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Summer of Core Day 27: Finale Flow

Well, we made it! The last day of Summer of Core.

I have to say it’s a little bittersweet for me This has been so much fun, both to concoct all this and to share it with all of you. I have loved practicing in class with you, and hearing about your experiences outside of class.

Today’s “finale” is like a Summer of Core greatest hits put together in a flow. See the video below (it’s about 10 minutes long).

Let’s Do It

Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Straight-Arm Plank (Day 1, 3 breaths)
  2. Side Plank with arm tuck (Day 9, 3-4 reps on each side)
  3. Forearm Plank (Day 19, 3 breaths)
  4. Dolphin Push-Ups (Day 21, 3 reps)
  5. Spinal Balance Knee to Nose Crunch (Day 15, 3-4 reps each side)
  6. Side Plank T-Flows (Day 16, 3-4 reps each side)
  7. Boat (Day 3, 3 breaths)
  8. Boat with Obliques (Day 5, 3 reps on each side)
  9. Low Boat (Day 4, hold for three breaths)
  10. Hip Lifts (Day 23, 3 reps)
  11. Writing Your Name in Cursive (Day 12)
  12. Sphinx Roll Up (Day 20, 3 reps)
  13. Cobra/Upward Facing Dog
  14. Child’s Pose

It’s Been Fun!

Thank you for being a part of Summer of Core. I hope that it helped give you more core strength and greater awareness of how a strong core supports a strong and healthy yoga practice and everyday movement.

I hope you can continue to work on building and maintaining core strength on your own using all the exercises of Summer of Core.

~ Shoshana

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Summer of Core Day 22: Forearm Plank Burn

Don’t be scared by the title. Today’s move is strenuous, BUT we have been going for 22 days! We should be getting very strong.

So…staying with forearm plank, today we’re adding in some leg moves to make hanging out in plank a little more dynamic. We’ll work a little into our obliques as well.

Let’s Do It

  • Begin in your strong, straight forearm plank.
  • Inhale, lift your right leg.
  • Exhale, pull your right knee to the outside of your right arm.
  • Inhale, stretch your right leg back out.
  • Exhale, lower it to the ground.
  • Switch sides.
  • Repeat as many rounds as you can handle, trying to keep a strong, straight plank throughout.
  • Rest in child’s pose.

A Word on Shoulders

Our shoulders are made up of lots of muscles and ligaments and a ball and socket joint, which can be very unstable. Think about shoulder dislocations, or rotator-cuff tears—not uncommon!

There are a lot of ways to strain or injure your shoulders. I still suffer from an old high school volleyball injury to my right shoulder, which gets irritated when I don’t keep my shoulder strong or in good alignment.

Forearm plank is a really great way to strengthen the muscles in your shoulders. But if you start to feel like your form is falling apart, like you’re sagging, and the integrity of your alignment begins to falter, come out of the pose and rest. There’s no reason to push beyond your limits.

Always listen to your body!

~ Shoshana

Summer of Core Day 17: Spinal Balance Challenge

Today we’re going to put this week’s moves into a sequence to challenge yourself.

We move from your Plank to all fours and right into spinal balance, then knee to elbow crunch, to side plank T-Flow.

I’ll break it down.

  1. Hold Plank 3 long breaths. This is YOUR version of plank, make it strong.
  2. Come to All Fours.
  3. Inhale, Spinal Balance on one side.
  4. Exhale, knee to elbow crunch. Repeat 3 rounds.
  5. Inhale, Spinal Balance.
  6. Exhale, Kneeling Side Plank.
  7. Inhale up to a “T” (flow from yesterday). Take 3 “T” flows.
  8. Return to all fours.
  9. Plank 3 breaths.
  10. Switch sides.
  11. Keep going with another round on both sides or rest in Child’s Pose.

Here’s the full sequence in a video:

This sequence will definitely get your breath and blood flowing. Have fun with it, and challenge yourself to do more than one round!

~ Shoshana

 

Summer of Core Day 16: Side Plank T-Flows

I made this one up. Well, I’m sure I picked some of it up somewhere. But I certainly made up the name. It’s not so much side plank as it is a chance to utilize your obliques in a new way.

Here’s Katy for a second day in a row demonstrating the move.

Thanks again Katy for being a wonderful model and dedicated student!

Let’s Do It

  • Begin in kneeling side plank with your right knee down and left arm to the sky.
  • Inhale, lift from your left arm so your right arm lifts off the ground and both arms form a “T”, palms facing down, arms out to the sides, torso stacked over hips.
  • Exhale, float your left hand to your left thigh. Reach your right arm straight up.
  • Inhale, extend toward the sky, stretching from your right knee through the whole right side of your body up to your finger tips.
  • Exhale, float your right arm back to the ground with control, left arm to the sky, returning to side plank.
  • Repeat this flow five to ten times. Switch sides.

Alignment Tune-Up

  • In kneeling side plank, make sure your bottom arm is stacked beneath your shoulders, so there’s a long, straight line running from your bottom hand through your chest and shoulders and up your lifted arm.
  • Bring your bottom knee directly under your bottom hip for optimal stability.
  • Extend your top leg straight out so the foot is in line with your bottom knee. You should feel like your body is in one singular plane.
  • Engage your extended thigh and keep your top hip lifted, core engaged.

Why Flow?

We primarily practice vinyasa yoga, meaning yoga that flows with the breath. It becomes a moving meditation, which can be very effective in clearing the mind and reducing stress from our hectic, daily lives.

