One of the many benefits of yoga is that it requires a “proximal to distal” approach. A strong core (proximal) is central to developing mobility and strength in the extremities (distal). Many yoga poses require spinal stabilization rather than flexion and are safe and beneficial for a wide range of abilities. The following three traditional stabilization postures have the added challenge of asymmetrical appendage movement, which requires the core to work harder to resist rotation. Add these poses to any format, not just yoga, and modify them for all fitness levels. Keep the following in mind:
- Let breathing patterns be smooth and rhythmic.
- Cue participants to stay mindful.
- If students are being pulled out of neutral alignment or begin to experience lower-back pain, reset them to a less challenging version.
- Experiment with different arm or leg angles.
Warrior III With Arm Sweeps
- Stand tall in mountain pose, arms by your sides.
- Inhaling, lift arms overhead.
- Shift weight to right leg and hinge from hips; lift left leg off floor behind you.
- Position arms, torso and raised leg relatively parallel to floor. Gravity may cause pelvis to tilt; resist, keeping waist level.
- Slowly sweep arms back while holding pose. Keep spine neutral by aligning ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankle of lifted leg.
- Repeat, opposite leg.
See also: Balance and Stability
Boat Pose With Heel Drops
- Begin seated, knees bent, feet flat on floor, hands resting beside hips.
- Keep spine straight, lean back slightly and lift feet, bringing shins parallel to floor.
- Engage core, lift chest and lengthen torso.
- Extend arms forward, in line with shoulders, palms facing.
- Balance on sit bones, spine lifted. Do not let lower back sag or chest collapse.
- Lift legs to 45-degree angle, bringing body into V shape. Modification: Bend knees until you can control pose with even breath.
- Slowly lower one leg, reaching heel out toward floor.
- Bring leg back to starting position; repeat, opposite leg.
Bridge Pose With Asymmetric Leg Circles
- Lie supine on floor, knees bent, feet about hip-width apart, heels as close to sit bones as possible.
- Exhaling, lift hips, keeping thighs and inner feet parallel.
- Keep knees directly over heels, but push them forward, away from hips, and lengthen tailbone toward backs of knees.
- Lift pubis toward navel, extend one leg and bring it perpendicular to floor.
- Start by making small circles from hip, then gradually make circles bigger as core strengthens.
- Bend knee and lower leg to starting position; repeat, opposite leg.
See also: Breath and Movement for Core Stability
Model: Leighton Rainer. Photography by Dr. Jeff Crews.