TIPS ON TUESDAYS: Core Galore

February 7, 2017 | by Michelle Meier

TIPS ON TUESDAYS are weekly tips offering you therapeutic yoga poses to help you improve your health, combat stress or recover from an injury and/or mindfulness techniques to give you that extra boost you need.

Getting back into the swing of things with yoga and the gym to strengthen back up since the holidays is proving to be challenging but I'm pushing through, making sure I get enough rest in between, too.  

Rest is just as imporant as keeping the body moving!

Today we're going to keep it short and sweet.  And, yeah, with a little bit of a burn because what is a good core workout without the burn?!

So I'm building upon last week's core strengthener, side plank pose.  I love this variation on the elbow, as it takes pressure off the wrist and the shoulder, therefore making it more accessible to anyone with wrist issues such as carpal tunnel or anyone with weak shoulders.

The variation I've added of sweeping the arm across the chest and underneath the opposite armpit is the zinger (do enough of those and it'll burn so good!).  Your core will thank you later for it.  Yes, you're welcome.

HOW TO DO IT:

  • Lying on your side, prop yourself up onto your elbow, aligning it right under the shoulder with the forearm and palm perpendicular to the body (creating a nice right angle)
  • Stack the feet and lift the hips up, drawing the navel in towards the spine
  • Press down into the bottom forearm while at the same time lift up through the shoulder (imagine arrows of energy going in each direction, up and down, along your upper arm)
  • On an inhale, reach the top arm straight over head 
  • On the exhale, reach that arm across the chest and through the space between the bottom armpit and ribs, making sure to keep the navel in
  • Return to starting position on an inhale and repeat (I used to do 3 sets of 10 on each side but this week I'm only on 3 sets of 5 per side and building up)**

SUPER EXTRA HELPFUL BONUS TIPS:

  • These hips don't lie! When stacked in your side plank, make sure the hips don't collapse or you could be dumping the weight in the shoulder--remember we want to engage the core to do the work.
  • Try a little help from your friends.  The wall can be your best friend.  Pressing your feet against a wall while in side plank helps to activate the quads and calves which, in turn, support the core especially during the swinging action of your top arm across your chest in the twist.
  • The forearm will want to torque open while in this side plank variation on the elbow.  Spread all the fingers and root down through all 5 knuckles.  What helps me is pressing down into the webbing between my index finger and thumb to keep the forearm internally rotating and safe.
  • It is better to do less reps properly than to push yourself to do more, more, more and sacrifice your form in the process.

BENEFITS:

  • Strengthens the core, especially carving out the obliques
  • Strengthens upper arms, including the deltoids and triceps
  • Strengthens the quads and calves
  • Improves posture