20-Minute Yoga Flows Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 8

Controlled Core

20 min - Practice


Build strength in your abdominal muscles. Sarah guides us through a series of core-focused postures to build strength and stability.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

Hi there, welcome back. For this class, this sequence, we're going to start on hands and knees. So come on to your hands and your knees. If you have a little wiggle in you, you can get a little movement side to side, making sure you feel warmed up. We're going to get right into it.

Tuck your toes. Your finger is nice and wide so you have a nice firm grip on the mat. And then your belly's going to pull in just a tiny bit. Hover your knees so your booty will kind of feel like it's sticking out behind you. And just hover here for a moment.

You'll probably notice you don't have to do very much here before your belly and your core start to turn on. They want to help you, they want to work, so just go with it. Take deep breath and then take the knees back down, maybe a little swivel side to side. And then your knees will hover once more, pulling in. And then really identify that right foot on the floor.

Take your left foot up, extend back. Pull in, extend back. One more time, pull in, one more time, extend. And then the left knee comes down, the right knee comes down, can swivel a little bit there. I already feel a little warm from that and hopefully you do too.

Let's try the other side. Knees hover. So it helps if you really snuggle that left foot into the floor. And then the right leg kicks back. Pull in, kick back, pull in, one more time kicking back, one more time pulling in, right knee down, left knee down, wiggle a little bit and then ease yourself back into a child's pose, stretching your arms forward.

On child's pose, tuck the toes, come back into that hover, but this time take it all the way back, downward facing dog. Feel free to walk the dog a little bit. Make sure that you're comfortable. And then looking forward, walk your feet up, belly pulls in as you go. Inhale to lengthen and exhale, fold.

Soften your knees a bit and very gently, very slowly start to roll up, pulling the belly in a little bit as you do, your shoulders will draw back, chest will brighten and stand. Draw in just below your navel so you feel a tightness in the low belly and inhale, reach your arms up, look up and then exhale, fold forward over your legs. Take another inhale to look up and then plant your hands on the mat, step back into a high plank and pause. Make sure that you feel safe, you feel secure in the belly, exhaling, elbows draw in, inhale, upward facing dog and exhale, down dog. Your left foot will turn 45 degrees.

Engage in your belly, step your right foot forward between your hands, pick it up if you need to to get it there and inhale, press up, warrior one. Touch your palms together, get a nice gentle lift in the front of the body and really snuggle into the back of the left foot. Interlace your hands, turn the palms open, take a little stretch here and then you're going to in the belly, exhale, hinge forward for one, look towards your knuckles, two, three, long and lean, four and that back leg, five, inhale, back up and then exhale, warrior two, opening the hips, checking in, making sure your heel to heel or heel to arch, look out over your right middle finger and really ground into the legs. Down and exhale, hands spin to the floor, step back, high plank, pause, take your knees down for a moment, we're going to use our block, grab one if you have one handy and you want it to be at the tallest setting so that things are a little bit easier for us and then lower your chest towards the block so you just have a sense of where your breast bone is and then come back to your plank, stabilizing the belly and knitting your ribs together like you have a corset on, keep your gaze forward, exhale to chaturanga, inhale plank, one more time, exhale chaturanga, inhale plank, from here, lower down to chaturanga, push forward, move the block to the medium height, up dog, exhale, down dog, look forward, engage a little in the belly, jump up and sit down, we'll come back to the block in a moment but for now you can just set it to the side and pull your knees in, roll onto your back, give yourself a quick squeeze and then feet come together, knees go wide so you're in a bada konasana, a bound angle, there's a little space between the low back and the mat, we want to fill that space in by moving the hip bones towards the low ribs, the feet will press together so you'll feel your thighs engage and then in the belly, interlace your hands behind your head, notice how broad your elbows are here, let's try to keep them that way, take an inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth, lift up, inhale back down, exhale through your mouth, lift up, that's two, exhale three, knitting the ribs together, four, exhale through your mouth so that someone in the next room could hear you, five, inhaling down, six and exhaling to come up, this is seven, keeping the heels pressing together, eight, nine, keep the belly pulling in, exhale ten, inhale back down, pause, you can bring your knees together maybe a quick windshield wiper, we'll do one more set of ten, the more you press your heels together the more you're going to get, try and keep the low belly pulling in, take an inhale, exhale lift, inhale, exhale two, inhale, exhale three, knitting the ribs together, exhale four, inhale, exhale five, doesn't matter how high you come up, exhale six, what you're going for is control, exhale seven, exhale eight, inhale down, exhale nine, inhale down, exhale ten, hold, look down towards your belly and really suck it down and then inhale to release, hands can come back down, pull the knees in, little windshield wiper action might feel nice, and then pull the knees in, roll up, step back, remember the height of the block, exhale chaturanga, inhale up dog and exhale down dog, right foot goes 45 degrees, engage in the belly, left foot forward again pick it up if you need to and then inhale coming up back in our warrior one on the left side, finding that little baby backbend here, interlace the hands maybe do the weird one first, take an inhale, belly pulls in, exhale to hinge forward, one looking for space in the joints, two, three really strong stable legs, four and five, inhale back up and exhale warrior two, left knees moving over your left ankle, shoulders can relax a little bit even here, up into the belly, spin your hands to the floor, step back, high plank, knees can come down, grab your block again, once more high is nice, this is like New York, this is Chicago, this is LA in terms of height, let's try Chicago. If you know you don't like Chicago, stay in New York.

