Core and Spine – gentle control is the key
If you are already a Yoga teacher, you may notice that some of your students are great at all of the asana that require flexibility, (it may even be what drew them to Yoga in the first place), but lack strength in say Kumbakasana (Plank) held for any length of time. And you may notice that no amount of Navasana (Boat) seems to be getting to their core muscles.
It might be that you are simply asking them to gather strength in a part of their body that they have no idea how to control. Pregnancy, low back pain, bad posture, and hormones can all effect function in the deep muscles.But, going from no control to a full Plank held for 5 breaths is a no-no. It just bypasses all the things that are supposed to connected before the asana, and goes straight for endurance.
As with all yoga asana, someone ability to get into the asana does not automatically mean that this is a good position for them to be in!
The Spine and the core muscles are interlinked. It’s impossible to do something with one, without effecting the other.
At a very basic level, our ability to train and encourage motor function of these two places requires our control of mobilising and stabilising the axial skeleton.
So assuming you all know about Neutral Spine this first exercise starts in that very position.
The simple exercise, Knee Fold, encourages the muscles of the natural corset of the body to anticipate the load of a single, and then a double leg being lifted from the floor.
It then requires our transversus abdominus ,oblique, multifidus, quadratus lumborum, (primarily) along with the lumbo-pelvic and abdominal fascia to resist the weight of the leg or legs, only to the degree of maintaining a stable torso. For good control we need constant checking-in with the area, and the signals to the area, to assess if the effort given to the corset is optimal for the task, or effort-full.
We are aiming for as little effort as needed for the job. No sucking, bracing or scooping.
The stabilising muscles of the body possess more slow-twitch fibres than fast twitch. This means particular care should be taken to educate them rather than train them in any kind of traditional stamina/endurance fashion, as this may run the risk of working the area too eagerly or aggressively. This can actually cause a counter-effect in the muscles and switch them off.
So gentle control is the key.