Poses and stretches in yoga, pilates and yogalates strengthen core muscles

The Role of Core Muscles

The core is essentially made up of three groups of muscles — the abs, the side muscles (obliques) and a deep layer of muscles which help to support your spine. Developing core strength helps you with your balance, prevents back pain and also helps you to perform better in sports and other activities.

Related: Exercises to Strengthen Your Core Muscles

Pilates, Yoga and Yogalates – Are They All Core Strengthening Exercises?

Many postures in yoga strengthen core muscles.
  1. What Is Pilates?
    Pilates consists of a group of exercises that focuses on working out your body’s core muscles. Pilates exercises train several muscle groups at once in smooth continuous movements, are low-impact, and yet challenging enough to engage even fitness individuals.
  1. What Is Yoga?
    Strictly speaking, yoga encompasses more than just physical exercise. It also involves meditation, breath control as well as postures to promote relaxation.

    Many of the postures that are practised in yoga strengthen core muscles. These include Warrior Pose, Tree Pose and Crescent Pose among others[1].
  1. What Is Yogalates?
    A blend of yoga and Pilates, Yogalates combines the strength training of Pilates with the flexibility training of yoga.

There are many ways to embark on a Pilates, yoga or Yogalates — from following instructional videos online at home to joining a class at either your community centre or a private fitness studio.

Related: Fitness and Exercise Workouts In and Around Singapore

Core Muscle Exercises You Can Do at Home

Even with an increasing number of affordable classes available today, there are times when you simply prefer to do your core workout in the comfort of your own home. All you need is an exercise mat to get started.

1. Seated Knee Tucks

Seated knee tucks is one of the core exercises you can include in your core workout

While seated on your mat, extend your legs fully straight out in front and lean backwards  keeping spine neutral (tip: do not round your back). Next, with your legs extended, start to bend your legs, bringing your knees towards your chest. With your knees bent, hold the position for a second or two, then extend your legs outwards and return to the starting position without touching the mat. Repeat.

Related: Time to Exercise: Ankle Pumps

2. Circle Plank

Circle plank is a core muscle exercise for core training

This is an advanced variation of the plank. Starting with your arms straight in plank position, bring in your right knee and draw a circle with it clockwise, then anti-clockwise. Continue alternating five times then switch legs.

Related: Time to Exercise: Side-Lying Clams

3. Sliding Pike

Doing core exercises at home like the sliding pike improves core strength

You will need a towel to do this exercise. Starting with your body in a plank position and your feet on a folded towel (to help you slide easier), start to draw your legs in, raising your hips towards the sky. Hold for a second then repeat.

Related: Time to Exercise: Pelvic Tilt

4. Crunches

Ab exercises like crunches develop core strength

Crunches is an easier alternative to other ab exercises To do a proper crunch exercise, start with your back on the ground and then lift your legs with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, cupping your hands behind your ears, gently squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your elbows back without arching your back. As you exhale, contract your core muscles and tuck your chin towards your chest, slowly curling your torso towards your thigh Lower yourself downward in a controlled manner, slowly uncurl your torso back towards the mat keeping feet, tailbone and lower back grounded. 

Do Core Training Regularly!

If you do these core exercises regularly, you will soon find that ordinary tasks such as mopping the floor, walking, or even standing for extended periods of time become easier. Also, if you're  are already exercising regularly, look to incorporate core-strengthening exercises, which helps to improve your posture and reduce risk of injuries.

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References

  1. Rathore, M., Trivedi, S., Abraham, J., & Sinha, M. B. (2017). Anatomical correlation of core muscle activation in different yogic postures. International Journal of Yoga, 10(2), 59–66. Retrieved June 2021 from https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-6131.205515