I am a healthy gal but not a strong one. I do not get sick or look overweight, but I will be out of breath the minute I start running and I cannot climb 10 stories without taking a break. Not so good.
Among many weakness, I have zero core strength. I can hardly complete two push-up, and I have very bad postures. When I went to a doctor a year ago for neck pain, she took one look at me sitting in a chair and said:”You do not need pain killer. What you need is a physical therapist.” Fortunate for me, I work for an University that is big for sports and had excellent physical therapists. After a couple of visits, I was prescribed to core exercise and standing desk, both of which have since helped so much.
This happened to be around the time I started doing Yoga. I first started doing Yoga to hang out with a friend, then really liked it as an exercise. It is not too demanding as running or other cardio exercise, and I do get to work out my muscle and sweat. It straightens my spine and stretches me out, making me feeling taller and cleaner afterwards. More importantly, it puts me into a community in which people are nice and non-judgmental. I also get benefit from the meditation part and feel that I rise above my worries at the end of each practice. So imagine my pleasant surprise when my physical therapist prescribed me a series of core exercises and I found that all of them were already part of my Yoga practice!
The type of Yoga I practice is Vinyasa. It contains many core exercise including different kinds of plank, cat knee, chair poses and boat poses.
I borrowed this image from someone’s Pinterest challenge page so please ignore the account names. This is a really good summary for core exercise included in Vinyasa yoga practice.
I try to do two classes a week, one focusing on strength and one focusing more on flexibility, but both of them will have these posts. I also try to hold the pose perfectly and as long as I could, to the point that the next day my core muscles hurt.
During the days I don’t go to Yoga classes, I try to find 10 minutes in the evening to do a couple core exercises at home. I started with just plain simple plank – it is much harder than it looks.
You can also mix different types of plank variations:
Besides plank and its variations, there are lots of core exercises one can easily do at home. Barefoot Blonde, a blogger I really like for her positive attitude and just generally being fab and gorgeous all the time, posted her core exercise routine in a video which is super helpful to me. I usually just play her video and pick 4 poses she does in the video, and do more reps.
In the video she used her baby as a weight for core exercise and it is just so cute! I tried with my dogs but they do not like to be picked up haha.
Arm strength is an important part in core exercise. Without arm and shoulder strength, core exercise can be difficult. When I first started Yoga I were not able to do lots of poses because my arms could not hold me long enough. You can train your arms by just doing more core exercises, like this post described. I also started lifting very light weight with lots of repetitions to train my arms like 5 pounds weight each arm, and do 80 reps each time (20 per group x 4 groups). It only takes a couple minutes and I do it when I am waiting for my bagel to be toasted in the morning. The effect comes in so slowly that I did not feel my arms changed at all, but guess what, one day the Yoga teacher called wheel post, which I could not do before due to weak arms, I just did it without a problem! That was a happy day. 🙂
I am not trying to gain muscle and beef up at all. All I want is to be strong and have good posture and can hold a head stand one day. So core exercise and arm exercise have been good fits for my life. I do not do intense exercise, like Amber, whose daily exercise is 60 minutes cardio, 300 lunges and 300 rep of ab/core exercises. I only do 10% of that -10 minutes fast walk on treadmill + 80 reps of core exercise, SOMETIMES. But I feel light, my spinal is straight,and I can feel that I am getting stronger. My goal is to be able to transition between crow pose to a tripod headstand by the end of this year:
|Crow to tripod headstand|
And maybe this someday!