Having heard lots of you pining after better core strength in classes lately, I’m planning a couple of weeks of truly core-focussed classes, so here is a little story of my own core-strength journey of discovery, and what to expect from my sequences….
Back in the days of bottomless packets of ginger biscuits, booze binges and weekends spent horizontal on the sofa in my dressing gown, I believed that all of my image orientated health and fitness aspirations could be realised with the guidance of an overly faked-tanned Personal Trainer at a leading chain of high street gyms.
He assessed my general range of movement and cardio vascular capacity and also cross examined the state of my lifestyle (I’m sure there was a large degree of lying on my part in this section). One part which I could not fake, was my physical state. At the end of my cross examining, he broke the news to me I had NO CORE. Nothing. As in, not even an 8th of an ab. If the wind blew I would probably turn inside out and just shrivel to dust. That was me.
His solution to this fatal lack of bodily substance was that I should stop eating carbs – ALL carbs. Immediately. He told me that I should mainly eat chicken and vegetables and that I should spend 30 minutes doing cardio, and about 25 minutes doing resistance training at the gym, at least three times a week.
The gym was a cold and lonely place, and from what my now almost completely vegan mind can recall, chicken is basically tasteless chew. So despite his best intentions, he was not the answer to any of my image obsessed wishes.
Not his fault though of course. He wasn’t to know that it was my mind and soul that needed detoxing more than my carb-loaded stomach; that I needed to get in touch with how my body actually felt before I could understand what would help make it FEEL energised and awesome (and eventually, as a handy side-effect, look a little perkier too). It was something a little beyond my abs which needed strengthening up, something which required a little more confidence, some pride and tonnes of self-love… and none of these things were going to be found at the back of a dark, over air-conditioned gym three days a week.
Turns out I did have a core, a rock solid core, which I now appreciate and nurture daily, and try to build muscles around to make me stronger.
[the girl that had no core]
So this is what I think of now when I talk about strengthening up the core. Of course, I also mean your deep abdominal muscles, which when developed will help you to avoid injury, discomfort (particularly in the lower back) and support you through all kinds of dynamic movement with balance and freedom. But strength beyond the gym, or the yoga mat, or a few hundred sit-ups, is surely far more covetable.
“If our core is weak, the ups and downs of life are much harder to take. A strong core makes us more resilient.” – Anusara teacher Desirée Rumbaugh
So throughout core focussed classes, I’ll be encouraging everyone to ‘suck belly in’ – not to look good for instagram – but to feel a connection to your inner strength and stability. We’ll then move mindfully through postures with inner strength engaged, practicing with confidence and a focussed intention – rather than ambling through the class (and therefore our lives) without direction or purpose. And, of course, we’ll always retain a strong, controlled breath, because as long as we keep breathing, we can handle whatever is thrown at us – even high boat… low boat… back up to high boat… maybe some dancey to-the-side-boat… capsized boat… abandon the boat and just float on your back for a bit boat…! you get the idea.
So yes there will be lots of abs exercises in my core focussed classes. But I hope they kindle the sparks of some rock solid stability somewhere a tiny bit deeper below the skin.
See you on the mat 🙂
(I dare you!)