The Secret to all Balances….?
In a fitness or yoga class situation, if you are instructed to “engage your core” what do you automatically do?
Chances are you will tighten and/or squeeze something. Or even a lot of things – and it would take a lot more than a few lines of text here to go through the long term repercussions of this on your overall health. On a simple, gross, physical level though it just makes everything more difficult. The spine gets locked, the body feels stiff and there will be a lot more pressure on the joints. Everything feels much harder to do. We get tired quickly because it’s draining – it means everything requires more effort.
Personally, I prefer to make less effort and end up with the same result (and – touch wood – I’m not falling apart..!)
“Activate” your core might be a better instruction since at least the word “active” suggests movement, but again, what does it mean and how will this be interpreted in a modern world where squeezing and tensing in order to look like we have a flat tummy is the norm?
Ideally, activation of the core happens when we relax, adjust the posture slightly in a way that engages muscles organically and then breathe diaphragmatically – something that’s impossible when we habitually tense, tighten or “brace”.
This image shows the three stages of working towards astavakrasana – or eight-angle pose. We’ve done a couple of the simpler stages in class and it’s been great to see at least a couple of “aha” moments.
Poses are fun and can be challenging – but they don’t have much to do with yoga really and neither will they lead to enlightenment. (at least not of the sort that is usually the aim of yoga). However, enlightenment of the kind that you can do less, achieve more and be healthier is still pretty darn good!
If you are interested in attending our classes and workshops where we are challenged to rethink habitual movement patterns by using techniques that build all over , inside out, strength, flexibility and fitness through activating rather than impinging the “core”, sign up for our newsletter, book in to a session and keep a look out for special events.