Yoga and Core Strength
Core strength is essential to build good metabolism, burn fat and boost overall strength and vitality. Without strengthening your core (which is your stomach and back muscles) it is not possible to get the maximum out of your limbs or any other body parts that you want to work on. Even runners require a strong core in order to support their legs for long durations and sprinters even more so. Yoga is one of the most effective ways to build core strength and add flexibility to your muscles.
For those of you who weight train, a good mix of yoga and heavy weights will help strengthen your muscles, as well as add flexibility as over time excessive weight training can make your muscles stiff. Also, as we also know by now, spot reduction or doing lots and lots of crunches is not going to help you get rid of that belly fat. Your problem areas are going to continue being your problem areas unless you make sustained efforts to work on building strength and muscles.
So how does yoga really help in strengthening my core?
Yoga postures – Take almost any yoga posture like the sarvangasana (shoulder stand), virbhadrasana (warrior pose), or the dhanurasana (bow pose). How well you are able to emulate these poses almost always depends on how strong your core is. Being flexible but having a weak core will allow you to do some basic postures like Uttanasana (bending forward and touching your toes), but will not allow you to make much headway in the slightly more advanced postures.
Yoga stretches – Basic stretches like the cow and cat post (getting down on all fours and stretching your back in and out) and the mountain pose where all you have to do is stand on your toes, extend your arms upwards and stretch your whole body out, are very essential in increasing flexibility to your core. Doing this will make you far less susceptible to injuries and will allow you to push your body more during weight training and/ or running.
Breathing – Yoga teaches you techniques of how to breathe in a way that promotes lung capacity, clears blockages and even clenches and unclenches stomach muscles. This, once again, promotes movement and flexibility of core muscles and all round core strength.
Although yoga alone will not help you achieve that six-pack, it is a vital addition to your fitness routine so that you can strengthen your core, which in turn will help you perform better in all your other fat burning endeavours. Strengthening your core in itself is vital if you want to tone your body for a sleeker torso.
Image courtesy Reuters.