Yoga for Athletes Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 6

Deep in the Core

20 min - Practice


Lydia offers a supine sequence designed to strengthen and stabilize the core. She guides us to move intelligently with the breath. It will be helpful if you've watched the earlier episode Breath Support for Athletes.
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video

Sep 30, 2015
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(waves crashing) Hi. So let's take a look at some deeper core work and we're gonna do most of this on the back. If you didn't watch the breath session, the first bit of that breath session, will talk about how you can use the breath to support your sacrum and lower back. So you might wanna watch that. But let's get right into it, and roll down onto our back.

And I'll talk about the breath a little bit here. First of all, I just want you to feel like you have a neutral spine. So there's maybe a little bit of a curve in your lower back. Your feet are planted and we're really gonna work at keeping this neutral spine. So not arching the back and not really completely pressing it into the floor, except for a couple of exercises.

Inhale, and as you exhale, draw your lower belly about four finger-widths below your navel, back towards your spine. Inhale, release, and exhale. Draw your lower belly back towards your spine. So just get a sense of that. And then lift your legs up.

Try not to take your knees above the line where your leg meets your hip joint. So not so much like this, but out like this as if your calves are on an imaginary chair. And then inhale and exhale. Draw your lower belly back towards your spine, and as you inhale, see if you can keep a little bit of that downward pressure. So you're actually not protruding through the belly.

So there's a little bit of this feeling of the two frontal hipbones coming together and down. Although you don't have to obliterate your back's curve. So just do that for a few breaths and maybe involve a couple of movements here. So inhale, exhale, and straighten out your right leg. Reach out through the heel.

Inhale into the center. Exhale, straighten out your left leg. Lower belly back towards the spine. Inhale into the center. Another time you could also think about lifting the pelvic floor a little bit as well as drawing the lower belly back, keeping that neutral spine.

So you're activating a little bit pelvic floor and transverse abdominals; deeper muscles of the belly. So one more time. So chest is pretty relaxed. Shoulders are as relaxed as possible. You're not protruding up through the belly or the chest.

Might be harder than it looks (laughs). Letting your legs come down. Just taking a breath, relaxing your belly. And now we're gonna take that feeling of neutral spine and move the core into the legs. So press into your feet.

Come to a position where you're kind of a straight line between your shoulders and your knees, and you can take your upper arms down like you have sort of robot arms (laughs) and press down through your arms for this. So shift weight into your left foot and without shifting your pelvis, bring your right knee in. Exhale. Lower belly back to the spine, and then inhale, release. Shift weight into your right foot without shifting your pelvis at all if it's possible.

Exhale. Lower belly back to the spine. And just do that a couple of times. And it's actually more difficult if you take the arms just like you're crossing your arms on your chest. It's more difficult cause you don't have that stabilization from your upper arms. You're really pouring it into your legs.

Really lean into the opposite foot. And there's something called the functional line of fascia and I think you're doing a little bit of work to stabilize it here. It runs across the front of the body. And then exhale and roll down. Interlock the hands behind the back of your skull.

Take your feet a little bit wide. Let your knees fall in towards each other and just working the shoulder blades off of the mat here. So inhale, and as you exhale, see if you can draw the lower belly down. Maybe lift the pelvic floor a little bit up, and lift the shoulder blades off of the floor and shoot the elbows up. So, inhale, roll down your spine.

It's almost like a nice spinal massage. Exhale, come up. Inhale, come down. So, a couple more times. And what you don't wanna see when you come up if you're taking a look at your belly, is popping up through, like a tenting action, through the middle of the belly.

So really get this feeling of dropping down. Let's come down, open the elbows. Let the legs come up into the air if this is okay on your shoulders. And we're just gonna work the legs straight up into the air, and try not to bring them so much towards you. So as we exhale, you can bring the legs straight up into the air, pause there, and draw the lower belly back to the spine.

And then inhale and come down. It's actually nice to look at your belly cause you can see what's happening. So, come up a little bit, exhale. Lift straight up, and draw the lower belly back to the spine. Inhale, come down, and relax.

Exhale. Inhale. So, a couple more. Exhale. Inhale.

