Ignite Your Core

Ignite Your Core

Add These 7 Postures for Strength and Stretching

SPINAL FLEXION

IGNITE YOUR CORE

It’s no secret that you go to your yoga mat for a purpose, whatever that may be on a given day. It’s important, however, to marry that purpose with intention. When it comes to strengthening your core in your asana practice, this is vital. As your center, your core is involved in every movement, but that doesn’t mean you’re maximizing your potential for strength. In many yoga postures, you may be missing opportunities to intentionally move in a way that will truly ignite your core. In today’s video, you’ll see how Matt transforms the execution of 7 yoga poses. You will learn new ways to achieve strength in your core, and you’ll gain the benefit of a target  stretch, which in Chromatic yoga can become a secondary focal point to support the desired action on the mat.

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PREPARE WITH “CORE” CAT/COW

Igniting your core in Cat/Cow may not be exactly as you imagine. What Matt says in the video about defaulting to just allowing gravity to take over can be so true. He mentions that when moving into spinal flexion (Cat), you may just be dropping your head and the lower vertebrae, but flexing the entire spine is extremely important. The actions to take here are to pull your chin and throat back and to pull your ribs back, while lengthening the occipital ridge (where your skull meets your neck). By doing this, you’ll really feel the difference in sensation. You’ll get the activation of the core, receiving the benefit of strength while also lengthening the erector spinae muscles. These are also great foundational actions for arm balances and forward folds.

WATCH THE VIDEO

IGNITE YOUR CORE: ADD THESE 7 POSTURES FOR STRENGTH & STRETCH

PROGRESSION AND PATTERNING

In Chromatic yoga, you’re directed toward a specific focal point or action. This not only allows you to practice it repeatedly to integrate it, but eventually, it also transforms the way your body moves altogether. After repatterning Cat/Cow to attain more core engagement, multiple opportunities will unfold in the rest of the practice. Postures like High Lunge and the transitions between postures change when you focus on the physical throughline. In today’s video, you’ll see how the same actions from Cat/Cow are repeated in High Lunge. Coming from Three-Legged Dog towards “knee to chest” requires more strength from your wrists, shoulders, and serratus anterior. So what should you do? Stay focused on the key actions. What’s interesting is that sometimes your body finds more connection on a different plane, so repeatedly exploring these actions is crucial.  

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CORE ACTIVATION—TRADITIONAL AND UNEXPECTED

Matt offers a variety of options in standing and seated Dragonfly.  

As discussed, the key actions today are to pull your ribs back, pull your chin and throat back, and elongate your neck. In the last 4 postures in the video, Matt demonstrates some traditional and unexpected ways to ignite your core.

  1. Lizard Pose is a hip opener, but bringing your awareness to the key actions is what changes the dynamic. 
  2. Forearm Plank may be a more typical posture with regard to strengthening the core, but pay attention to the plantar flexion (pointing) of Matt’s feet in the video—it leads to more emphasis on your trunk.
  3. Gravity can take over in Pyramid Pose, but it’s an opportunity again to engage.
  4. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold) is the final pose in the clip. Although an intense hamstring stretch, it becomes effective as a core strengthener when you stretch your back muscles in spinal flexion.
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THE ULTIMATE GOAL

The ultimate goal is to BE INTENTIONAL. Every posture has multiple benefits, but it’s the focus you keep within a given practice that will ultimately bring clarity and purpose to your experiences on the mat.

One thing truly affects another, as is shown in the 7 postures Matt demonstrates in today’s video. Enhanced awareness of core activation will ultimately lead to improved spinal flexion. Taking a Chromatic approach opens up more opportunity for breakthroughs in your practice.

You can register for Matt’s current 15 Hour Chromatic Yoga Immersion to open yourself up to new possibilities.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Chromatic Yoga 15 Hour Immersion

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Chin Stand

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Transversus Abdominis

Transversus Abdominis

Connect to Your Core With This Twist Technique

spinal rotation

CONNECT TO YOUR CORE

Once you are exposed to transformational techniques for your yoga practice, there’s no turning back. In the context of asana, these techniques open you up to a whole new world and perspective as to what is possible on the mat. Techniques like the one Matt offers in today’s video provide an awakening within your body and help you truly connect to your core while exploring twisting postures. Connecting to some of your deeper core muscles may feel elusive, but it is indeed possible. The transversus abdominis (TVA) is at the deepest layer of the core; when active, it can create spinal rotation, and it also stabilizes the spine. How is it possible to transform your experience and more deeply connect to your core?

TWISTS & FOLDS

TWISTS & FOLDS

  • Strengthen core muscles of rotation and side bends
  • Improve spinal mobility
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UDDIYANA BANDHA AND TRANSVERSUS ABDOMINIS

The transversus abdominis can be activated on both the inhale and the exhale. Activation on an exhalation is called Uddiyana Bandha. Bandha means “lock” or “hold” and serves the body by stabilizing it during your practice. Uddiyana Bandha is the abdominal lock. Drawing the belly in and up is the necessary action to create the lock; this is exactly what engages the TVA. Contracting the transversus abdominis compresses the abdomen, and this is the first step in creating a deeper connection to your core. It’s still important to allow prana to flow! A deliberate mind-muscle connection must be established in order to feel and maintain stability while sustaining the flow of breath. As always, setting a foundation for the nervous system will enable you to direct your brain and body to respond to the action you desire—in this case, it’s spinal rotation. How can you continue to prepare your core for twisting postures?

