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Yoga Core Strength Exercises

Updated on January 12, 2016
Tap in to the power of different abdominal muscles with varied angles of this exercise.
Tap in to the power of different abdominal muscles with varied angles of this exercise.
This version of plank with one leg lifted wakes up stabilizing muscles all over your body.
This version of plank with one leg lifted wakes up stabilizing muscles all over your body.
Fly! And feel your back body get strong so it can support your spine more fully, and look more toned.
Fly! And feel your back body get strong so it can support your spine more fully, and look more toned.

Finding Core Strength and Balance in Your Life With Yoga

Can yoga connect you with your core strength physically as well as mentally and emotionally? Absolutely! And I’ll give you some great ways to connect to your core here.

Having a strong body is essential to finding total harmony in all aspects of your life. Yet discovering your optimal state means taking a look at your tendencies.

Do you tend to do more strengthening than stretching in your physical activities? Yoga can help you do both at the same time. If you’re more physically focused you might also consider supplementing your daily routine with meditative practices which have been shown in numerous studies to improve overall performance as well as helping you find peace of mind.

Do you tend to have a more gentle practice when it comes to being active? Liven up your body and find more energy by adding core strengthening exercises at least 3 times a week.

Personally, I consider a well rounded ongoing practice one that has lots of variety and covers all the bases. Every week I make sure I give myself the following:

Yoga practices with different focuses such as:

  • Hip openers
  • Back bends
  • Core strengthening
  • Arm balances and standing balances
  • Forward bends and twists
  • Restorative if my body needs rest and recuperation

Daily exercise of varied intensity like:

  • Running
  • Walking
  • Dancing
  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Going to the gym and using an Elliptical machine or similar

Daily meditation: *This is key for keeping myself and others around me happy!*

Yoga Core Strength Exercises

Alright, here we go.

The following video includes a short but effective sequence that will work your entire body with a focus on the core stabilizing muscles of your torso and spine. Yes, this includes your abs and back muscles, but it goes further than that by using alignment and variety to engage the stabilizers in your shoulders, hips, legs and arms.

When you watch the video, take note of the alignment used in each pose as it is key to keeping the body safe and getting the most out of each exercise. The alignment instructions are informed by the Universal Principles of Alignment™ of Anusara® yoga, which is a highly respected system for optimal circulation and overall health.


Core Strength Exercises Video

Downward Dog - Make sure you keep your lower back long, not rounded up. Bend your knees if you need to. Your heels do not need to touch the ground.
Downward Dog - Make sure you keep your lower back long, not rounded up. Bend your knees if you need to. Your heels do not need to touch the ground.
Warrior II - Keep your knee directly over your ankle and pointing the same direction as your 2nd and 3rd toes.
Warrior II - Keep your knee directly over your ankle and pointing the same direction as your 2nd and 3rd toes.
Reverse Warrior - Keep your knee bent above the ankle and stay lifted in the side of your body that you're bending over so you don't feel collapsed.
Reverse Warrior - Keep your knee bent above the ankle and stay lifted in the side of your body that you're bending over so you don't feel collapsed.
Cobra Variation - When doing this pose make sure you keep your body long from the hips to the armpits, and that the shoulders move back, shoulder blades coming more onto your back. Do NOT push the shoulders down away from your ears.
Cobra Variation - When doing this pose make sure you keep your body long from the hips to the armpits, and that the shoulders move back, shoulder blades coming more onto your back. Do NOT push the shoulders down away from your ears.
Twisting Ab Exercise - Keep the sides of your body long and the shoulders pushing into the floor. Maintain the natural curves of the spine and spread your toes to engage the stabilizing muscles in the hips and legs.
Twisting Ab Exercise - Keep the sides of your body long and the shoulders pushing into the floor. Maintain the natural curves of the spine and spread your toes to engage the stabilizing muscles in the hips and legs.