So the pelvis can actually lift right up off the floor. Inhale. Let's involve the arms now. So the same action you did with the arms lifting the shoulder blades off of the floor, both at the same time. Your lower back will be pressing into the floor here so it's not as much of a neutral spine because you're in a flexion position.

So come on up, and then hollow belly back to the spine. Pause and inhale, come down. Neutral spine. Exhale and inhale. Pause at the top, draw lower belly back to the spine, and inhale.

Let's involve another movement. So as you exhale, come up. Draw lower belly back to the spine. Lower one leg. On pausing, inhale it up.

Lift up a little bit. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Draw lower belly down, lower leg. Keep exhaling. Inhale it up, little lift.

Exhale. Inhale. Neutral spine. Exhale, lift. Lower leg a little bit or a lot. Draw lower belly down, pause the breath. Inhale, come up.

Little lift, exhale. Relax. One more. Inhale fully, exhale. Lower leg. Try not to move your hips. Pause the breath. Come on up.

Inhale, little lift, and release. It might feel good here to actually take the soles of your feet together. Let your knees go wide and breathe into your belly. Next movement. Let's take our arms out to the sides in a T-position.

Bring the knees up and let the legs come a little bit more straight. So, by pressing your legs together, you'll actually get a little feeling of activation in your pelvic floor without thinking about it, which might be nice. And let's allow the legs to go halfway over to the side. Press the hips away from your shoulders and pause. A breath there of pause.

Inhale into the center. Let them go halfway over to the other side. Press the legs together as if you're sort of squeezing them together, but not too hard. Pause. Inhale into the center, and now you might go a little bit further down.

Press into your hands. Press the hips away from you and pause. Lower belly back to the spine. Press the legs together to come up over to the other side. (laughs) And maybe go one more time.

Exhale. Pause for a breath. Space in between the shoulder blades down if you can. Inhale and exhale over to the other side. Inhale, come up, and hug the knees in towards you.

Do a little rocking and rolling on the spine and come up to either hold underneath your hamstrings or on top of your shins. Curl in. Relax your belly here and then inhale. Come up to a navasana leg or a boat leg position. First, have the shins parallel to the floor.

Stretch out one leg. Stretch out the other leg to meet it. If that doesn't make your hip flexors too tight, stay there. Otherwise, come back to this. Inhale, exhale, belly back to the spine, pelvic floor a little bit drawing up.

Inhale, look up. Exhale, start to lower down. So find the back of your pelvis. Maybe find your lower back. Maybe take your arms over your head and come all the way back up.

Hug in. Curl in. (inhales and exhales) And then up again. Find the breath. You're strongest at the bottom of the exhale, so use that. Relax your shoulders.

There's actually five, I think it's five, fused vertebrae in your sacrum so you can feel all those little ridges. And then come down, belly down all the way up. One more. (inhales and exhales) This is like a Prana Bandha movement, which is like hugging everything into the bones. Roll down to find the different shape of your sacrum, which is interesting.

Belly down. Curl in. Take your heels out in front and have a little bend in your knees. Try to keep the heels really well grounded. Find the primary curve of your spine, which is a little bit rounded.

Inhale, exhale, hollow out. Ice cream scoop out the belly back to the spine. You're quite curled here; It's a flexion movement. And roll down one vertebra at a time. Maybe your heels slide in towards you a little bit.

Then, once you get to your chest, you'll come into a neutral spine in your upper back. So your lower back's off the floor. And then find a little curl here and come up. So this time take your arms and upper torso over to the side and come down on this side movement. So first, elongate your spine, and then exhale, and come down.

And then sort of straighten out, and come up through your straight line. Curl a little bit first. Inhale. Remember, you're strongest on your exhale. Elongate. Go over to the other side. Elongate (inhales).

Exhale (exhales). It's like you're hollowing out these... It's like a vacuum in the back of your belly, back of your back, and it's pulling the belly and the organ tissue into the back. And then release it, and come back up. Heels down as much as you can.

If that's hard for you, you can just stick your feet under a couch or something for some support and still get that same movement. Last one. Inhale (inhales). Exhale (exhales). And bring your feet and your hands up. (breaths deeply) Take a few breaths.

