Adding on to our previous leg-strengthening Jock Yoga tutorial, this tutorial will focus on some basic poses/moves for strengthening the core.
Most people think that crunches and sit-ups are the best way to get that flat, washboard stomach we all dream of. Concentric contractions (shortening of the muscle) of the abdominal wall like crunches do build muscle, but they also increase the size of the muscle. If the muscles are over-developed in the core, they can cause for a lack of rotation in the torso and create a bloated look in the belly.
One way to strengthen and tone the muscles without building size is through isometric contractions—static holds of the engaged muscles. This will build your strength and tone—without the bulk. A tight, lean mid-section not only looks great, but makes all of your athletic endeavours and daily functioning stronger and easier. Adding isometric core exercises to a fat-melting cardio program can give you the much-desired trim and toned look to your stomach. The following exercises target the entire core area and oblique muscles, and can be practiced anywhere.
Step 1: Come into a forearm plank pose: fingers interlaced, forearms on the floor, elbows directly below the heads of the shoulders, and feet hip-width. Beginners can begin with knees on the floor. Whether your knees are on the floor or not, the tailbone (base of the spine) is tucked toward the floor, which engages the low core muscles and flattens the low back. Hold here—breathing deeply through the nose—as long as you can, or at least until you begin to feel a burning sensation in the central and lower abdominal area. (Keep coming back to tucking the tailbone and maintaining a flat low-back in order to prevent sagging and strain)
Step 2: Staying on the forearms, walk your feet forward toward your elbows, but keep reaching the hip-creases up and back. This is ‘Dolphin Pose’. This pose transfers the work from the core to the upper body (shoulders, arms, back) and also can give a stretch to the lat (side back) muscles and the hamstrings.
Step 3: Maintaining the integrity of ‘dolphin pose’, inhale and lift your left leg in the air. Bending the knee, crunch the side core muscles, and bring your knee to touch your left triceps. Although this is a concentric movement, it becomes static—or isometric—once we hold the knee to the arm. Hold as long as you can—but don’t hold your breath! You will notice work in the upper body, side core (obliques) and the entire core area to keep the pose stable. When you’ve had enough, lift the leg up and back and place it down. Repeat on the right side.
Get Jock Yoga CERTIFIED!! Our Jock Yoga expert Michael DeCorte is hosting his first Jock Yoga University 40hr Teacher-Training at Equinox Bay Street Oct. 2-6th. For more information and/or to apply, visit: www.jockyoga.com
Check back every other week for a new Jock Yoga tutorial by fitness expert Michael DeCorte.