Activate your core

Tags: Good Living
Activate your core
Last week we discussed the benefits of pilates for men. The fact is however, that when properly done pilates can help everyone. One of the fundamental tenets of pilates is core activation. If you are able to practice this you will take a huge step in getting a stronger and better body. You can apply this to your day to day life and any exercise you enjoy doing. There are five steps in core activation process. Start with your feet hip width apart, pelvis and hips aligned with the pubic bone, and your weight evenly distributed between four points of each feet. Now that our basic alignment is done, we are going to activate the core.

Navel into the spine: Put your right index finger on top of your navel and the thumb of the left hand at the same spot on the back. Pull the navel in as close into the spine as possible. Imagine that, there is somebody inside your stomach hooking your navel and pulling it in with the rope towards the spine from within and then wrapping the rope around the spine as tightly as possible making you very narrow at the navel area.

Scooping: Place your right hand with the palm cupped right above the pubic bone and make a movement like scooping a ball of ice cream so that the entire lower abdomen area becomes pulled in and up. In my experience, this is the step most people are having trouble with as engaging the lower abdominal muscles seems to be more difficult than engaging the upper part of them. So here is a little exercise which we are going to do to help you engage this area better.

Ball in the ring: Imagine your pelvis is a large ring with a ball right in the centre of it. Inhale through the nose and while pulling the navel into the spine and scooping the stomach, start lifting the ball higher and higher till it starts floating in the middle of your abdomen, just a little above from your navel line from within. This will engage your pelvic floor muscles, taking the pressure away from the pelvis.

Smash: After we have completed the first three steps, it is time to really engage those core muscles. We do that by pushing ourselves into the ground as much as we can without changing either the alignment or the posture.

Lengthen: This is the time, when it all comes together. As you contract the abdominal muscles by pushing yourself into the ground, I want you to take a deep breath in and lengthen your entire torso area without losing the tightness (contraction). Observe how your entire stomach is becoming lean, lengthened, and narrow. Feel how the lower back area becomes gently stretched and decompressed. You have just gained a few centimeters in height while losing maybe a couple of inches in width!

Mastering this and applying constantly in your life is a process that can take months, but the moment you consciously trying to apply this your body you would have taken a giant step in centering your body and acquiring a strong core and balanced body that will help work, exercise, and do your day to day chores that much more easily and efficiently for the rest of your life.

(The author is a wellness expert and runs a fitness centre in New Delhi)

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