Here’s a re-cap of the sequence with a few tips:


  • Downward Dog
  • Plank (like the top of a push-up)
  • Downward Dog
  • Plank to Chaturunga to Plank (a slow push-up, with a hold half-way - do multiple reps)
  • Downward Dog, one leg up for a hip/thigh stretch
  • Plank
  • Cobra (an invigorating backbend *DO NOT FORCE* but use your breath to find your optimal back bend in each practice)
  • Downward Dog
  • Plank with one foot lifted (feel the core stabilizing muscles doing their thing)
  • Downward Dog
  • Warrior II and Reverse Warrior (longer holds will increase the challenge and strengthening effects)
  • Cobra variation - hands clasped
  • Flying yogi - arms, chest, and legs off the floor (longer holds will increase the challenge and strengthening effects)
  • Downward Dog to Forward Bend
  • Twisting abdominal exercises (This also strengthens the shoulder rotator muscles as the shoulders press into the ground. To increase difficulty, straighten your legs. *DO NOT LET SHOULDERS LIFT* and PLEASE keep a natural curve in your neck and back)
  • Leg lowering abdominal exercises (Use different angles to work different areas in the abs. Again, keep a natural curve to the spine and neck.)

Multiple reps of each exercise will help you get the most out of them. Suggested reps are included in the video, but use your own judgment.

**At no point should you be in acute pain. If it hurts, stop and check your alignment. Forcing or straining increases risk of injury. You are responsible for your own safety.**

Yes, it should be a challenge, but if something hurts it’s indicating a misalignment. Listen to your body, it is a very wise being and will tell you if you need to change something.

Consulting with an experienced yoga teacher is the best way to learn this alignment so you truly know how to get the most out of your practice in the safest way.

If you don't meditate yet, give it a shot. You may find you actually like it and that your life improves tremendously because of it.
If you don't meditate yet, give it a shot. You may find you actually like it and that your life improves tremendously because of it.

Connecting to Your Core with Meditation

If you have never tried or considered meditation, just think about this for a minute: Some of the most successful and respected people in the world meditate every day and attribute a great deal of their success to this practice.

Meditation is one of the most effective and rewarding ways to strengthen your true core; the essence of who you are. It keeps you sane in a world that can be more than a little crazy.

I have a free yoga meditation service on my website that helps you integrate meditation easily and realistically into your busy life. I would love to see you there!

The Importance of Variety

The body is an amazingly complex organism, capable of more than we can imagine. Due to its ingenious design, your body really wants you to use it in many different ways so it stays healthy and continues to evolve.

Think of it this way, if you ate the same thing every day you’d get bored and your nutritional intake would suffer. If you do the same type of workout all the time, you’re missing out – not just on the fun and stimulation, but on the physical and other benefits of different activities and practices.

Now, there is something to be said about having a routine that you know and one that works for you, just don’t get stuck in it and forget to try new things.

Every day in my yoga practice I add different poses. I have some postures I do every time, but there are others I rotate in which strengthen and stretch my muscles differently. Having this variety also engages my focus and develops my ability to stay present.

Adding variety in every aspect of your life expands your capacity as a human being in so many ways. Give it a try:

  • Take a new route next time you run, walk, or bike, or try a new activity altogether
  • Experiment with different foods, books, music, or movies
  • Meet someone new and see where the conversation takes you

By willfully engaging in the vast spectrum of life, your core grows stronger and your comfort zone gets ever wider. Remember to have fun!

Vashistasana is the name of this pose, and there are lots of steps to get to this full expression of the pose that are just as much fun. The wild and wonderful world of yoga is full of unlimited possibility!
Vashistasana is the name of this pose, and there are lots of steps to get to this full expression of the pose that are just as much fun. The wild and wonderful world of yoga is full of unlimited possibility!

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    • profile image

      jerri 7 years ago

      What a great, challenging practice. You provided clear instructions and beautiful visuals. The suggestions and tips are very helpful. The entire article is motivating and uplifting. It is just what I needed, when I needed it most. This is an excellant way to start 2010. Thank you for being such a bright shining star!

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Jerri,

      You're so welcome! I'm grateful I can provide something of value to you. And, yes, I think we all need a little more challenge in the New Year to balance out the treats and festivities of the Holiday Season. Enjoy your practice!

