How am I going to use this in real life?

Someone was thinking it, no?

Even though core work is awesome, it can be difficult to fit strengthening exercises like plank into daily life. I mean, I know I warm up my shoulders, wrists, and back to enter plank safely, let alone hold it for any length of time. Plus, there are not many opportunities to “sneak a quick plank” into my day. If I were to lie down on the floor at work, people would look at me funny. If I were to hold plank in the middle of the grocery store, someone would probably ask me to leave.

Fortunately there is a faster and subtler way to engage my core: standing balances. As this Yoga Journal article explains:

Another important element to feeling centered is abdominal tone, which provides the core strength necessary for the pose. If the abdominals are weak, the section of the midline that runs through the belly area remains dull and provides no support for the low back in the posture.

Granted, the author is talking specifically about tree pose there, but drawing toward the midline and the engaging the core are actions that happen in pretty much every standing balance.

It doesn’t even have to be an Official Yoga Pose™ to engage the core. Simply standing on one foot — even with the foot picked up just a little way off the ground — while waiting in line does it. Not as strenuously as holding plank while counting to eleventy billion, but the transversus abdominus is strengthening. And as the free foot moves father away from midline, the more intensely the abs have to engage.

Lower body shot of a person's legs in a low tree pose. The right foot is against the left ankle.

How I do tree pose at the grocery store. (Though I am not at the grocery store in this pic.) Note the raised foot’s close proximity to the ground. This way, if I fall, it is not such a noticeable happening.

And sometimes, even that few seconds is enough to build muscle memory. So even if the body isn’t gaining a whole lot of measurable strength, the core might become aware of how it feels to be activated.

So subtly (or not so subtly, if you’re me) lifting one foot while waiting in line somewhere? Doesn’t change the amount of time available, of course. But it’s a different way to use the time that’s actually there.

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I'm here. I like stuff. Some other stuff, I like less.

Posted in asana, core

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