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What is core and why it’s important?

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

In short, the core is a group of the torso muscles, responsible for maintaining the correct body posture and stabilizing the spine.


Imagine a shape of a circular cylinder placed in the middle of your body. The upper part is the breathing diaphragm, the lower part consists of pelvic floor muscles and the sides surface is made from a group of abdominal muscles.

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Joseph Pilates, the creator of the Pilates exercise method, called the core the powerhouse of the body. When you think about how your body is built, the abdominal area is the part that has almost no support from your skeleton. Thus, abdominal muscles are responsible for maintaining the correct body posture and stabilizing the spine. It is important to take care of their strength.


If there is weakness or dysfunction in one of the muscles, it affects the entire core structure and thus the whole body. Adding to your training exercises that strengthen but also properly relax each muscle in the core structure is a good idea.


I like to think of the core as the source of my inner strength, which I come into contact with through the conscious exercise of these muscles.


The main muscles in our cylinder are:

  • Diaphragm - one of the largest muscles in your body that enables us to breathe

  • Pelvic Floor Muscles - a very important group of muscles that lies in the lower part of the pelvis; they support our internal organs (uterus, bladder, rectum) and assist in their proper functioning

  • Multifidus - a muscle that runs along the spine, the strongest muscle in the region of the lower back

  • Transverse Abdominal - extends from the spine to the linea alba, supports the maintenance of the correct body posture


Other muscles that are good to train to improve the functioning of the core:


Hip muscles

  • Piriformis

  • Coccygeus

  • Superior and interior twin muscles

  • Obturator internus

  • Obturator externus

Gluteus maximus


Soon, I will release content that will allow you to understand more deeply how each muscle works and what kind of exercises will be safe and effective. Follow the website, fanpage, and Instagram of Kali Temple to be updated!


For now, I am offering you a meditation that may help you to contact with your core, and understand a bit (available in polish and english).




Today I also want to share with you two exercises that come from the tradition of yoga and, when properly done, work great on the core muscles.


Both of the should be performed at least 2-3 hours after a meal.


MULA BANDHA


Mula = root

bandha = lock/block/restarin


It is a subtle practice that engages mainly pelvic floor muscles and transverse abdominal. From my experience, it is not easy to learn, it takes time but it is very rewarding. The work of these muscles is not visible from the outside, so the exercise requires patience and focus.


Profits of practice:

  • increases stability during asanas that require holding the balance

  • lengthens the spine

  • active work of the transverse muscle protects the lumbar section of your spine during training

How to practice mula bandha?


The best way is to find a teacher who can guide you. Mula bandha is a good practice but performing wrong can bring discomfort or harm. So please, treat my instruction more like an inspiration to try but if you see it does not help you, creates discomfort or tension, stop the practice.


Mulabandha should not be practiced during abdominal problems, high blood pressure, or hemorrhoids. Also with ulcers, hiatal hernia, and inguinal hernia, this exercise is not recommended.


It is not forbidden to practice while pregnancy, menstruation, illness, or after childbirth. Nevertheless, I would recommend caution and preferably consult your doctor before you decide on this exercise.


Part 1

  • Sit in vajrasana or if you prefer, sit on a chair but then make sure your feet lay flat on the ground. If it's too high, put something underneath to keep your feet supported. Make sure your spine is straight.


  • Take a few deep breaths, and direct the air to the area of your lower rips and your belly. Try to relax.

  • Find your ischial tuberosities (sit bones).


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  • Now it's very important that you relax your crotch and stomach with every inhale and as you exhale, imagine that you want to bring the ischial tuberosities closer to each other.


INHALE -> relax your crotch and pelvis, and let your belly and lower ribs grow


EXHALE -> bring ischial tuberosities closer to each other; this movement should not be visible from the outside; do not tighten your buttocks and do not move your pelvis; you should feel the active work deep inside, in the area above the perineum

  • Repeat it 10 times.


Part 2


  • Now locate the pubic symphysis and coccyx (tailbone). Look at the picture above if you need.

  • Take a few deep, relaxing breaths.

  • Imagine that you want to bring pubic symphysis and coccyx closer to each other.

INHALE -> relax your crotch and pelvis, and let your belly and lower ribs grow


EXHALE -> bring pubic symphysis and coccyx closer to each other.


This movement should not be visible from the outside; do not tighten your buttocks and do not move your pelvis; you should feel the active work deep inside, in the area above the perineum

  • Repeat 10 times


Part 3


Now we are going to connect all this together.


  • Take a few deep, relaxing breaths. Focus on the 4 points: 2 ischial tuberosities, pubic symphysis, and coccyx

INHALE -> relax your crotch and pelvis, and let your belly and lower ribs grow


EXHALE -> Bring all four points closer together, it should be felt like sucking your crotch upwards


This movement should not be visible from the outside; do not tighten your buttocks and do not move your pelvis; you should feel the active work deep inside, in the area above the perineum.

  • Repeat 10 times


It may seem very complicated at first. Don't be discouraged, try working your pelvic floor muscles regularly with mula bandha. Over time, your mind will become sensitive to sensations in that area. Be patient and give yourself time.



AKUNCHANA PRASARANA


Akunchana Prasarana means contraction and expansion. It is a practice involving squeezing and realizing the abdomen in the area of the solar plexus region. A solar plexus is a place in the body where a number of nerve endings meet.


During the practice of Akunchana Prasarana our body's oxygen level increases and carbon dioxide decreases which makes us feel full of energy.


If you have high blood pressure, ulcers, hiatal hernia, and inguinal hernia this exercise is not recommended.

  • Imagine a letter X on the area of your abdomen that comes from the iliac spines to the lower ribs.


  • Put your feet a little bit wider than your hips, knees bent. Torso bent forward. Let your hands rest on your thighs, don’t bend the elbows.



  • Start to observe your abdomen moving as you breathe. Notice the belly gently expanding when you inhale and moving back towards the spine when you exhale.


  • Next start imagining that as you exhale you trying to bring the vertices of the X closer together. You should be able to feel as the muscles of the abdomen activate with exhale. Inhale is passive so the belly should easily relax.

  • Allow yourself for a slight move in the pelvis and lower back as you breathe.

INHALE -> the belly gently expands; pelvis moves slightly backward


EXHALE -> belly slightly contracting and moving back towards the spine as the X vertices move closer; tuck the pelvis and gently round the lower back (it's not about pulling in the stomach, but about the subtle work of muscles contraction)



  • Observe sensations. You might feel that the exhale start to last longer. It’s fine. But if you feel that the practice makes you feel uncomfortable or tense, stop it, take a few deep breaths and try to relax.

  • Take 10-15 breaths, then relax.


If something is not clear or you have questions, you can write to me:

contact@kali-temple.com



sources:


H. David Coulter Anatomy of Hatha Yoga: A Manual for Students, Teachers and Practitioners

Ola Uruszczak, Agnieszka Wielobób, Maciej Wielobób Joga w ciąży i połogu






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