As I am preparing for a new online Beginner’s Yoga course I ponder the question yet again:
How do I best explain the concept of Core muscles?
Most people who are physically active seem to have heard about them. Many have an idea that they are somewhere ‘down there’. Most people think they ‘don’t have enough of them’..
How about it? Have you got them and use them?
No, because in order to get from lying to standing on both feet we need to use them if we are to use the body safely and efficiently. As a child’s head is quite heavy compared to the lower body the balancing act of a human is quite a feat to begin with and the necessary muscles and bones develop as needed.
In these early years the body is also used as designed: lots of movement, lots of variation, plenty of rest as needed.
As soon as sitting begins to be the most dominant position we change the healthy use of the skeleton.
I encourage you to look around (when you next go out or watch a film) to make your own judgement on the posture of young and grown adults.
What has happened? After sitting for extensive periods of time our bodies begin to use muscles in ways that are not the same as originally designed and practiced by the small child. Sitting for hours at a time or on unsuitable chairs tires the postural muscles. Other structures or muscles take over from the well aligned and balanced spine and the muscles surrounding it. The pelvis is an integral part of the upright human posture and the spine is held and moved from this foundation.
The good news is we can re-train these muscles. As they affect posture and balance we prime new students to regularly ‘engage the core’ muscles. It takes a while for this to become first nature again. Safer and a more satisfying practice are a result of using these muscles regularly.
Improved posture reduces aches; increases confidence; eases breathing; reduces stress.
Will using them give you a six-pack or slimmer waist? It definitely is a beginning step. To achieve those goals you want to exercise the muscles around the trunk a lot plus reducing the amount of fatty tissue hiding your abdominal muscles.
So, yes it is great to retrain core muscles. They are an essential part of safe Yoga practice and body use in general. They also form part of a healthy posture. We’ve all got them, let’s switch them on regularly.
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We are Kari van Eden and Michael Cordel.