Day 1 – Abs
Core Strength & Stability
So that’s what I’m going to be showing you today, I’m going to show you through the best postures for improving your core strength those three exercises number, one is a staff pose so I’m going to show you how to do that, where you should be feeling it and why it improves your core strength. Number two, I’m going to be showing you the boat pose which is a yoga posture, I’ve never experienced before before starting yoga nothing I’ve ever done like it before in my other training and then number three, I’m going to be doing some reverse crunches with you and all of these help to improve your overall core strength and personally I’ve done a lot of training, I’ve done a lot of different types of workouts and the three exercises I’m going to show you help to un-tap a completely untapped aspect of your core strengths, so if you’ve never done these before you can get a ton out of these postures and even if you’ve done a lot of core work, if you’ve done crunches, if you’ve done planks, these exercises are totally different they’re going to help you improve your core strength significantly.
All right let’s get into this so, our first exercise is the staff pose and this is the beginners section so if you find this is too easy I encourage you to move up to the intermediate or even the advanced staff pose. I am going to have you start with your legs straight out in front of you, your hands on either side of your body just like this and we’re going to work on getting a straight line with your body so we want to make an L-shape with your body. You’re going to have your legs active, the backs of your knees pressing toward the ground, the legs slightly squeezing toward one another, your tailbone reaches down, so by that I mean I want you to press your lower back forward so that your lower back has a slight arch to it, so we’re not allowed in the lower back to sink out or pass out behind you, we’re working on lifting the chest up and again pressing that lower back forward. Your hands can help support you, if you feel like you’re falling down a little bit and then you want to push the top your head toward the ceiling, so we’ve got legs engaged, we’ve got the abs engaged and we’re pushing the top of the head toward the ceiling. If you need that support from your hands or working on pushing down through here, now if you feel like you’re sinking back a little bit more or if you’re kind of starting off like this, try bending your knees a little bit so we can bend the knees a little bit and then work on getting upright. you might just not have the hamstring mobility so you might lack flexibility in your thighs to be able to do that but eventually getting to the point where we’re getting leg straight out pressing the thighs down, pushing the knees down and pressing the top of the head toward the ceiling. We’re going to hold this for thirty seconds up to sixty seconds and we want to do two total of these. So this is the staff pose and what here what we’re feeling is the abs engaging, we don’t want to feel this in the lower back, we want to feel this mostly in the abs, we’re going to feel the legs engaging, we’re also going to feel the hip flexors engaging. So this is targeting all of those areas we’re strengthening the legs, we’re strengthening the hip flexors, which we can include in the core and more strengthening the abs, this leads to better posture, it leads to more stability in your abs, more stability in your hips, which helps to reduce injury in your entire lower body and your hips as well.
All right there’s exercise number one, number two is a boat pose and this is very similar but instead of having the leg straight out, we’re going to bring the feet in a little bit just like this, you can keep your feet about six inches apart. I am going to have you grab your knees just like this and then we’re going to lean back just a little bit. Now your goal here is to make a straight line with your back so your tendency is probably to let the lower back sink and kind of round forward, so we want to do is work on using the hands here on the thighs to lift your chest up and almost aim your sternum toward the ceiling so we’re leaning back and looking up a little bit. Now if this is still difficult you can bring your hands behind you like this, to help get a little bit of support typically in these postures and in yoga in general at least in the way that I teach it, I want you to get the exact posture correct first the technique correct by any means necessary, so if you need to use an external support whether that’s a wall or just putting your hands on the ground, I want you to do that instead of doing the posture incorrectly without any support. So here I’m using my hands, I’m getting my sternum facing up toward the ceiling, my legs are active, maybe I’m grabbing my hands under my thighs and I’m holding this for thirty to sixty seconds and I’m going to go through two total, two total reps of that. So this is all about core strength again I’ve got that hip strength, I’m working on to be my back flat in this exercise and that really helps with improving lower core strength. So we do a lot of upper core strength with crunches but it’s hard to target these lower abs and that’s what helps to reduce lower back pain, that’s what really helps to address what we as athletes or just in general fitness, general fitness in general need.
