Well-trained abdominal muscles are pliable, not chiseled or hard, and adapt quickly to change.
When we talk about core power, abdominal muscles come to mind. But our core is much more than that. It connects us to our feelings and moods via the nerves of our gastrointestinal system and our enteric nervous system, or “belly brain.” We might feel off kilter when our gut health is out of whack or disconnected from life when our bellies are hard and tight. We can also experience upset stomachs when we feel stressed, depressed, or sleep-deprived.
Here’s a fuller view of your core, or the space between the diaphragm and pelvic floor, wrapping around the torso—also known as “the midsection” and “abdominopelvic cavity.”
It includes numerous muscles, superficial and deep: rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transversus abdominis, multifidus, erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, and distal latissimus dorsi.
It is home to most of your viscera: stomach, spleen, small and large intestines, liver, gall bladder, kidneys, pancreas, bladder, and reproductive organs.
Your core muscles help control your posture and body position. For instance, the rectus abdominis works primarily to stabilize your rib cage in relation to your pelvis. The transversus abdominis and multifidus work with the pelvic floor and diaphragm to stabilize your lumbar spine. Your core muscles also produce and transfer force during dynamic movements such as vinyasa yoga or running, maintaining spinal stability in order to protect your nerves, disks, joints, and connective tissue. Try these asana to explore abdominal stabilization:
Don’t miss these strategies for supporting spinal health and keeping pain at bay.
Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people, according to the National Institutes of Health. The good news? Yoga-based therapeutics are affordable and accessible ways to alleviate and prevent back pain—acute or chronic—by improving the quality of your movements and by helping the left, right, front, and back sides of your body work together in a balanced way, on and off the mat.
First, it’s critical to understand good posture and put it to use; poor posture often leads to back pain. You can figure out if your vertebral column and pelvis are neutral—critical to good posture—by using several benchmarks. To learn, let’s look at Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
The vertebral column is most stable when aligned in its normal curves. Generally speaking, and in relation to the front of the body, the neck and low back display concave curves (lordosis), while the upper and middle back together display a convex curve (kyphosis), as does the sacrum.
The sacrum is a curved, bumpy bone that angles in toward the body at about 30 degrees, beginning at L5/S1; it does not point straight down.
The pelvic rim, or iliac crest, which marks the top of the pelvis, is fairly level.
The plumb line runs from the center of the ear opening (external auditory meatus), through the shoulder, outer hip (greater trochanter), outer knee, and outer ankle (lateral malleolus).
The cavities (“open” spaces) of your pelvis, belly, chest, and head feel balanced in relation to each other.
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