It's really not all about having a flat tummy. Core strength is important for a healthy back and full range of motion as well. Anatomy breakdown: There's the rectis abdominis (the 6-pack) that helps us bend forward. The obliques (on the sides of the rectis) that help us bend side to side. The transverse abdominis (like a corset that goes from diaphragm to the pelvic floor) that helps us do the heavy lifting. And then there's deepest and the longest muscles, the psoas. These babies attach at the vertebra of your lumbar spine, wrap up and around your hip joint, and then secure to your femur at the inner thigh. Tighten that too much and your back will be hurting. So we strengthen, and lengthen for healthy core. Which brings me to the pose of the week: Dolphin Plank.
Looks fun, doesn't it?
1. Start in Table Top. Hands underneath your shoulders, knees on the floor underneath your hips.
2. Then, drop down to your forearms. Here, your forearms should be slightly narrower than your shoulders, the palms of your hands pressing into the earth. Keep the fingers spread wide.
3. Inhale and begin to straighten your legs, knees lifting off the floor.
4. Exhale, and walk your feet back until your shoulders are directly over the elbows and your torso is parallel to the floor. Press your inner forearms and elbows firmly against the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back and spread them away from the spine. Similarly spread your collarbones away from the sternum.
5. Now, press your front thighs toward the ceiling, but resist your tailbone toward the floor as you lengthen it toward the heels. Lift the base of your skull away from the back of the neck and look straight down at the floor, keeping the throat and eyes soft.
Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. Then, release your knees to the floor with an exhale. Rest in Child's pose.
A great follow up pose is Bridge, allowing your psoas to lengthen after all that toning. Healthy core, healthy back, and total integration = bliss.