    • AlexK2009 profile image

      AlexK2009 7 years ago from Edinburgh, Scotland

      I like this and have bookmarked the hub. I will see if these exercises will strengthen my body and improve my balance for Capoeira

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      nice one, thanks, easy steps too, maita

    • profile image

      Lioratova 7 years ago

      Katrina, this is amazing! And very inspirational for me to get back into Yoga!!

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Alex,

      Thanks for bookmarking the hub. Let me know if you feel a difference incorporating these exercises with your Capoeira. I would think they would complement each other very well.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Maita,

      I'm glad you found the exercises clear and that you've enjoyed the hub. Thanks for the comment.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Lioratova,

      That's great! Yoga is so rewarding. I sincerely hope you continue to feel motivated by it - if you just get your practice going your body will keep asking for more.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 7 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I just learned from your hub that I really don't do enough stretching. I'm bookmarking this so I can reference it some more. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on being nominated HubNugget Wannabe.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks Glenn! I hope you get a lot out of the stretches and exercises here and on my other Hubs. And I didn't even know I'd been nominated - ha! Big gratitude for the head's up. :)

    • Ben Zoltak profile image

      Ben Zoltak 7 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Wow Katrina, what a wonderfully down to earth and detailed article. Other Yoga writing/pics that I've looked at in the past leave holes in the details. I am bookmarking this one! Hope this stuff strengthens my back!

      Na Astrovia!

      Ben

    • Elven  Hottie profile image

      Elven Hottie 7 years ago from USA

      This is a good article! You have obviously done your research and have found good pictures to demonstrate what you are talking about.

      Congrats on your nomination.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
      Author

      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Ben,

      Down to earth and detailed - those are great descriptions of what I strive to offer. Thanks for noticing! Let me know if you have any questions as you go through this and progress with your yoga practice.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Elven Hottie,

      First of all I love your profile pic. I'm part elf myself, also part cat and part hobbit. I'm so glad you enjoyed the article. I have indeed done my research - thousands of hours of training and teaching, meditating and practicing. I'm also happy you found the photos helpful - that's me doing those poses. :)

      I'm very grateful that I was nominated. Super honored.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      It is a joyful moment to connect with a yoga lover! I love these exercises and are doing many of those that you have outlined here. In fact, by next week, my teachers and I will be having a yoga session and I will definitely use this hub for reference!

      Katrina, warm congratulations from the Hubnuggets Team for your nomination. Exercise, yoga and meditation is perfect to lead us into a having a great healthy life! Vote and promote okay?

      Are you a yoga lover too? Have you enjoyed this hub? Vote now: http://hubpages.com/hubnuggets10/hub/Presenting-Pr...

    • profile image

      Debbie from Kamloops 7 years ago

      Once again you have raised the bar on my yoga practise.

      Always a devoted follower. Debbie

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

      WOW, good instructions and very informative hub on Yoga! Congratulations on being nominated as a HubNugget Wannabe. :)

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
      Author

      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Ripplemaker,

      Big gratitude to you for the recognition. I'm thrilled to connect with a fellow yogini and happy you're already doing some of the exercises outlined here. Hope you enjoy the new ones.

      I see on your blog that you work with young ones - do you play with them through yoga? Young kids naturally do so many yoga poses, I love seeing how they spontaneously go into down dog or happy baby pose. I've also been following articles that show yoga helping kids who are labeled ADD and ADHD. It's such a powerful practice.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Debbie,

      Blessings and Grace dear friend. Om Namah Shivaya.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Money Glitch,

      Many thanks for your kind words and for recognizing the potency of the Hub. I sure hope you are able to take something of value from it. I'm thrilled that it won a nomination - what a gift!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Yes we do a bit of it during Sports month. :) But I would like to learn more about it. That would be fun esp. if we could incorporate it into the curriculum. Hmmm....as for helping kids with ADD and ADHD, this is exciting. I would love to read more about this! :)

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      I think one of the best ways to do yoga in a classroom is to take little bits of yoga and break up the day with it. For instance, in the middle of a time where they're expected to sit for a while, have them get up, reach their legs into the earth and their fingers toward the sun, then just fly their arms up and down slowly with the breath. Or do a couple poses to get the breath and body circulating, which can really help focus.