All right so there’s exercise number two, the boat number three is a reverse crunch, so for this going to have you go all the way onto your back, just lie down on your back and since this is the beginner version we’re just going to do one leg at a time. So your going to relax all the way down, head down, neck relaxed, back flat on the ground. We’re going to bring one leg straight out in front of you and you’re going to bring one knee in toward your chest, so go ahead and grab the right leg let’s say and then lift your left leg off the ground just a few inches and then switch sides. We are going to bring the right leg straight out, bring the left leg in, bring the hands on top of the left leg, work on driving that left heel forward and squeezing your right side using your core strength using your hip strength to keep that leg up and then switching sides again. So here we’re feeling the abs work, we’re feeling the thighs work, you shouldn’t be feeling anything in your lower back, if you are bring your leg up a little bit higher that will help you focus on using your hips and your core more instead of using your back to do this. So we’re going to do this switching back and forth for about sixty seconds total. So set a clock if you want to hold this for two or three seconds at a time you can do that or if you want to do ten seconds per side before switching that’s fine/ So this is a reverse crunch exercise and again this helps with the hips and the core strength as well.
Okay, so those are your exercises, my three exercises to help improve core strength so again I gave you a plan so that you can use these and implement them into your workout routine immediately. We’ve got the first exercise the staff pose, start at thirty seconds, work your way up to sixty seconds and do two total of those. The second is boat pose, thirty seconds of that or sixty seconds and then two sets total, work your way up. Number three, we’ve got to reverse crunchers and again we want to do about sixty seconds total of that and you can just do sixty seconds, no need to do two sets of that. So those are your exercises for the day that’s your first lesson. I’ve listed some workouts below here from the members area that help to directly address core strength, that go into a little bit more depth in what we just cover and of course if you’re ready to get started with full workouts with workout programs, the sign up button is below. I highly encourage, recommend you to sign up for the seven day trial, it’s just one dollar and that gets you unlimited access to all of the workouts, workout programs, tutorials and so much more. Thanks again for joining me for the first free lesson from Man Flow Yoga, I look forward to seeing you on number two.
Now the causes of lack of course strength number one, is inactivity, we just don’t work out enough, we’re not moving enough. Number two, is sitting and that’s largely a product of our environment, we sit at a desk, we work, we’re driving, we can’t really help that. Number three and this is something that we can work on is doing the right exercises making sure that we are specifically focusing on our core with our workouts and that’s what I’m going to show you in this video. I’m going to show you three postures the first one is a staff pose, the second one is called boat and then the third one is called just a reverse crunch all these exercises help with strengthening your core and I’m going to explain them in depth as we move through them I’m going to give you the technique, I’m going to tell you where you should be feeling a posture, so where in your body, how should you be feeling it and help you guide you through that exercises even though I’m here I’m still going to give you, give you instructions and hopefully make you feel like I’m there with you and then lastly I’m going to give you a plan, how you can use these exercises moving forward. So personally before I did these exercises I thought that I had a really strong core and it turned out that I was missing out on a ton of stuff, so these exercises were life changing for me, they helped to improve my core strength to a degree that I didn’t even know I could achieve. I really in the exercises the workouts that I was doing before this I’ve been an athlete my whole life the exercises, I was doing I was doing crunches, planks you know things that we would traditionally do as athletes or if you’re familiar with fitness but these exercises added an entirely new aspect of course strength to my overall strength so I’m going to show you those right now.
Now this is the intermediate section, so if this appears to or if you start this off and it seems a little difficult or maybe you want to move up the difficulty feel free to do that. First exercise we’re doing is a staff pose, so for this we’re going to bring your legs straight out in front of you, about maybe six inches apart, we’re going to press the backs of our knees toward the ground, squeeze the legs toward one another, reach the toes back toward your shin. Now because this is intermediate, I want you to press your lower back forward and work on lifting up your chest so you should be able to make an L-shape with your body, if you need to support yourself with your hands or you find that you’re not quite up into the L-shape yet we’re going to move back down to beginner. So this is intermediate, pressing the backs of your knees toward the ground, reaching the tailbone down, and thinking of lifting your ribs up away from your hips, pushing the top of your head toward the ceiling. So you should have a slight arch to your lower back that’s a neutral spine, the legs are very engaged, you want to feel your hip flexors, your quadriceps, even your toes are reaching back toward you, your chest is open, maybe even the palms facing forward, we really want to feel the abs working here head pressing up. So total body engagement mostly in the core, we also got a lot of hip action going on, leg squeezing toward one another don’t forget about that. The leg squeezing toward one another helps with inner thigh stability which also helps to turn on your core. The chest lifting up that’s what works on your lower abdominal strength, this is that aspect of core strength that I discussed that’s hard to achieve without the right exercises. So you are going to feel maybe something different here, now to add a little bit more we can lift our arms up all the way and try to make that straight line and this is what’s going to make this very difficult. So this is intermediate this is staff pose, moving on, before I move on you want to do that for about thirty to sixty seconds and you should do two total. So if you want to work up on this on your own you can do this one every day and it’s great to do before a workout, you can wrap up a workout with this to add a little more challenge to your core, do it beforehand to make sure that your core is turned on, activated and doing all the right things in your workout.
