December Yoga Focus: Find your core



astoria oregon yoga sunsetHappy December! Welcome to the darkest time of the year if you're with us in the Northern Hemisphere. December brings with it many celebrations, opportunities for light within the darkness, and (hopefully!) time for reflection and quiet. To celebrate the deep dark things in life our monthly focus at Watershed Wellness will be on the core: finding strength and stability from within to support on the outside.

When you think about core, you might imagine someone with six pack abs. Many commonly think only of the superficial abdominal muscles as being the whole of the core. A broader, more realistic definition of the core would include discussion of up to 40 different muscles. Your abdominals certainly play a role in core stability, but the deeper muscles provide a stability that is essential.

The core muscles are the structures of the body that tie everything together in movement.

They help you sit up straight without pain. They help mitigate lower back pain. They help you find better balance in your body.

The muscles that stabilize your core include:

  • abdominal muscles: rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, and the transverse abdominus
  • the muscles that help to stabilize your shoulder blades
  • pelvic floor muscles
  • psoas
  • the muscles that support your spine
  • the diaphragm
  • your back muscles

Functions of the core include:

  • stabilizing the legs and hips
  • supporting the lower spine from the front of the body
  • surrounding and shaping the abdomen
  • stabilizing the chest with breath
  • balancing and stabilizing your neck and head

When your core muscles aren’t working properly the function of the core (stabilizing) is transferred to other parts of the body. This can create less elegance and grace in movement and function, and more strain to the joints that can, over time, lead to injury and degeneration.

It is also worth mentioning that the word “core” can elicit mixed feelings for many people.

It’s an area that many of us want to ignore or pretend it doesn’t exist because we think it’s too big, too weak, or flawed in some way. It’s also one of the most vulnerable spots of the body, housing the abdominal organs. It is our hope that by having an added understanding of what this area of our bodies is comprised of, and how it functions for us, we can have a better relationship with it.

astoria oregon cow pose gentle

astoria yoga cat pose gentle

Throughout December we’ll be focusing on these deeper muscles intending to create strength and warmth from within.

We’ll work with poses that are as simple as cat/cow to as complex as handstand and arm balances. Bringing awareness to these often sleepy areas of the body you’ll leave December feeling more stable, graceful, warm and supported from the inside out.

Written by Amanda Barp

Amanda Barp is co-founder of Watershed Wellness, a licensed massage therapist with 10+ years experience, a registered yoga teacher with a passion for learning and teaching about the human body & how to feel at home in it.