbone tucked, ribs pulling in. Draw your chest forward while pressing your heels back, engage your core and hold for two to four cycles of breath. Modification: Put your knees down, but keep your thighs away from the floor as you pull your ribs in and reach your chest forward.
FITNESS: Elevator Plank. Starting in a high plank position, bring your right knee in toward your right elbow. Slowly lower your right knee toward your right wrist, then step it back into plank position and repeat on the left side. Keep your abs engaged, wrists under your shoulders and chest reaching forward. Do five to ten sets.
YOGA: Plank Knee Curls. Come to downward facing dog. Inhale and lift the right leg up toward the ceiling, exhale and pull your right knee in toward your chest bringing your shoulders over your wrists. Inhale and lift the right leg back up toward the ceiling, exhale and pull your right knee toward your left upper arm. Inhale and lift the right leg back up toward the ceiling, exhale and pull your right knee toward your right upper arm. Inhale and lift your right leg back up toward the ceiling, exhale and curl the right knee back into the chest and pause for three cycles of breath before making your way back to down dog.
FITNESS: Mountain Climber. This move is great for cardio and core! Starting in a high plank position, quickly bring one knee in towards the chest and then quickly switch legs. You can make it even more challenging by switching legs at the same time and catching some airtime! Do five to ten repetitions. Modification: Shorten the range of motion or slow it down.
Laura Burkhart is a 500 E-RYT Yoga Works and Yoga Tree Teacher who also teaches online on My Yoga Works. Laura’s creatively sequenced classes are challenging, with a smooth and rhythmic flow. She is conscientious about catering to different levels and ability, ensuring that all her students feel welcome and comfortable. She is known for her warmth, fluidity, precision and smart sequencing and is attentive to the needs of her students. Laura worked as the Yoga Director at the San Francisco Bay Club’s Mind/Body Center, modeled in numerous Yoga Journal online videos, was spotlighted in Origin Magazine, and was a master class model for Yoga Journal Magazine. She has also presented at the Yoga Journal Conference, Yoga For Hope and Yoga Rocks the Park and has contributed to online blogs and articles for SELF Magazine, Yoga Journal Magazine, Refinery 29 and Yoga Tree. Find out more at LauraBurkhartYoga.com.
Jaime McFaden is the founder of Whey By J, Personal Trainer, group exercise instructor and Senior Master Trainers for Jillian Michaels BODYSHRED. Jaime has become an expert in body weight training and uses her fun, effective workouts to keep people in shape while having fun. Her exercises don’t require any equipment so she has a no excuse rule. She works with clients from age 5 – 85 so she is constantly creating workouts that can cater to nearly anyone. Jaime is also a contributor to many blogs including: The Skinny Confidential, Eat Beautiful/and fabletics. She has been featured in multiple fitness DVDs, co written the Bombshell Body Guide, has been featured as one of the top 10 trainers in Shape magazine 2014 and is currently featured in Women’s Health and Family Circle magazine.
Follow Laura and Jaime on Facebook/Instagram @WheyByJ @LauraBurkhartYoga @FireWaterFusion