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Engaging the core

A passing comment one of my teachers made in one of my first few lessons, in reference to the Dandasana/Staff pose, is that it is not a relaxing posture. It looks as if you merely have to sit up with straightened legs, but in order to achieve the right alignment for the pose, you’d have to flex your feet, straighten the legs and back and roll shoulders backwards. Essentially this stretches and engages all the muscles in the legs, back and abdomen.

Similarly in downward facing dog- grounding your feet into the mat and tilting the sit bones upwards gives the glutes and legs a full stretch while softening the elbows and gazing towards the naval ensures that the spine is lengthened. When done properly, the entire body gets a good stretch.

Since learning about muscle and joint movements, we have come to understand that in yoga, every posture is actually very physically engaging- if done correctly. If you were to hold almost any pose for an extended period of time in proper alignment, you’d find that yoga is actually not a light activity, but you will definitely reap the benefits of stretching and strengthening.

The core muscles in our body is comprised of the back, upper thighs, pelvis, hips, abdomen and obliques. These muscles are all work in harmony to give the body its balance and stability. This is why “engage the core” is a phrase that often comes up in every class. The intention of most poses is to work and stretch several parts of the body at one time and is hardly ever an isolated movement.
Stephanie Heng
200h Hatha Vinyasa YTTC
June weekday 2015