Hey all, join me for a fun, functional floor flow style practice complete with your fair serving of yoga fun! When we think to flow it means we become very compliant with cohesively sinking our breath to our movement, so come join me in a liberating flow that will leave you feeling amazing. Namaste!
I love me some good core work, and I love me even more core work that challenges stability and my deep, deep, deep core muscles! Not all core work is created equal and once you are taught the right way you can never go back! Join me for a great quick move that requires us to challenge ourselves on the foam roller with a little weight in the mix.
Stability trumps mobility and when you combine that with deep core activation you get tons of fun! Grab your gilders, paper plates or towels for ease of sliding and get ready to rock your core!
This is my functional tribute to my fourth grade gym class when we did mountain climbers, back then a crazy step forward, step back movement where my hips were all over the place, this version is a bit more stable and a lot more core involved.
Let’s get started!
1. Start in Plank with your props placed under the balls of your feet.
2. Contract continuously your pelvic core (pelvic floor + core muscles)
3. Keep your wrists under your shoulders and do not hike your hips but rather sneak your knee under your torso and then tuck it up tightly to your chest.
4. Exhale to slide the leg under the body and then at the last second tuck it extra tight and inhale mindfully and skillfully return it back to Plank.
5. Work to not move too quick at first as that is not the point, but rather to ensure you can feel your core tell your legs to move.
6. Try for 30 seconds to one minute of consistent leg strides and see how it goes.
7. Be mindful not to get sloppy, saggy hips or head, hiking your hips up and you tuck your leg under.
Ready, get set…. GO!
TIP: If you notice your lower back or hip flexors flairing you know your are probably not keeping stability or using your hip flexors for stability rather than your deep core!
We all do it, in yoga that is, transitioning from downward facing dog to runners lunge; the only problem is how the hell do I get my foot between my hands?
To be honest, no one ever told me either, they just said to do it and so I did, and when I first started teaching I too just told my students to do it and yep they struggle and I just kept telling them it will get better in time and for the most part it really did; except for those few that really needed more detail on how to actually transition.
This transition is a transition of core work combine with flexibility, but also the right understanding of how to move from point A to point B. When looking at the cliff notes picture below take note from the foot to the hand and practice your transition. Speed is not the issue and usually will only make things more complicated. If your teacher doesn't ever slow things down for the people in the room who need more help in fear their flow may be ruined, then I want to encourage you to practice at home and then go and WOW your teacher at class when you finally get it (or if you are a teacher slow down, your students will appreciate it and feel the difference).
And one more thing, don't forget that this transition is a core move, so work to engage your pelvic floor (really important) as well as your deep transversus (it will feel like your belly) as you roll your body forward, rather than stiffly like a board move your body forward. Remember make room for your leg to come forward as you slide along.
This can be a move in itself and I often use it as that in the event of practicing such a transition for a better Sun Sal or whatever we are doing at the time. I like to rock this ten times on each side to really feel the difference!
So off you go, ready, get set, rock your core!
by Hope Zvara
Plank is a hot core move in the fitness industry and yoga is no exception, but regardless of this hot move, it appears that there are many, many accidental variations that could be jeopardizing your core benefits in more ways than one.
1. Your plank is a bit saggy. Well to be a bit blunter your plank is hanging in all the wrong places. Just because your knees and belly aren’t on the floor hardly qualifies Plank as working your core. A saggy middle and saggy head not only put your lower back at serious risk for damage (an area most are already having pain) but a saggy head only creates more pressure on our poor wrists, another area many complain about in this trendy pose. Lift your middle without hinging at the hips, when you hang you put too much stress on the lower back and psoas, imagine floating above a campfire and remember to lift your head and look straight down, rather than forward.
2. You suffer from gluteuspoofus. Yep you heard me correctly; gluteuspoofus is a serious syndrome that many suffer from which entails you (the student) to push your booty to the sky creating a tip in the pelvis (pubis bone tipping upwards and ASIS down, fancy term for front hip bones). This tilt takes the entire core load into the hip hinge no longer making it a core pose. Make sure to align your pelvis in neutral (pubis bone and hip bones parallel with the floor, and ever slightly tip the hip bones into your core). You should feel the difference.