All right now number two, we’re going to a boat pose and this is a difficult exercise but it’s extremely rewarding. So for boat, I’m going to have you bring your feet in toward your hips and I’m going to start you out with your hands on your knees just like this, legs are lightly squeezing toward one another and you want to feel your hips engage, so these muscles right at the top of your hips, these are your hip flexors, you should feel as muscles turn on they’re going to lean back just a little bit and your goal here is to kind of form or sort V from your knees to your shoulders, right with your hips as that lower V point and we’re going to work on lifting the chest up and almost pointing your sternum toward the ceiling. Now here’s where this gets hard but where it gets fun, so what I want you to do from here is lift your legs off the ground but maintain the flatness in your lower back. So we’re just going to hover the feet off the ground, bring your arms out in front of you and this is where this gets hard, so now I’ve got my hip flexors firing, I’m working on my core strength and then bring your knees together, squeeze your legs together and work on lifting your chest up so again the chest is continually lifting up, pointing up to the ceiling. I’m not letting my lower back slouch like this, so if you see or you notice that you’re slouching and trying to round your back, try to get out of that, work on lifting your sternum up, squeezing the legs together, bringing the arms out and even looking up. So your going to hold this for thirty to sixty seconds and as you’re doing it, you want to work on continuously getting more height, more length through your spine and also keeping those legs engaged, that’s going to help out your core. So this is a nice full body movement, teaches you to integrate hip integration or hip strength, hip stability with core strength, which helps to reduce injury, helps to make your movements more powerful, makes your body more efficient.
So that is number two, again for this one, thirty to sixty seconds two reps total next and final exercise we’re doing reverse crunches. So this exercise is awesome for your core as well, I’m going to have you lay down on your back for this one, just bring your arms along your sides and release your head down and we’re going to work both legs this time, so beginner was just one leg, intermediate we’re doing both legs, if you want to squeeze your knees back toward you, flex your feet so the arches of your feet are engaged almost as if you were doing a squat against the air, knees squeezed toward your shoulders so your hip flexors are really turned on, your abs are turned on, your lower back, your belly buttons pressing down toward the ground and then from here bring your legs straight out in front of you trying to get your heels as far away from your body as you can and then squeezing your feet together, squeezing your thighs toward one another, trying to press the heels forward making your body as long as you can, arms are relaxed on the ground. The weight here should be in your abs, if you’re doing this and you feel it in your lower back bring your legs up a little bit more and you can tell from my shaking voice that this is difficult, this is hard, but this is so effective and even now I’m teaching here with this is my job but I’m still shanking as I do this. So even as you get better, as you get stronger this is still going to be an exercise you can come back to and work on and still get stronger from. So now we’re going to squeeze the knees back in toward the shoulders, knees squeezing toward the shoulders, lower back belly button pressing down, feet are still flexed and then bring your legs back out again, press the heels forward, drive the heels forward, squeeze your thighs toward one another and then that’s the exercise, again knees come back to the shoulders and then releasing. So there are a couple ways to do this, you can do this and hold it for maybe ten seconds, so getting the legs straight out, holding out for ten seconds and then doing, and then from there bringing it back in, squeezing the knees toward the shoulders and holding that you can also do it maybe fifteen or twenty seconds, you can do it with the breath, right so yoga is a lot about breathing, so one way we would do that is inhaling straight out, exhaling to hold, inhaling back, exhaling to hold, inhaling out, exhaling to tighten, inhaling old, exhaling back, inhaling out, right, so there’s a lot of variations ways that you can play with that to make it more challenging, make more dynamic or just make it change it up from time to time.