Come back into your plank, a little in the belly, exhale chaturanga, inhale plank, exhale chaturanga, inhale plank, exhale chaturanga, inhale plank, a little harder to change, exhale down dog, look forward, step, jump up, we're done with the block for now, you can move it to the side once more, from here lie down on your back, giving yourself maybe a little squeeze which is nice, the abdominal muscles and then your legs will come in the air, so again we have that little space between the low back and the mat which we want to maintain the natural curve of the spine but really identify and engage the abdominal muscles so I'm pressing down slightly but really I'm knitting my low ribs together and drawing my navel and my pelvic floor down and up, you can keep your hands on the mat but I prefer to kind of hug my ribs so I can really feel if my abdominal muscles are working, point your toes and if your hamstrings are really tight you can do this with bent knees, toes point so you have some action in the feet, in the belly, inhale and then exhale start to lower maybe about 45 degrees, pause, inhale back up, exhale lower, inhale back up, if your hands are on your belly you can feel how your abdominal muscles like to puff up, inhale lower, pull down, inhale up, exhale lower, inhale up, five more, exhale, inhale up, exhale four, inhale up, keep tightening in the belly, exhale three, inhale up, exhale two, point your toes maybe go a little lower, inhale up, last time, exhale lower, see if you can go almost to the floor, inhale up, pull your knees in, wobble a little bit side to side, let's try one more time, legs go up and again hands here you can kind of manually like as you exhale pull in, you can really feel that happen, inhale and exhale through your mouth, one, inhale up, you don't have to go as low, exhale two, inhale, exhale three, try to keep the shoulders on the floor, inhale, exhale four, inhale up, nice deep exhale five, inhale up, exhale six, keep the pelvic floor pulling up, inhale, exhale seven, corseting the low inhale ribs, inhale, exhale eight, inhale up, two more, exhale nine, inhale, exhale ten, hold one, two, three, four, five, inhale up, bend your knees, wobble a little bit side to side, and then roll yourself up, plant your feet behind your hips, bring your hands about six inches from your butt, lift your chest and then push your hips up, drop your head back, a nice table top, stretching the shoulders after those push ups, breathing into the belly, nice big breath, and then when you're ready, slowly coming back down, roll onto your back once more, walk your feet in a little closer to your hips, and then draw your tailbone towards the floor but start to slowly roll up your spine into an easy bridge, kind of getting up into your shoulders so you start to feel the triceps pushing down, the hips are lifting up a little bit, and then reverse that, so you drop the breast bone, drop the ribs, drop the belly, ease back down to the floor, do one more like that, it can be nice to bring your arms up as you do this so that your shoulders are a little broader, rolling up, big breath into the belly, and then slowly easing down, starting to let things unwind a little bit, windshield wipers with the knees, knock them side to side, left leg can go straight, pull your right knee in towards your armpit, give it a little squeeze, and then gently draw it over to the left side, stack your hips, and let your right arm come back out, maybe close your eyes, give yourself a moment here to really connect to a feeling of heaviness, we've spent the last 20 minutes, the last 18 or so minutes rather, working against gravity, let gravity do the work now. Bring back to the center, right knee can come back in for a squeeze, right leg comes down, left knee comes up, squeezing, and then gently draw across, I like to really stack and get organized, and then really opening, so that shoulder can stretch, same thing, be as passive as you can. Gently bring your left knee back in, give it a squeeze, and then pull the right knee in, give both legs a squeeze, big exhale to pull down, separate the feet, making sure that you're comfortable on the mat, really take up space, close your eyes. We've arrived at our last pose, soften the belly, take the next few moments to incorporate the work of the practice, I'll be here with you, and I'll let you know when it's time. Bring one hand to your belly, one hand to your chest, one hand to your belly, one hand to your chest, big breath, and then rolling to one side, push up, take an easy seat, thank you for sharing your practice, thank you for sharing your time, namaste.


Beth F
2 people like this.
It looks like I'm the first person to like this practice, so I'm going to go for two for two and be the first commenter as well - (-; Sarah these practices are so innovative and amazing.  I will come back to this core work. ThanK you! 
Jenny S
4 people like this.
Aaahhh the dreaded core LOL...this actually felt really good, 20 minutes seems about right for this gal! 😅
2 people like this.
Beth, haha yes! Thanks for sharing, and good to see you :) Happy practicing! xo, Ashley
2 people like this.
Jenny Yes! I can commit to 20 min, any more and I may need a tad more persuasion lol. Hope you have a lovely weekend. xo, Ashley
Glenford N
3 people like this.
Another beautiful practice, really felt that zipper in my core. A great way to start the day  and excellent for my posture. I enjoyed the joke about New York,  Chicago and LA. My kind of town! More please. Namaste. 
Sarah Lowe
1 person likes this.
Glenford 😆thank you for practicing! I love core for my posture too - it helps so much! Thank you for sharing 🙏🏻
Jayme B
2 people like this.
I did this practice in the evening. My tension levels were high when I began.  All that spicy core work wrung it out of me. Love it! Thank you Sarah!
Sarah Lowe
Jayme yesss great to hear this! Core work does the same for me - something to focus on and find stability! Thank you for practicing with me!
Tahira B
1 person likes this.
Sarah, thank you! You are basically my favourite yoga teacher on here and your tutorials are awedome and easy to follow. 
Kate M
Got to click on CORE a little more often!! This was a nice length : )
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