Abs & Core Flexibility & Mobility Strength Yoga

Put Your “Back Into It” for a Strong and Balanced Core

Written by Kris Fondran

Not many people would be foolish enough to argue against the health benefits of building a strong core. And when you do it right, the byproduct is a beach worthy stomach that’ll give whiplash to everyone you walk past on the sand!

But as you work your way towards that 6 or 8 pack, you mustn’t forget that your “core” also includes the opposite side of your abs…

It’s important to counterbalance that new abdominal strength you’re developing by also working the mid and lower back. If your back muscles are weak but your ab muscles continue to grow in size and strength, there’s nothing to hold them to the spine, and poor posture and injury are very likely in your future.

Including back strengthening exercises in your core training helps you ward off back pain by keeping your spine supple, upright and strong.

So yeah… Put your “back into it” by giving one or both of these Shapeshifter Yoga challenge postures a try!

Half Locust Pose

Starting Position

Final Position

Half Locust (Ardha Shalabhasana)

Description

  • Begin in Advasana (Reverse Corpse Pose)
  • Place the hands beneath the thighs with palms facing downward.
  • Lift the head, resting the chin on the floor. If you feel discomfort in your neck, place your forehead on the floor instead.
  • On an inhalation, press the palms against the floor and lift the left leg. Keep your hip square to the floor and the heel lifting upward. Try not to rotate the hip while lifting the leg.
  • Pause at the top of the movement, then exhale while slowly lowering the leg to the ground.
  • To give your back a break, release your arms overhead with the head face-down on the mats before you change sides.
  • Repeat 5-10 times on each side.

Once you’ve nailed that pose, you can move on to this…. Shapeshifter  SUPER DUPER CHALLENGE!!

Locust Pose

Starting Position

Final Position

Locust Pose (Shalabhasana)

Description

  • Begin by lying face down on the mat.
  • Place the hands beneath the thighs with palms facing downward.
  • Lift the head, resting the chin on the floor. If you feel discomfort in your neck, place your forehead on the floor instead.
  • On an inhalation, press the palms against the floor and simultaneously raise both legs, keeping the legs together and straight.
  • Pause, exhale and slowly lower the legs to the ground.
  • To give your back a break, release your arms overhead with the head face-down on the mats.
  • Repeat 5-10 times.

I think you’ll find these a lot tougher than they look!

So let’s talk benefits. When practiced regularly, Half Locust and Locust will strengthen your lower back as well as the pelvic organs. Both postures can help reduce back pain and relieve mild cases of sciatica, and even slipped disc [The Shapeshifter Says: run these exercises by your doctor FIRST if you’re suffering from any pre-existing condition!] Locust pose also tightens the gluteal muscles, improving the shape of your butt.

Of course, we all come to our training with baggage in the form of prior injuries, imbalances and weaknesses. So when should you NOT attempt these two poses?

Contraindications: Locust Pose, the much more strenuous of the two, should NOT be practiced by those with high blood pressure or any kind of heart ailment. Because of the pressure placed on the abdomen and the stimulation and toning  of the liver, stomach, bowels, and other abdominal organs that occurs during this pose, those who’ve been diagnosed with peptic ulcer, hernia, or intestinal issues should also completely avoid this exercise.

So there you have it. Two great traditional yoga exercises to tone up your back and balance the “other side” of your core strength.

Give them a try and let us know how you did in the comments below!

Next ==> 11 Reasons You Should Be Doing Yoga…

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Kris Fondran

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