Your core is your powerhouse. Guys, it’s worth building your core muscles, because all of the yoga poses require core engagement to keep you steady and safe with good alignment. Working on core is fun and challenging. The key to core-work is to keep your core working without letting yourself to misalign. While it is tempting to challenge yourself to achieve 100 crunches, yoga isn’t a competition. If your back or hip-flexors are hurting, it’s not worth it. Be honest with yourself, fire-up your core and have fun!
Core flow for men:
Table-Top, Knee to Chest
From hands and knees, inhale extend one leg back lifting from the inner thigh. As you exhale, draw your knee towards your chest and forehead to your knee.
Plank, Knee to Tricep
Make sure your wrists are under your shoulders and your back is lengthening. Do not let your hips drop, so you are a plank shape the whole time. Inhale, lift one leg off the floor and exhale pull your knee to the corresponding tricep.
Interlace your fingers like a headstand so you are on the edges of your forearms with your elbows under your inner shoulder. Look towards your feet and keep your hips lifted enough to maintain a flat plank shape in your back. Keep this alignment as you lift one leg, then the other.
This pose is important to counter the core work and give your hip-flexors a break. Lengthen your spine as you backbend.
From chair pose, bring your palms to touch and sit deeply as you twist to one side and then the other. Do not let your elbow touch your thigh. Hollow your belly, drive your tailbone towards the floor and keep your hips and knees even while you twist. Look over the shoulder you are twisting towards.
Sit tall, lengthen your low back and lift your chest. Bring your feet and knees to touch and bend your knees. Just like chair, keep your knees even as you exhale, twist. If you feel in your low back or hip flexors, lower your feet to the floor and come out of the pose.
From navasana, interlace your fingers behind your head and slowly straighten your legs, point your feet and canoe your back down so your shoulders and legs hover off the floor. With an inhale, bring yourself back up to navasana with the knees bent, and your low back lengthening.
Another crucial counter pose to all of the core exercises. Place your feet hips-width apart and your feet point straight forward. Place your hands behind you on the floor as wide as your shoulders. Angle your fingers towards the upper-corners of your mat. Lift your chest, then lift your hips high. Anchor your heels down, lengthen your knees forward and lift the hips powerfully.
Reverse Warrior to Side Angle, Core Flow
In reverse warrior, take your back hand across the front of your body as if you were pushing the front wall away from you. Maintain length in your back and make sure your front knee bends fully and widens towards the outer edge of the mat. Come into side angle pose and create length in your spine. Maintaining the length in your back, reach your bottom hand across the front of your body towards your back foot.
From plank, rotate onto your hand and side of foot. Engage your feet, lift your hips and lengthen down through the feet and up through the crown of your head.
Extend both arms by your ears, interlace the fingers and work your arms and legs straight. Rotate your bottom ribs towards the ceiling and look up. Only extend both arms if you could keep the hips square towards the side edge of your mat and avoid any collapse in the back or shoulders.
Mindful Yoga Crunches
Lie on your back with your toes and knees pointing straight up. Interlace your fingers behind your head, and as you exhale lift your shoulders and head off the floor and look at your toes. Make sure your feet and knees stay pointing straight up and you only lift as much as you need to feel engagement in your core. Pause at the top of every exhale to feel the burn in your belly.
Yoga Bicycle Core
Lie on your back and interlace your finger behind your head. Lift your knees up, until they are right over your hips. Lift your shoulders off the mat. Extend one leg straight to hover off the floor. Extend the corresponding arm across the bent knee, as if you were shaking someones hand. As you exhale, twist the elbow that in still on your head, across the body towards the straight leg side.
Another important counter pose to release the hip-flexors and back. Place your feet hips width apart under your knees. Press your feet down to lift your hips and low-back up. Clasp your hands underneath you and walk your shoulders up, and underneath you. From your hips, lengthen down through your knees and root your feet down. From your hips, lengthen your back and open your chest. Keep your chin vertical.
Bend your knees towards the chest and hold your shins just below the knee caps. Press your shins up against your hands and press the back of your head down like bridge. You should feel a little curve in your low-back as you rock back and forth.