So those are your three exercises and for this one for the for those reversed crunches we’re going to that for about sixty seconds total tension. So just set a timer do that for sixty seconds if you want to take it up a notch, do that for ninety seconds or even one hundred twenty seconds, you’ll notice it in your core, if you’re doing it correctly, if you’re really driving the legs forward, if you’re really squeezing the thighs together and really squeezing your abs, you’re definitely going to notice this one. All right, so you’ve got a plan now I’ve given you three exercises, told you how long you should be doing them for, giving you the amount of total reps. Now the best way to to get going with these is obviously to do them with a full workout so I’ve also included just below this video a few workouts from the members area, which build on these exercises that we’ve already done. So if you want to sign up get straight to those core strength, get straight to those core focused workouts, click the button below, sign up, you’ll get immediate access for just one dollar. Otherwise thanks for joining me for your first free lesson from Man Flow Yoga, I’m looking forward to seeing you on the next one.
So let’s start, why is core strength important? You have more core strength; you have overall more body power. That means that you have more athletic performance, so better lunges, better jumps, better squats. It means that you have more endurance, more power, and it even means that you have more libido but apart from that core strength isn’t just optional, it’s essential to being able to move pain free, to having a pain free back, to having a healthy body. So when we don’t have core strength we’re at risk for lower back pain, we’re at risk for even surgery, hernia discs, all these things come up as a result of a lack of core strength. There are a few reasons why we don’t have, well most of us don’t have core strength, number one is just because of inactivity, and we don’t move enough. Number two, is we sit too much and a lot of that isn’t our fault, our environments have chairs, they have desks, we drive in cars and we don’t really have a choice about whether we sit or not. Number three, and this is the last reason I’ll talk about is that most of our workouts just don’t have the proper exercises to build core strength. So even if we are working out were not specifically focusing on our core and that’s a problem. What I’m going be showing you in this lesson are the three most effective yoga postures for building core strength. I’m going to show you how to do them so the technique, I’m going to tell you where exactly you should be feeling it so that you know how to do it correctly and I’m going to tell you how each posture relates to your fitness. Finally at the end of that I’m going to tell you, I’m at the end of each posture I’m going to tell you how many reps to do, how long should hold it for, so that you can do it on your own moving forward.
So let’s get into it, the first of these exercises is a staff post so this is an awesome exercise and before I get started I want to say even though I thought I had a really strong core before I did yoga, I was missing out on so much and these exercises help to show, help to reveal weaknesses in your core that you didn’t thought even existed. So we’re going to start off sitting flat with your legs straight out in front of you, now the goal here is to make an L-shape with your body and get as tall as you can in this seated position, it’s going to use your whole body. So we are going to start with your feet reaching back toward your body, the backs of your knees pressing toward the ground and the legs squeezing toward one another. By the way this is the advanced version, so if you are starting this and you’re just thinking, oh absolutely not, jump back to the intermediate or beginner version, there is a tab at the top of this. So we are going to work on pressing the legs down the ground, squeezing your legs toward one another, so getting the thighs really active, you should start feeling burning in your hips and in your thighs and we are going to work on lifting your chest toward the ceiling. So I’m pressing my lower back forward, tightening my abs to really squeeze in my abdominals. Thinking of reaching the tailbone down, eliminating any rounding in the back and then pressing the top of the head up, getting as tall as I can, still keeping that leg engagement and then from here, I’m going to lift my arms all the way up and then press my fingertips toward the ceiling, getting this tall as I can, again pushing the lower back toward the bellybutton, squeezing the abs tightly even reaching the tailbone down, so getting that neutral spine, so a slate curve to your spine, that’s a neutral and then at the top of the head pressing up so I’m getting taller, I’m getting more core engagement from lifting up and then the arms at an even greater element of difficulty to this posture. You really feel this working, you’ll feel your thighs engaged, squeezing your legs toward one another, the inner thighs are engaged, the hip flexors are engaged, the core is tight and your’e getting stretching through your shoulders.
Whew, go ahead and release that. So you are going to do the staff post for since this is advanced, I want you to try to 45 to 60 seconds and you want make sure that you are getting as tall as you can the whole time and keeping muscle activation the whole time so your legs are constantly engaged, your abs are constantly engaged, and you’re holding that for a minimum of 45 seconds. Do those twice, try to get to 60 seconds both times.
