“. . . according to the Yoga Sutra (3.1), the term [Bandha] refers to the ‘binding’ of consciousness to a particular object or locus (desha), which is the very essence of concentration.”
Georg Feuerstein



Sunday, June 4, 2017

Around Your Core in 4 Minutes

Figure 1: The "Around Your Core" sequence.
Hello Friends,

I want to share one of my favorite core workouts. I use this at the end of practice to integrate the shoulders, core and lower extremities. Let’s get right into it…

1) Start with forearm plank. Tighten your glutes and abs as you attempt to drag your forearms towards your feet. This is an isometric contraction of the core muscles shown below. At the same time, co-activate the muscles of your rotator cuff by attempting to “windshield wiper” your forearms in while resisting this action in the opposite direction (Figure 2). Hold for 10-30 seconds the come down and rest for 10 seconds. Click here to learn the key cues to activate your pose as well as the muscle subsystems it amplifies…

Figure 2: Forearm plank. Attempt to drag your forearms towards your feet.

2) Now go to plank pose on your right side. Press the edge of your right foot into the mat and lift your pelvis. Attempt to drag your forearm towards your foot. Co-activate the rotator cuff by attempting to “windshield wiper” your forearm in internal rotation while resisting with external rotation (Figure 3). Hold for 10-30 seconds the come down and rest for 10 seconds. Click here to learn the key cues to activate your pose as well as the muscle subsystems it amplifies…

Figure 3: Side plank. Attempt to drag your forearm toward your foot and your foot toward your forearm.

3) Next, go to Bridge Pose (Setu bandha Sarvangasana). Engage the muscles that surround your pelvis (including the glute max and internal rotators) and connect them to your back muscles. Hold for 10-30 seconds the come down and rest for 10 seconds. Click here to learn the key cues to activate your pose as well as the progression for contracting the correct individual muscles—this is key!

Figure 4: Bridge pose. Engage your glutes.


Added Bonus: engage the muscles on the sides of your lower legs to lift your feet arches. Click here to learn more about this important cue.

Figure 5: Engage the muscles on the sides of the lower leg to lift your arch.


4) Next roll over to left side forearm plank. Hold for 10-30 seconds then come down and rest for 10 seconds.

5) Return to forearm plank and repeat the sequence, this time starting with left side plank pose.




Keep your breathing smooth throughout this sequence. Be sure to check out the details in the links above. Start with 10-30 seconds in each pose and build to 1-2 minutes. The adjustments in the links are the keys to integrating the extremities and core. For more cues to help you get the most from your practice, page through the Yoga Mat Companion Series and the Key Muscles and Poses of Yoga.


All the Best,

Ray Long, MD

13 comments:

  1. Thank you! I am 69, taught Ashtanga for ten years, but now-- live on my sailboat--this information helps me fine tune. I so appreciate you--and will "follow".

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    1. I wonder how you manage to do your daily yoga asana,I work on a ship and it becomes impossible during bad weather.

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  2. I love this! It is much appreciated!

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  3. Your posts are absolutely wonderful!!! So well illustrated and explained. Thank you very much!

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  4. Patricia in Roanoke VA, USAJune 4, 2017 at 1:53 PM

    I am a 76 yr old Registered YA Teacher & have difficulty being on my forearm in plank. i'm able to do the full side plank with no problem. a couple of my students feel it is also much harder. i will try again having my husband read me your instructions so i engage all muscles properly & see what happens. Thank you so much for all you advice & pictures! Patricia in Roanoke VA.

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  5. This is a sequence I have to try. Thank you.

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  6. Thank you. I am going to incorporate this core work with my class instruction tomorrow.

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  7. Yep! I agree, this is a great refresher! And, I would add core strength is essential throughout life! Thanks!! 😊

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  8. Great insights. Recently I have realized how, in addition to the physical strength core work enables, it is profoundly empowering to the emotional state as well. I asked my fellow practitioners to notice the effects of our core practice on their feelings. They concurred that it offers a grounding in empowerment that is vital in the tumultuous time we live in. The elegance of yoga affirmed once again. Thanks for the wonderful sequence.

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  9. Great inside tips! I teach at the Air & Space Museum in Washington DC, and will definitely guide my students through this series tomorrow. I find all your insights and flows enhancing and inspiring.

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  10. To adapt this sequence for my senior chair yoga class (no mats), I'm trying it at the wall and the cues seem to work well for the 90-degree flip that obviously lessens the effect of gravity. Standing bridge at the wall, though, feels awkward. Any suggestions for bridge or the planks at the wall are appreciated. Thanks.

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  11. I must try this sequence. So nicely explained and illustrated.

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