21 Day Challenge Sequence #2: Fire Up Your Core!

Today I did the long core-focused practice that Jill Miller teaches on her “COREgeous” DVD and I feel fantastic (I highly recommend checking out Jill’s website www.yogatuneup.com, she has a ton of great short and FREE videos on there to get you jump started, as well as longer ones you can pay for and awesome DVDs, including one all about how to do self massage using Yoga Tune Up balls or tennis balls that is phenomenal). In that spirit, I thought I would share my own core-centric routine with you. If nothing else, it’s this is a great way to get warm!!!


1. Sun Salutation:

            a.) Tadasana w/ arm sweeps (inhale arms up, exhale arms down)

            b.) Uttanasana (standing forward bend)

c.) Cat Plank (Phalakasana variation) round your back like cat pose and hold, then extend your spine into ‘regular’ plank and lower to the ground KEEPING your core engaged and bottom edge of ribs lifting away from the floor/shoulders back

d.) Bhujangasana (cobra pose)

e.) Adho Mukha Svansana (Down dog)

f.) Virahabdrasana I (warrior 1) + switch sides

            g.) Uttanasana (standing forward bend)

h.) Tadasana

             i.) Uttanasana (standing forward bend)

j.) Cat Plank (Phalakasana variation) + lower down 

2. Elbow Plank Ups: lying on your belly prop up on your elbows (elbows under shoulders) and clasp your hands, as you exhale look down at the floor and sequentially lift the bottom of your rib cage, navel, pubic bone, and fronts of your thighs off the floor (you can lift your knees up too or leave them down), hold and then lower slowly (in reverse order) back down to Sphinx pose (looking forward in a small backbend) 

3. Adho Mukha Svansana (Down Dog variation) – pull knee in toward your nose and hold, inhale lift leg up and back and step to lunge 

4. Virahabdrasana II (warrior 2) to Trikonasana (trinagle)

5. Repeat 3. And 4. on second side

 6. Elbow Side Plank Ups: lying on your side with legs in line with the rest of your body prop up on one elbow, press down into your elbow and lift hips up off the floor sideways (you can do this with your feet as the balance point or with your knees bent and your knees as the balance point), hold, then lower down slowly toward the ground without touching down and lift back up again, do 3x repetitions and then repeat on second side

6. Parsvakonasana (side angle pose)

 7. Intercostal Curl Ups (using a rolled up towel, blanket or a stability ball): roll or fold a towel or blanket up so it is a couple of inches or more tall when you lay it on the floor, lie backwards over the roll with the roll positioned near the bottom of your shoulder blades (you should be able to curl backward over it into a bit of a backbend… you can also do this with a big stability ball, in which case you would just drape yourself backwards over the ball with your feet on the floor and ball positioned under your mid to upper back), inhale and fill your belly and ribs as you lean backward over the support (your ribs will poke upward into the air a bit), exhale and as the ribs draw down to press the breath out use this action to initiate a small crunch (you are trying to get the muscles in between the ribs, the intercostals, to initiate the crunch… this exercise is aimed at them in particular), do 10x reps and then rest for a few breaths in the backbend position (if comfortable)

 8. Leg Lifts: lying on your back on the floor lift both legs up in the air (either straight or with a slight bend in your knees), engage your abdominal muscles and stabilize your upper body so that it does not move around as you do this exercise, inhale and lower your right leg toward the ground, hold, and bring it back up on an exhale, switch sides and repeat until you begin to tire.

 9. Down Dog Sliders: put a slippery piece of cloth (a towel or rag or even just wear slippery socks) down on a slippery floor (finished wood is best) and do downward facing dog… if you want to up the difficulty a bit try pulling your feet toward your hands using your core strength and then sliding them back again

 10. Eka Pada Bhekasana Belly down quad stretch

 11. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge pose)

 12. Savasana