      As for more info on yoga helping ADD and ADHD, maybe it'll be a future Hub. :)

    • donotfear profile image

      donotfear 7 years ago from The Boondocks

      I'm going to start practicing this on the days I don't work out at Curves. Stretching is always an important part after my workout anyway.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      DoNotFear - what's your name friend? So glad you're inspired by this practice. It's a great way to supplement your current workout routine. Thanks for saying hello.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I will look forward to that Katrina. Thanks for the tips :)

    • Laura Spector profile image

      Laura Spector 7 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand

      Very inspiring! I feel a stretch coming on right now..

      I look forward to reading more hubs from you. Thanks for sharing! Cheers!

    • profile image

      AEA 7 years ago

      Wonderful!! Great little laptop in the livingroom stretchfest! Thank you.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Laura, I'm so glad you're inspired to stretch. Enjoy the dance of your breath and body. Thanks for visiting!

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Allison, thanks for stopping by my Hub. Stretchfest is a lovely word - have fun with that. :)

    • nextstopjupiter profile image

      nextstopjupiter 7 years ago from here, there and everywhere

      I started practicing yoga about a year ago, and it was very helpful for me. Thank you for this well written hub, it reflects most of my experiences.

    • Karen Banes profile image

      Karen Banes 7 years ago from Canada

      Great comprehensive yoga hub, and very timely for me. Just returned to yoga classes after a long break. Can't believe I let myself get out of such a good habit.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      NextStopJupiter,

      Hi! I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub and that your yoga practice has been so rewarding. Thanks for connecting with me here. :)

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Karen,

      Isn't it funny how we can sometimes fall out of some of the most beneficial things? The great part is, we can start back up at any time, and after a few weeks it becomes habit to continue that new pattern. Blessings on your newly revisited yoga practice. May it be a life-long friend for you.

      Thanks for reading and commenting here. :)

    • SEM Pro profile image

      SEM Pro 7 years ago from North America

      Wonderful hub Katrina! You have my vote and I too will be bookmarking and incorporating your advice into my life. It's exactly what I've needed lately! Thanks, Sylvia

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
      Author

      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Sylvia,

      Wow, thank you! I'm so glad you found the info and exercises in this article helpful and timely. Enjoy your practice!

    • profile image

      Gary  7 years ago

      Your movement flows so beautifully with the element of strength, for me as someone who works with and finds human movement fascinating to me that was life and art working in harmony. Thank you

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
      Author

      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Gary,

      That's so kind, thank you! To me yoga is a scientific art: Grace and breath are its lifeblood, while the dance between strength and surrender constantly refines into harmony.

    • profile image

      PWalker281 7 years ago

      Great hub with lots of good info and excellent visuals. Congrats on your nomination! I do a little yoga in the evening (sun salutation) to loosen up to make going to sleep easier, but haven't been able to since I hurt my shoulder. Looking forward to getting back into once the shoulder heals.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
      Author

      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      PWalker,

      I'm really glad you enjoyed my hub - thanks for your comment! I hope your shoulder heals quickly and you're back to enjoying your practice. If you're interested, you may want to see if there's an Anusara yoga instructor in your area to help you in recovery by learning how to optimally align your shoulder in order to train the muscles to support the structure. I know it has helped many people heal more quickly and avoid further injury. Just an open suggestion.

      Blessings,

      Katrina

    • microwave profile image

      microwave 7 years ago from Briton

      you're inspired to stretch.I'm teacher. Sure I focus to my student about your beautiful hub. Thanks.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
      Author

      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Microwave,

      I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. I hope your students get great ideas and inspiration from it. Thanks for sharing!

    • daisyjae profile image

      daisyjae 7 years ago from Canada

      Nice hub! I tried your video and loved it. I saved it as a favorite on youtube. Hope there are more to come.

