Core strength

I’ve always associated exercises using core strength to simply using our abdominal muscles or 6 packs abs.
The 6 packs abs that many of us envy is the most superficial abdominals muscle known as the rectus abdominis. This is a long flat muscle that is divided into four bellies by horizontal fibrous bands. In a low body fat percentage fit individual, the rectus abdominis provides the flat washboard look on them. Envy. In females, you would likely be able to see a well defined abdominals rectus, external obliques if the body fat percentage is between 16-19%. In males, the percentage is much lower at 6-9%.

Lesson planning in core strength has deepened my understanding that it is more than just engaging the rectus abdominis. It not only engages the rest of the abdominal muscles such as internal and external obliques, and transverse abdominis, core strength engages the other major muscles group such as the hips and spine. In the hips musculature, the muscles involved are iliopsoas, rectus femoris, sartorius, tensor fascia lata, pectineus, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, semimembranosus, semitendinosus, biceps femoris, adductor longus, brevius, magnus, superior and inferior gamellus, internus and externus obturator, quadratus femoris and piriformis. In the spinal musculature, these muscles are erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, paraspinals, trapezius, psoas major, multifidus, iliocastalis lumborum and thoracis, rotatores, latissimus dorsi and serratus anterior.

Little known to many, the muscle that sits are the true core of the body is the respiratory diaphragm. As the name suggest, respiratory diaphragm is responsible for our breathing. Yogis believe that breathing is the true connection to life. When this connection becomes strong and unrestricted, the body becomes stronger mentally and physically.

In a core strength yoga class, there is a balance of on engaging all these core muscles with focus on developing a strong and steady breath. Ujjayi pranayama is one of the best breathing technique as it allows us to hold on to our asanas longer, enabling us to engage our core.

Having a strong core helps us in many ways; it strengthen our back, providing a healthy back ( bye bye low back pain! ), enhances our performance in sports ( hello more reps, stronger physique! ), improves our balance and stability ( bye bye falling! ), gives us a good posture ( look great and confident! ) and enables us to perform our daily activities with more ease and less fatigue. In a nutshell, this equals efficiency in life!

Shirley Koh
YTT September 2017 weekday cohort