Neutralize your spine here, so it's okay. If it's possible with the whole sacrum on the ground, the lower back doesn't have to be so heavy on the ground. Mine's actually quite light. Feet and arms up. Soft legs and arms and then as we inhale, we're just gonna move a little bit away like this and breathe.

Exhale. Bring the abdominal muscles together and down. Pelvic floor kind of up on the exhale. So, inhale. You sort of keep it but you exhale and reinforce the weaving together of all of that.

So, inhale, and sort of keep the residue of it. Exhale, reinforce. Inhale here. Exhale to get a little bit further. So you don't totally relax on the inhale, you're sort of keeping the strength of the weave.

And then a little bit further. Lower back as close to the floor as possible. Feet squeezing together. Inner knees squeezing together all the way up. Let's do it again.

Relax, inhale, exhale. So on the inhale, you don't really lose it. The weave is still there. On the exhale you reinforce everything. Open a little bit more.

Inhale, expand. But keep it and exhale reinforce everything. Lower back closer to the floor here, ribs down. Upper chest, shoulders, relaxed. (exhales) Come all the way up.

Can you do one more? I think so. You can do it. One more (exhales). Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.

Together and down with the abdominals. Pelvic floor up, squeeze the legs together. Lower back closer to the floor here to keep away from the excessive arch. Come on up. Inhale, exhale.

Draw the knees in. Wobble a little bit. That was good. That felt good. So place your feet. Spread your toes.

And to counterpose from this let's press into the feet and let the tailbone move towards the backs of the knees, and use your hamstring and your outer glutes to shoot your legs that way and then take your arms over your head and don't really come into too much of a back-bend, but just feel like you're getting a stretch from your ribs to your hips. Like your whole lumbar spine, we did a lot of flexion, is getting longer. Press into your toes and let your chest move towards your chin a little bit. Press into your heels. Let your hips move up using the outer glutes but relax around your sacrum.

So try not to squeeze. Don't be a tight-ass. Don't squeeze your bum together. Just squeeze it into the mid-line, but don't squeeze those butt-cheeks together like you're trying to hold something in between them. Squeeze the hipbones together and then move the buttocks muscles down.

See if you can get a sense of that. And then, unwind. And you might wanna take a relaxation here. So if you do, I'm not gonna do it in this video, then take one. Relax everything for a few minutes.

That's never a bad thing. You might also wanna tag this practice on to one of the other ones, so you could do this and then go right into another practice and then you would have a relaxation at the end. Hope you're feeling quite alive in your core. Thank you for practicing.


Woo-ee! My core was talking to me during that whole practice! Thanks for waking up its stagnant energy :)
Awesome practice! I truly enjoyed it, Thank you Lydia :)
Ashley, so glad you enjoyed it.
There will be a couple more practices coming out next week for a new season of Yoga For Athletes. Please let me know what you think of them. :)
I can't wait. This was the first practice I've done with you and certainly wont be the last. Your precise cueing and creative approach is impressive and helped me push my limits a little more than usual. (by the way I really dig your hair)
Hi Ashley. You are too sweet. haha Thank you. So happy we're practicing together.
1 person likes this.
Namasté and thank you for this sequence. I love your sweet voice, and the small alignments you are teaching in the pose. Silke
Hi Silke. Thanks for saying and for practicing with me. Happy and Safe Holiday season to you and your family. Lydia
This really tapped into my core, I felt muscles I wasn't aware of. I appreciate your gentle coaching and taking time on the positioning. Thank you Lydia.
1 person likes this.
I love doing this, but my lower back is really stressed when both arms and legs are used. How can take the pressure off my low back, and still benefit in the core? Thank you Lydia.
Hi Joan Great question.
Try these things and let me know how it feels.
Find your two frontal hip bone points. When doing the work, try squeezing these together and drawing them down into your abdomen slightly. You don't have to obliterate your lower back curve however.
Keep more points of contact with the ground. Try not using your arms or not using your legs in the exercise. Alternate.
Make the movements smaller and bend your elbows and your knees more. This might help make your limbs feel lighter and easier to manage.
LOVE. Lydia Zamorano
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