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
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      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Daisyjae,

      So glad you enjoyed the video, and thanks for letting me know! Yes, there will be more to come - there's quite a few videos on Youtube to start with, but rest assured I'll keep the good stuff comin'. :)

    • Papa Sez profile image

      Papa Sez 7 years ago from The Philippines to Canada

      You are right Katrina about kids wanting to do yoga. My son and his classmates initiated on-the-spot yoga sessions a few months back without anyone prodding them. It's unfortunate that we hadn't followed up on their interest. I'd love to practice it myself. Can it be done without formal personal instructions?

      Regards, Papa Sez

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
      Author

      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Papa Sez,

      Oh how I wish someone had led me to yoga when I was a kid! I think it would've helped me move more gracefully through my teenage years. ;)

      Yes, yoga can be done without formal instruction, however the risk there is being mis-aligned, and perhaps setting yourself up for injury. However, there are lots of DVDs and other resources that help you learn how to do yoga at home. My highest suggestion is to find an Anusara yoga teacher if you can, or another teacher you like, and take at least a few classes with them to complement your home practice.

      There are many resources on my website as well: http://www.yogawithkatrina.com/category/yoga-video...

      Most important is just moving, breathing, and being present in the moment. It brings such a feeling of well-being and peace. Blessings with your practice!

    • Papa Sez profile image

      Papa Sez 7 years ago from The Philippines to Canada

      Thanks for the tips Katrina and the link. Your site is awesome and I'd like to give time exploring it.

      Best regards, Papa Sez

    • profile image

      PWalker281 7 years ago

      Katrina, I'll definitely look for this kind of yoga instructor here in Hawaii. Thanks for the recommendation!

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
      Author

      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      PWalker,

      There are some great Anusara yoga instructors in Hawaii. What a beautiful place to practice! Enjoy, and thanks for saying hello here. :)

    • Shealy Healy profile image

      Shealy Healy 7 years ago from USA

      It is good to see this hub. I am a teacher of a practice of Yoga and Core Conditioning. It takes good balance to create a class the style you have mentioned. You have to be careful to work for strength yet stretch too. And,you have to take time to meditate and restore a bit. But, not let the group get bored. Good job..

      Shealy

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
      Author

      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Shealy,

      Thanks for your comment. You're right, it takes a lot of skill and awareness to be able to find the right balance in a class, or even on your own. Yet by really listening to yourself and the energy of the practice, balance is not as elusive as we may think. I like the elements you mentioned in your comment. Sounds like you offer a well rounded approach!

    • kea profile image

      kea 7 years ago

      Great hub! Core strength is the key to a healthy active lifestyle! I have back issues from an old football injury and use Yoga and core exercises to improve my "core". Thanks for the informative hub!

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
      Author

      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Kea,

      Thanks for your comment. I'm so glad yoga is helping you, and I do hope it relieves the back issues entirely for you. Thanks again for reading.

    • Roffi Grandiosa profile image

      Roffi Grandiosa 7 years ago from Bandung, Indonesia

      this is a great hub!

    • Katrina Ariel profile image
      Author

      Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks Roffi! Great that you came for a visit.

    • profile image

      yoga business 7 years ago

      Fantastic hub, content and pictures. Thanks!

    • AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

      Adele Cosgrove-Bray 7 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England.

      A good Hub; very informative.

    • dawnM profile image

      Dawn Michael 7 years ago from THOUSAND OAKS

      loved this hub!! I try and do some type of yoga everyday. I always come back to yoga when I feel stressed out my back hurts, the peace and over all mood when I am done with the yoga is amazing. your pictures and the detail that you used in this hub are excellent. Great job!!!!

    • profile image

      DePuy Pinnacle recall 6 years ago

      Thanks for this info Katrina! Doing Yoga to strengthen the core muscles is so important, especially for those suffering from defective Pinnacle hip replacements that need to improve their overall health. The exercises are ideal too since they are low impact. Thanks again for sharing!

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