Core work. We love to hate it. We groan when someone suggests it before class, or when the instructor cheerfully announces that “it’s time for core!”
But why? What is this deep-seated distaste for core strengthening exercises that we know is good for us?
It’s because it hurts.
Core work is not very fun. It’s grueling at times, painful most of the time, and often leaves you feeling spent. But like many things we avoid, it’s what we most need.
Do you ever procrastinate on a chore like cleaning the bathroom? Do you ever avoid a difficult conversation with a co-worker or a loved one? Or maybe it’s easier to reach for that granola bar rather than fixing a balanced meal that will nourish your body. I’m certainly guilty of all those things. It’s called taking the easy way out.
Our bodies like to take the easy way out as well. In yoga, poor alignment can stem from muscle weakness in one area or another and the body wanting to use stronger muscles to support a pose. In Warrior II, for example, the front knee often wants to cave in toward the big toe rather than reach back to the pinkie toe. It takes a good deal of strength in the hips to keep the knee tracking toward good alignment.
Core work is not the easy way out. It’s hard. But without a strong core, we risk injury not just in our yoga practice and other active and athletic pursuits, but in daily life. Sometimes just bending over the wrong way can lead to a few days of debilitating back pain brought on by a weak core.
We’re not going for rock-hard abs or a washboard stomach. We are going for abdominal strength that will support our bodies so we can keep functioning and moving at the level we want. That might mean spending a few minutes every day working on core exercises. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and every bit helps.
Next time you’re in class and it’s time for core work, and your mind begins to groan and regret coming to class at all, change the conversation in your head and know that you are getting stronger, not taking the easy way out and working to ensure a happy and healthy lifestyle for your future.