3. Your upper body looks like the incredible hulk. Now don’t get me wrong you are using your upper body in Plank but, everything is an extension of your core and your arms should not be doing all the work. When the folds of your elbows turn inward and your chest hallows out, it leaves your upper back looking like a berm and you have just cheated yourself again from a stellar core pose! Your upper back should be broad but not hunched, scapulae stabilization at its finest.
4. Your hands are cupping on the floor to hide your reward afterwards. Ok maybe not, but I see this all the time, all the load in the wrist and then people complain that their not strong enough for Plank yet. No, you probably are, you just haven’t had the proper instruction. Take just an extra few seconds to ensure that your wrists are directly under your shoulders, turn the folds of the elbows forward (watch hyperextension) and then lean just a hair further forward to bring more weight into the line of the fingers, making sure to spread the hands wide. And yes, Plank does strengthen the forearms and wrists so be ready for a little work in that area.
5. You are acting like you have two legs. The line of our core starts at the inner arches of our feet and runs up our inner thighs and feeds directly into the pelvic floor; two separate legs for someone who can’t quite say they truly understand the core will leave them with any one of the above and maybe something even fancier than that. Draw your legs and ankles together and zip the line of the inner thighs, this will at least allow your pelvic floor and transversus abdominus a fighting chance to turn on.
So what’s the skinny on plank then?
Plank is one-third core, one-third legs and one-third arms. When one area of the body is not up to par we compensate, for many it being the core. Start from the ground up and set up your hands and arms, consider placing a mini ball or foam block between the inner thighs and squeeze, this will allow a more effective core onset until you can feel those deep inner muscles without. Remember to practice neutral and Plank is no different. Don't forget to lean slightly forward (no hunching) over the fingers and push away to broaden the back. Think about how your arms and legs plug into your core (torso), not the other way around.
Modifications as always can be on the knees, and I look at modifications as ways to be more effective in the right muscle groups, and a second being on the forearms; but make sure to place a yoga block between the forearms and turn the palms inward, now press the forearms into the floor to shift your core load.
Want to make more sense of your Sun Salutation? Are you ready to overhaul that ancient flow and update it to a more functional, modern body movement system? Join me and honor your joints and spine as we awaken our core with each move. Don't be surprised if you notice new breathing patterns and transitions in and out of each pose.
I love core work with the mini ball, and it's about 407 times more effective than on your back core work, not to mention it activates muscles that cannot be used nearly as well when on a flat surface!
But what I often caution students is the proper educate to using a mini ball (6-8" inflatable ball).
Many of us come from the mentality that more is better and further means greater results. However if that means sacrificing proper muscle usage, functionality and purpose of the movement itself, I'm going to ask you to re-evaluate why you are doing what you are doing in the first place.
Below is a quick seven minute "how to" video made just for you on the basics of mini ball educate and hopefully leading you to a more effective practice!
Happy Core Quaking!
We all have 20 minutes right? Well join me for a detailed instruction series in favor of table top. Get on all fours and experience gravity and your deep core muscles in yet another plane of motion. I just love combing Core Functional Fitness with the goodness of yoga in a new age anatomy functional way.
And don't forget if you have not yet subscribed to my YouTube Channel please do so!
Get ready to heat up your core with step-by-step details on how to practice a better Chaturanga or Push-Up in no time! Feel like your up-down method to Chaturanga looks more like a wet spaghetti noodle thrown at a wall? You are not alone. Gain a better more core induced yoga practice in no time!
Siting on the floor with our knees bent and the foam roller behind you, place your hands onto the foam roller slightly wider than shoulders width, finger tops facing you.
Inhale and lift your bottom off the floor and press your feet into the mat, big toes next to each other (do not sit on the outer edges of the feet).
Exhale draw upward on the pelvic floor and activate the inner thighs and glutes.
Lift your heart and keep your eye line forward.
Taking a nice rib cage inhale; exhale and bend the elbows allowing the foam roller to rock a bit.
Keep the elbows pulling together towards each other and do not let your seat drop (like a gym version of this)
The challenging part is to do the move with your elbows bending, not your hips hinging.
Breath Review: Inhale at reverse plank à Exhale to lower only as far as you can keep “reverse plank body” à Inhale hold and hover à Exhale and return back to center being mindful of using your torso or pelvic-core to return back to center.
Repeat 3-10, only doing as many as you can successfully practice each one.
For beginners focus on just holding Reverse Plank or even Reverse Table with knees bent, heels under hips.