The other day in class I asked my students how they were feeling in the midst of a pretty difficult sequence that involved quite a few core exercises. One woman shouted out that as long as she would get a flat belly from the work we were doing she was just fine.

While I can’t guarantee that you’ll get a flat belly from doing yoga, you can definitely sculpt and tone your core muscles when you practice a dynamic style like vinyasa flow or power yoga.

It’s more about control then six-pack abs and flat bellies

Core is controversial because on the one hand the sensationalized Hollywood version of a nice core is a six-pack and on the other hand almost every super yogi/ini that I know who can do the craziest handstands, arm balances, and pretzel twisty yoga poses does not have a six-pack but is arguably stronger then any six-packer. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

With core strength, you can have it even if you can’t necessarily see it when you take your shirt off. So while flat bellies are nice, I’m more concerned about helping you build a particular kind of core strength then I am helping you flatten out your belly.

I guess you have to ask yourself what’s more important – looking nice or actually feeling and being truly strong?

That’s not to say that you can’t have both, but at least be clear what your goal is first.

The different parts of the core

In today’s short video, we’ll work on developing the core muscles in a variety of ways, starting with your core stabilizers.

You use your stabilizer muscles in your core to help you balance. This comes in handy in everyday life when you find yourself trying to maneuver around all the junk in your garage as you make your way to your car — at least, it helps me in that particular situation. Your stabilizer muscles help you when you’re in the kitchen reaching for that mug just out of reach or when you’re cleaning the house and trying to get to that one spot underneath the sink that is crazy impossible to access. Your stabilizer muscles help you when you’re running, standing, walking, balancing on one foot and integrity in these muscles will help you feel stronger and more balanced in your every day life.

From the stabilizers, we’ll work on the rectus abdominus (six-pack muscles) because while they aren’t everything, they’re still important. Everything is connected and it’s important to have a balanced practice so you are able to isolate and strengthen every part of your body.

The transverse abdominus are a real butt-kicker and are the hardest muscles to develop, because they’re so deep, and quite frankly it hurts (in a good way) to engage them.

And finally, your obliques help you move side to side and establish tone around your entire torso.

I know you can do this and here’s why

So try your hand at some core work today. Tell yourself you can do this because I believe in you and you should believe in yourself too.

Another student of mine recently double checked to make sure she was in the right classroom. She felt out of place and a little scared that the class was going to be to advanced for her based on who she saw in the room. Remember, it’s not about what everyone else is doing or what they can do. It’s not about what I can do. It’s about you showing up on your mat and doing the best that you can today and each day after.

I believe in you.

Now let’s get to work 🙂

P.S. – Meet Mandy, my dog who insists on being part of my yoga practice whenever I roll out my mat. You’ll probably be seeing her around from time to time. I leave her in because this is the reality of practicing at home. Distractions abound and it’s part of our practice to let it all be just as it is and keep on truckin. Yeah, I just used the word “truckin”