Fire up the core
8 Power Yoga postures to fire up the core. By Laura Dodd | The Yoga Class
In June we witness the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and with it the start of summer, lighter evenings and a fire igniting inside to get up, get out and enjoy. The summer season is also flavoured by the element of fire, which influences passion, motivation, strength and transformation. Within our yoga practice we can honour this season with energising practices that stoke our inner fire, our Agni. Holding poses for longer, taking more Vinyasas, focusing more on poses that strengthen the core and developing breath-work practices such as ujjayi pranayama will help incorporate the fire element into our practices. The following eight Power Yoga poses will help you fire up through the core and feel your inner fire. Always listen carefully to your body, to do what is right for you.
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1. Floating Bharmanasana - Floating Tabletop Pose
From a kneeling position bring the hands to the mat, wrists under the shoulders, knees under the hips and with the toes tucked. Push firmly into all parts of the hands with the fingers evenly spread, as you protract the shoulder blades, hug in through the lower ribs and draw the belly button towards the spine. As you feel the core engage, lift the knees an inch or so off the mat. Hold for 5 deep Ujjayi breaths or for as long as feels manageable.
2. Phalakasana to Phalakasana I - Plank Pose To Plank Pose Knee to Elbow Pose
From your floating tabletop, step the feet towards the back of the mat, keeping the shoulders directly over the wrists and the hips level with your shoulders. Push firmly into the hands, as you protract the shoulder blades and draw in through the core, keeping the glutes engaged.
3. Forearm Vasisthasana - Forearm Side Plank Pose
Bring the right forearm to the mat at around 90 degrees, with the shoulder directly over the wrist. Rotate on to the outside edge of the right foot, bringing the left foot to stack on top of the right. Push firmly into the bottom elbow, as the shoulder blade protracts, lifting the hips to create one line from shoulders to ankles. Draw the lower ribs in and the navel to spine, keeping the glutes and legs active. Lift the top arm and take your Drishti up. To modify, drop the bottom knee. Hold for 5 strong Ujjayi breaths before repeating on the other side.
4. Salabhasana - Locust Pose
Come to lie on your front with the palms facing down. Draw the shoulder blades together, engage the Glutes, draw the legs together and keep the feet engaged. Modifications are to either keep the hands by your hips or clasp the hands together behind the back. Inhale, lift the chest, the feet and the hands away from the mat, keeping the back of the neck long. Try to keep length in the lower back. Hold for 5 deep Ujjayi breaths or as long as feels manageable.
5. Virabhadrasana III - Warrior 3 Pose
Come to High Lunge pose. Root down firmly with your right foot, as you draw up through the abdominals, hug the right hip into the midline and drop the left outer hip to the mat. Push back with the left heel, while extending the arms, sternum and crown of the head forward, keeping the arms alongside the ears and the palms facing towards each other. Inhale, tip the weight forward keeping the back leg engaged and the back foot flexed, as you draw the torso parallel with the mat. Keep the abdominals engaged and drawing in towards the spine. Hold for 5 strong Ujjayi breaths or for as long as feels manageable. Repeat on the other side.
6. Utthita Parsvakonasana Variation Both Arms Raised - Extended Side Angle Variation Pose
Come to a Warrior II posture, making sure the front heel is in line with the middle arch of the back foot, the back foot is at around 90 degrees with the outer edge of the foot pushing into the mat and keeping the front knee tracking over the front ankle. Hold the lower body steady in this position as the torso leans towards the front thigh, hingeing at the hips. Inhale, reach the arms either side of the ears with the palms facing each other and the arms parallel. Keep rotating the chest towards the sky as you draw in through the obliques and abdominals. Keep a long line from the outside edge of the back foot to the top fingertips. Breathe here for 5 Ujjayi breaths, before repeating on the other side.
7. Bakasana - Crane Pose
Begin in a squat with your knees wide. Bring your hands on the mat, shoulder distance apart. Spread the fingers evenly and push into the fingertips. Lift the hips high and firmly press your knees towards the upper arms. Draw the knees further up towards the armpits for Crane pose and onto the triceps for Crow pose. Draw the chest forward until your elbows stack over the knees and you feel the centre of gravity shift. Engage through the core, as you lift one foot towards the hips, maybe you also lift the other. If both feet lift, keep the hips high as you draw the toes together and straighten through the arms. Hold for 5 strong Ujjayi breaths or for as long as feels manageable.
Come to sit on the mat with the feet together, knees bent, a long spine and lifting the crown of the head to the sky. Bring the hands behind the knees, drawing the shoulders back and lifting the lower back. Start to bring the weight back onto the sit bones to find a balance point, staying broad across the collar bones and drawing in through the core. Inhale, lift the shins and arms parallel with the mat, keeping the knees bent and the palms facing each other. For the full variation, straighten the legs. Hold for 5 Ujjayi breaths.
To enter low boat pose, exhale, drawing the torso with control towards the mat, straightening the legs and reaching the hands forward. Keeping the shoulders lifted, the lower belly drawing in and the lower back connected to the mat. Try to keep the neck relaxed as you hold for 5 Ujjayi breaths or for as long as feels manageable. Inhale, lift back to Boat pose and repeat for 3 sets.