All right, next exercise is a boat and this is an awesome, it’s an amazing posture for building your core strength. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before doing yoga so this one, you’re still going to be a seated position but we’re going to bring your feet in this time toward your hips like this, you want to start by reaching your tailbone down and lifting your chest up. Now if you can keep your back flat in this position, I’m going to have you move down to intermediate. So we are working on engaging the hip flexors so your hip flexors right the tops of your hips right here should be turned on, reaching the tailbone down, making your back flat and then you want to aim your sternum up at the ceiling, so almost leaning back a little bit. Now from hear your arms come out in front of you, now this is the intermediate version to move up we are going to bring the legs toward one another, press your thighs together. Now keeping the lower back flat, extend your legs forward and reach your toes back toward you, so this is a lot of core, this is a lot of leg and we want to get the legs locked out, squeezing the thighs toward one another, reaching the tailbone down, pointing the toes up and notice I’m kind of in a boat position here, right so I’m in that L-position but I’m balancing on my sit bones. Lifting the chest up, getting taller, lifting the legs up, arms extended out in front of me, legs pressed together and then releasing.
So that one is really tough, you probably noticed me shaking, that’s tough even for me especially if I don’t do any warm up. So this is an amazing one for building core strength, the difficult part about this one is keeping your back flat. So a lot of people will do boat like this and as soon as they lift up, they will cave in like this, this is not boat pose, this does something for you but not the right thing. We want to make sure that the lower back is flat in this position, that the sternum is lifted up and that’s going to help you develop that lower abdominal strength that is so elusive too many of us. That’s going to help with directly on alleviating lower back pain, helps with SI joint instability, so if you ever have pain right in the lower spine, this directly addresses that.
So to work on this boat pose, try it for 30 seconds and then build up to 60 seconds, especially if you’re working on boat pose with the legs extended and you can do that for two reps total. So it takes about 90 seconds that’s it.
All right next exercise, the final one, we are going to do doing a reverse crunch hold with leg extensions. So for this one, you’re going to go flat on your back, arms along your sides, and then we are going to work on bringing the legs straight out in front of you. So, level one was just one leg at a time, level two is both legs up and level three is going to be shoulders up too. So we want to squeeze the legs together, reach the toes back towards you, drive the heels forward so you’re making your body as long as you can, really press the heels forward, try to make your legs as long as possible, press your lower back, your belly button toward the ground, bring your arms straight behind you and then lift your shoulders off the ground too. So this is a bit more than a reverse crunch, it’s actually a leg extension with your arms up but we are working on holding this. So one of the cool things about yoga is that it’s slow moving or it’s not moving at all, it’s isometric and that is one of the best ways to build muscle and to build stability. So physical therapists will use isometric exercises because it helps to re-build muscle after patients have been injured. We’re doing, where borrowing that technique here because it’s so effective for building muscle and this is the one he can hold for 60 maybe even 90 seconds, the higher you get with your arms and your shoulders, the more difficult it is. If you lift your legs up, that makes it easier, so keep your feet hovering about six inches off the ground and then when you’re done, bring the knees back in and release.
So, that is lesson number one, core strength and stability, so I showed you the advance portion. Now, below I’ve listed some helpful workouts to help you elaborate, to help you build on what we just did. Obviously you got three grade exercises under your belt now, you can start doing immediately, you can start doing them on a daily basis if you want to but if you really want to delve into this stuff and learn a little bit more about strengthening your core, get some tougher workouts, challenge your body and get stronger, sign up for the Man Flow Yoga members area, this is just one dollar, gets you access to all the content, tutorials, workout programs, much more and this is just the first day, so I do want to make sure that you are getting something out of these lessons.
So keep on doing the lessons, we’ve got six more coming but again if you want to jump on to the full workouts and really dive into the stuff, the offer is there, seven day trial is just one dollar, that’s a buck for a unlimited access to all my content. So, thanks for joining me for this first lesson, from the free intro to Man Flow Yoga. I’m really excited to have you here, if you’re enjoying this and you want to share with a friend, please do so, just share manflowyoga.com with them and they will be able to find the seven day intro for themselves, otherwise post about it on Facebook, share it on Twitter, on Instagram, I would love for that, if you are finding it beneficial and I look forward to seeing you on lesson two tomorrow, it’s hips and glutes, I’ll see you then.
This lesson covers
- The most effective yoga exercises for strengthening your core
- The importance of core strength for your fitness
- A plan to continue strengthening your core moving forward.
(3 poses, 3 difficulty variations)
- Reverse Crunches
You must be a member of the Man Flow Yoga Members’ Area in order to view.
Ready to get started?
Access hundreds of workouts, tutorials, and the Man Flow Yoga community:
Join Today for Instant Access!