WATCH THE VIDEO

TRANSVERSUS ABDOMINIS:  CONNECT TO YOUR CORE WITH THIS TWIST TECHNIQUE

KAPALABHATI PRANAYAMA AND CONNECTING TO YOUR CORE

One of the most relatable cues to begin to understand Kapalabhati Pranayama is to compare it to coughing, which is also an appropriate cue in order to understand TVA activation. This does not mean that you have to cough in order to activate TVA, but it helps to feel how the belly pulls back and that it’s a quick, firm action.

Today’s clip is extracted from Matt’s current immersion, Twists & Folds. At the beginning of the class, Matt guides you through Kapalabhati, which is the practice of “forcefully” breathing in and out in a repetitive manner. The exhale happens via pulling your belly back. The purpose of starting the practice in this way is to begin to wake up and tone the TVA. It’s these more subtle energetic practices that lay the foundation for you to connect to your core. This connection to your core has the potential for you to increase spinal mobility and go deeper into twisting postures.

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GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

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  • Build confidence speaking in front of groups in person and online
  • Learn foundational class structures and templates
  • Learn techniques for a wide range of yoga postures
  • Get certified and highly qualified to teach yoga
  • Yoga Alliance Globally Recognized Certification Program

TWISTING POSTURES

“The abdominal muscles are the core prime movers in the twisting postures.”

Long, Ray. The Key Muscles of Yoga, Vol. 1 . Bandha Yoga Publications LLC. 2005. Pg.126

Bringing TVA to the forefront of your awareness is important when utilizing the twist technique from today’s video. Connecting to your core, the TVA specifically, also requires an awareness of the erector spinae and quadratus lumborum muscles. These muscles lift the torso and aid in creating an anterior tilt of the pelvis. Without this upright position, it’s impossible to truly access the lifting and pulling back of your belly. This awareness is key to being a full participant when engaging in twisting postures in your yoga practice. You’ll be guiding your body, rather than having your body guide you. For example, if there are vulnerable instabilities in the hips, utilizing the strength in your core muscles will offer a sense of steadiness and safety in any given twisting posture. How is this expressed in Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)?

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Master your skill set as a teacher through refined techniques, anatomy, biomechanics, sequencing, philosophy, meditation techniques, theming, yoga business, and much more!

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  • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
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TRANSVERSUS ABDOMINIS (TVA) TWIST TECHNIQUE: ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA

A seated twist like Ardha Matsyendrasana is a great way to explore this technique, although it can be applied to multiple twist postures. A seated twist is a great option because it removes the added challenge of balancing in a standing twist posture. This offers more time to explore your breath within TVA activation.

Here are the steps:

  1. Find a tall spine (place blankets under your seat if it is difficult to find more spinal extension)
  2. Place hands at the low back and encourage the top of your pelvis to push forward to find more anterior tilt (low back muscles are active)
  3. Lift the belly in and up and spiral up as you twist
  4. Inhales are for preparation and length, exhales for twisting (spinal rotation)
  5. Your back arm can be placed down for support
  6. Your front arm can gently grab the thigh as you continue to rotate (minimize usage of front arm as much as possible in order to maintain core connection)
  7.  Continue to rotate your belly button
  8. “Wring out a towel”—right belly towards left side of spine creates the transversus rotation

TRANSFORM THE CONNECTION TO YOUR CORE

If you’ve practiced with Matt before, then you know that strengthening muscles on your mat promotes increased mobility. Contacting your TVA means that you are cultivating strength. Connecting to the TVA, the deepest layer of your core, is going to transform how you experience twisting postures. You will find greater mobility while feeling more stable in your body.

Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better,” and this is so very true on the mat. The education you come away with from Matt’s classes helps you to do exactly that. You will know better and in fact do better beyond your expectations.

You can sign up here for Matt’s Twists & Folds immersion.

See you on the mat!

The 200 Hr. Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Twists & Folds

UPCOMING TEACHER TRAININGS

NEXT TRAINING BEGINS FEBRUARY 2024 ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN!
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Hanumanasana HintssplitsHANUMANASANA HINTS Applying intelligent techniques to a posture like Hanumanasana is crucial.  Simply hoping for the best is definitely not the way to go.  That mindset leaves us vulnerable to injury.  It’s also the type of pose that can be...

read more
Chin Stand

Chin Stand

Chin Standganda bherundasanaCHIN STAND Without a doubt, Chin Stand requires preparation. This posture must be approached with the utmost humility, essential in order to respect the potential risk. If this pose is not explored regularly in our physical practice, it may...

read more
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read more
Spinal Spaciousness

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Spinal Spaciousnessdancer poseSPINAL SPACIOUSNESS Some key indicators of spinal health include strong bones, durable yet flexible ligaments, supple discs, and strong supportive muscles. Aside from nutrition, it’s not enough to say that movement in general is enough to...

read more
Steps To Scorpion Pose

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read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

When You Subscribe, You Will Get Instant Access to

  • the Technique Pack: 15 yoga pose breakdowns
  • exclusive online course discounts
  • exclusive blogs and videos
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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