good to the CORE
Want to unleash the true potential of your middle? Turns out crunches—yes, the exercise you’ve avoided for years in favor of holding Plank—are key to a stronger core and more stable yoga practice. Here’s how to do crunches so they serve you in every pose
YOGIS KNOW that a strong core is crucial. Physically, it’s what helps you stay balanced, move from one pose to the next with muscular integrity, and maintain a healthy spine. Emotionally, your core is arguably your most important body part: It’s the way you show up spiritually and ethically in the world. And given that the practice of yoga is really about connecting to your truest self, core work is key to developing an even stronger sense of self.
Despite all this, it can be tempting to rush through core work or see it as merely a necessary evil. I know it’s not everyone’s favorite portion of yoga class—I hear your grunts when I’m teaching!—but here’s another way to look at it: By working your core with intention, you’ll be better able to recruit your core muscles throughout your entire practice, helping you engage the back body during forward bends (preventing over-rounding and over-stretching of the low back) and the front body during backbends (avoiding pushing past what your body can manage).
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my years of practicing and teaching is that how we work in poses is as important as the poses themselves. Doing the yoga crunch outlined on the next page will engage your core muscles in such a way that you’re able to find that same “work” in each pose of the sequence that follows, not only helping you strengthen your core but also preparing you for your fullest—and safest—expression of each pose.