“The Western world has become a seated society, which is why vinyasa yoga is so important: its orientation is breath and movement, and research shows that increased movement in a seated society is absolutely essential for health. Vinyasa yoga gets us moving.” ~ Eddie Modestini, renowned yoga instructor and student of BKS Iyengar and Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

I hope that this flow and yesterday’s flow will get you moving today and you’ll find some joy and freedom in the practice.

~ Shoshana

Summer of Core Day 15: Spinal Balance Flow

We are nearly halfway through our month of core. I hope you are feeling a difference! I know I am feeling stronger and more aware of my abs during yoga and other activities.

Today we’re going to have some fun optional flows for Spinal Balance, which we worked to fine tune yesterday.

So take that well-aligned Spinal Balance and let’s get to work.

Flow Option 1: Alternate sides with breath

  • Inhale to a solid Spinal Balance on one side.
  • Exhale return to all fours.
  • Inhale, switch sides.
  • Exhale return to all fours.
  • Repeat for three to five rounds.
  • Rest in Child’s Pose.

As you move through this flow, keep your breath flowing long, and stretch out your movement to match that long breath. Try to keep your hips stable and your core engaged. Extend through your heel and your fingertips to get long on your inhale.

Flow Option 2: Knee-to-Nose Crunch

  • Inhale to a solid Spinal Balance on one side.
  • Exhale and pull your knee to your elbow, meeting near your belly button, arching your back.
  • Inhale, extend to Spinal Balance.
  • Exhale, return to all fours.
  • Switch sides.
  • Repeat three to five full rounds.
  • You can make this more challenging by continuing on one side for three to five reps, then switching sides.

Flow Option 3: Sunbird

  • Inhale to a solid Spinal Balance on one side.
  • Bend your extended leg so your foot is facing the ceiling.
  • Inhale, lift your foot straight up to get into the glutes.
  • Exhale bring your knee to your elbow.
  • Inhale and extend, keeping your knee bent and foot toward the ceiling.
  • Repeat on one side three to five times. Switch sides.

Flow Option 4: Leg & Arm Reach

  • Inhale to a solid Spinal Balance on one side.
  • Exhale, reach your extended arm and leg out to opposite sides simultaneously.
  • Inhale, return to Spinal Balance.
  • Repeat on one side for three to five reps. Switch sides.
  • Try to keep your back flat and your torso immobile as you move your limbs in and out.

Rest in Child’s Pose.

Katy Mangan demonstrates each variation on the flow in this video.

Thanks Katy for the great demo! Katy is often in the morning flow and power classes, a dedicated student and a talented storyteller. She regularly collaborates with instructor Dawn Justice for a restorative yoga and storytelling class at Soul. It’s a real treat!

Have fun with today’s options. You might string them all together into one long flow, or take breaks between the series. These are great flows to do in the morning, as they are energizing and get the cardiovascular system going. Enjoy!

~ Shoshana

Summer of Core Day 9: Side Plank Flow

Welcome to Day 9!

I hope you’re hanging in there with me. Noticing any changes in your body?

Today, we’re adding a twisting flow to Side Plank by threading the top arm underneath the bottom arm.

This move severely targets the obliques, as well as your balance, your breath and your mental focus.

Thank you Nancy Frey for demonstrating all the options for today’s flow! Nancy teaches at Soul at 9 a.m. on Sundays, and she does private instruction as well.

Options

  • Start with your bottom knee on the ground, directly under your hip. Swing your foot off the mat, pivoting on your knee.
  • Stagger your feet for a little more stability. Keep your legs strong, thighs engaged.
  • Stack your feet so your top foot rests on the bottom foot and you are balancing on the edge of the bottom foot.
  • Extend your top leg. This can be done in any of the lower leg positions. It adds strengthening to the top hip and thigh, as well as an increased challenge for your balance.

Breathe

Let your breath control this flow. Move slowly, working with a complete inhale and a complete exhale to complete one round. The slower you go, the more you’ll be able to feel the crunch of the tuck when you bring your top arm under your bottom arm, and you can use a powerful end to your exhale to get into your diaphragm and intercostals deeper into your frame.

Take five full rounds, using your breath, on each side. Rest in child’s pose.

~ Shoshana

Summer of Core Day 4

Welcome to another day of our core challenge!

I heard from a few of you that you did not receive the email for Day 3. You can find the day’s exercise here.

Moving on, we’re building on yesterday’s boat pose by puting it into motion.

Flowing Boat

Another of my favorites to add into a class sequence, I love flowing boat because it really helps link breath with movement. When we’re doing core work, because it’s so hard, it’s easy to hold our breath. Here we are intentionally using our breath to aid our movement.

Thanks to Mary Lundstrom for demonstrating the flowing boat, high to low. Mary teaches at Soul at 5:15 on Thursdays, as well as at other locations throughout the week.

Here’s the breakdown

  • Begin in Boat pose, chest lifted, back flat.
  • Feet can be lifted or on the ground.
  • Inhale and lift your chest.
  • Exhale, drop back, extending your legs out in front of you to a low boat.
  • Inhale, return to the high position.
  • Repeat at least 5 rounds with full attention to your flat back.

Options

  • Feet can be lifted or on the ground.
  • Come back into low boat only as far as feels safe and comfortable. If you have to struggle to return to high boat, don’t go as far down the next time.

Benefits

  • Builds heat in the body.
  • Strengthens the deep, transverse abdominus, hip flexors, psoas, quadriceps, lower back, upper back and shoulder muscles.
  • Builds stamina.

Have fun with this one!

~ Shoshana