Both yoga and gym workouts are great forms of exercise to help you build strong muscles and lose weight.
But there are many regular gym-goers who can’t do a yoga session and there’s a reason why. Yoga works your core like no other form of exercise. Having a stable core is the basis for all exercises, including lifting weights in the gym.
But why is yoga better at building core strength and stability than working out in the gym?
First, let’s take a look at exactly what the core is and how yoga for core strength can help you.
What Is Your Core?
Many people think your core is just about your abdominals and getting that desired 6-pack.
This is where you are wrong.
The core is more than just the rectus abdominis. While this band of muscle at the front of your stomach area may be the most visible, there are deeper and more important muscles in your core.
The transversus abdominis is a very important supporting muscle that helps you breathe. It is wrapped around your torso area, similar to a corset. It supports your internal organs and stabilizes the whole area.
Your pelvic floor is a complex mesh of muscle in a triangular shape that sits in your anal and genital area. It helps you excrete waste, and also helps you hold it in! Women who are pregnant or have given birth have to re-build their pelvic floor muscles.
At the top of your torso is the diaphragm, which is responsible for expanding your chest area and allowing you to breathe. Your pelvis, hip flexors, and lower back muscles also form a part of your core and help to stabilize your back and hips.
So correct core functionality is much more than just 6-pack abs, and yoga is the perfect exercise for this.
Continue reading to find out why.
With yoga, you work out your whole body while moving through the different poses. Also, holding said poses requires a lot of core strength, stability, and flexibility – something you don’t get from weightlifting in the gym.
Gym workouts usually focus on one body part or one group of muscles at a time. They don’t normally incorporate stretches, or balance, or core stabilization. And if you work out at a gym by yourself without any professional observation, you are likely performing the exercises wrong.
In a yoga class, you will have an instructor there to correct your positioning and alignment every step of the way. You can’t develop your core muscles without correct alignment while working out.
If you attempt to work your core without correct alignment, you’ll likely injure your lower back.
Along with yoga regulating your body movements, it helps to regulate your breathing.
As you flow through the movements, your instructor will guide you on when to inhale and exhale correctly. Breathing correctly requires core engagement.
The diaphragm muscle is used to regulate your breathing, and will be strengthened by regular yoga sessions.
3. Bodyweight Movements
Yoga utilizes the full power of gravity to tone your muscles, and this includes your core.
All yoga positions, when performed correctly, require core engagement. This is not the same for gym movements. You can easily do many exercises at the gym without using your core to stabilize yourself (not recommended, but it happens).
Have you seen that abdominal ‘coning’ when fitness influencers on Instagram attempt core exercises?
That coning is from incorrect core development and will take a long time to correct. Many think the coning is your abdominals engaged. It actually comes from abdominal separation.
This happens naturally to pregnant women, but happens due to incorrect form when working out. Your yoga instructor will ensure you use your core correctly. Even the most basic core exercises are challenging with correct core engagement.
Tips for Using Your Core During a Yoga Session
To ensure correct core engagement during your yoga session, see below. Remember to ask your instructor if you aren’t sure how to correctly engage your core.
Tuck Under/ Pelvic Tilt
When in a yoga class, always think about tucking under your tail bone and pulling your belly button towards your spine.
This will help to correctly align the pelvis and engage your core musculature. This, in turn, will prevent lower back injury.
Read more on what tucking under does for your body during yoga.
When beginning a yoga class or moving into a new position, think about engaging the muscles from the bottom upwards.
First squeeze your inner thighs, glutes and pelvic floor. Then tuck your tailbone under and pull your belly button towards your spine. Then think about the curve of your lower back and try to keep that as flat as possible by using your abdominal muscles to push through.
Once you have your core engaged then go into the movement. Re-check your core engagement often throughout a yoga class.
It’s better to go back to a neutral position and re-engage than to stay in a position and strain your back or allow your pelvis to move out of alignment.
Yoga for Core Strength
Yoga is a great exercise that works your whole body at once. It requires your core to function correctly to stabilize the rest of your body as you flow through the different poses and movements.
Yoga will improve your core strength and stability to allow your body to function and move correctly.
We hope you enjoyed this article on yoga for core strength. For more information about the benefits of yoga, check out the other articles on our blog.