The 2nd principle of Alignment is to:
ENGAGE YOUR CORE in all active positions. Your core consists of all the muscles in your trunk, including your abdominal muscles, back muscles and shoulder girdle muscles. Engaging these in a mindful way whenever you are not at rest will keep your spine in alignment and create a long-lasting healthy posture. To locate your core, begin in a comfortable upright position. Place your hands over your belly and take a deep breath, feeling the belly expand as you fill up with air. Then cough a couple times, and feel your belly draw back toward your spine. This is one way to feel your abdominal muscles engage. Now try to activate those same muscles more slowly with each exhale. To engage the shoulder girdle. lift your chest as you breathe in, then slowly draw your shoulder blades towards each other and your outer shoulders back.
Core work is very important for EVERY BODY*! Although it is usually not people's favorite thing. Our generally inactive lifestyle have caused most people a deficiency in the strength and stability of the core. The core includes all the major surface and inner muscles in the torso: pelvic girdle, abdominals, side, back, and shoulder girdle muscles. Core work creates strength and stability in these important areas. Core strengthening is important for:
· Protecting the spine
· Promoting good posture
· Protecting the inner organs
· Increasing stability and decreasing likelyhood of falling and injuring oneself
In our asana practice, core work functions in all of the above ways to keep us from causing acute or long term injury. For example: standing in Warrior 1 without activation of the abdominals results in exaggerating the dramatic curve of the lumbar spine, creating compression and premature wear and tear. Activation of the abdominals maintains space between each vertebrae, allowing for expansion and stability.
(*Pregnant women can still practice core work, targeting pelvic floor and back strengthening, but should take it easy on the abdominals- the focus during pregnancy is to SOFTEN the belly!)
Options: Table with alternative arm and leg lift and pull in to center, Navasana, Ardha Navasana, Forearm Plank, Leg Lifts, Yogic Bicycle, Rolling Bridge, Shalabasana, Cobra without hands, Side Plank, simple reclining knees pull in, and much more, get creative!