Having a healthy spine and a strong core will improve your overall health and stability. These are also two of the areas you should focus most if you want to advance your practice.
These poses will help you to activate the posterior chain, and engage the abdominals.
You will want to have 1 block handy for this practice.
1. Supported Bridge – Lay down, with knees bent and feet on the ground. Lift the hips up, and slide a block under to support (either on the lowest or middle setting). Roll the shoulders down and away from the ears. Rest your hands where comfortable. Pull the left knee in towards the chest. Possibly extending the right leg out. If your hips and low back are tight, the right heel might hover off of the ground. Repeat on the other leg.
2. Toe Taps – Stay on the block, and float the feet off the floor, stacking knees over the hips. Keep the shins parallel to the floor. Activate and engage your abdominals. Keeping the left leg steady, tap the right toes down to the mat. Lift them up. Alternate legs. Do 5-10 rounds like this. Extend the legs long, then drop both a few degrees down. Holding here for a few breaths.
3. Functional Bridge – With the hips back on the ground, place the block in the slimmest direction between the thighs. Walk the heels out, until you only have a small bend in the knees. Flex the feet, so only the heels are touching the mat. Bring your arms down beside you, bend the elbows and turn the palms to face in. Squeeze into the block. Push into the arms and feet to lift the hips off of the mat. They will only come up a couple of inches.
4. Two-Legged Table – Come up to table top, with the knees under the hips and the palms under the shoulders. Engage the core, drawing the belly in, and avoid arching in the low back. Reach the left leg up and back. Keep the hip rolling down. Stay here, or also extend the right hand forward (palm facing in, bicep along the ear). Notice the temptation to drop in the low back as you hold. Return hand and knee to mat. Repeat on the other side.
5. Cobra with Block – Lower down to the belly. Grab the block, pressing it lengthwise between the palms. Extend it forward overhead. Keep the back of the neck long. Press the tops of the feet into the floor. Reach the tailbone down, pressing the pubic bone into the mat. Inhale, lift the upper body and block up. Exhale to lower. Do at least 3 rounds.
6. Warrior 3 – Standing at the front of the mat, with the block between the palms. Step the left foot back, tucking the toes and keeping heel lifted. Bend into the right knee. Reach the hands overhead. Keep the floating ribs pushing down and lengthening through the spine. Keep the hips facing forward. Start to hinge forward from the hips, lifting the left toes off the mat. Keep the hip rotating down and kick back through the heel. Lower the toes, lift up, and repeat on the other leg.
7. Straddle to C Curve – Come to a seat. Widen the legs out to the sides. Pelvis should be able to tilt forward. If you are rolling back, narrow the feet. Press the block between the hands, reach the hands overhead. Flex the feet. Inhale to lift up. Exhale to tilt forward. Inhale to lift up. Exhale, to tilt backwards about half way, lowering the hands in front of you. Do about 5 rounds. To finish, fold and melt forward, releasing the block.
Want a full 30 minute vinyasa flow focuses on core and spine? Practice along with me in the video below.