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Yoga > Yoga Therapy

2 Exercises for Strong Abs (and a Healthy Back)


Try these abdominal exercises to strengthen your core and support a
healthy, pain-free back.
BY Doug Keller

ON June 4, 2013

e article No More Back Pain! Tone the Right Abs (/article/view/nomore-back-pain-tone-the-right-abs) explains in detail how the abdominal
muscles are designed to protect the lumbar spine against disk problemsand
how you can strengthen the right abs to prevent this common source of lower
back pain. Here are two more yoga exercises you can try at home.

Exercise 1: Working Back and Forth in Boat


and Half Boat Pose
Begin in paripurna navasana (boat pose). To move into ardha navasana (half
boat pose), bend your knees, lowering your feet to the oor. Clasp your
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thighs with your hands and curl down through your lower backpulling on
the thighs with your hands to slow your descentuntil your lower back and
sacrum are on the oor and there is no inward arch in your lower back. (As
the abdominals get stronger, you will no longer need to hold your thighs, or
even bend your knees.)
Firm your lower belly below the navel, pressing your lower back into the
oor while keeping your upper back (at the shoulder blades) lifted away from
the oor. Extend one leg and then the other leg out about 30 degrees to the
oor, with your lower belly rm, as in the previous exercises. If your back
begins to arch, your psoas is overpowering your abdominals, and you need to
bend your knees and hold your thighs, so that you can reestablish the
rounding of your lower back.
To complete the pose, extend your arms forward, parallel to each other and to
the oor.To come back up into paripurna navasana, bend your knees, clasp
your thighs with your hands, and rock up onto your sitbones, straightening
your spine. (As your lower back and thighs get stronger, you will be able to
lift up into the pose with straight legs, drawing your shoulders back as you
lift and open your chest.

e secret lies in ipping the pelvis forward into a

forward tilt.)
Work back and forth between the two poses several times, and then go from
pripurna navasana into baddhakonasana (bound angle pose), bending
forward slightly to stretch and release your adductors and hips.

Exercise 2: Rocking the Boat


Heres another way to work toward ardha navasana (half boat pose). Start on
your back and clasp one knee with your hands. Press your knee into your
hands to help you curl up until your upper back and shoulder blades come
away from the oor; your thigh should be vertical. At the same time, lift your
other legfully extendedabout 20 to 30 degrees from the oor. Your lower
belly is rm, your lower back pressed into the oor and rounded enough that
you can rock back and forth slightly, like a rocking chair.
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Slowly change legs without dropping your upper back or arching your lower
back. Youll feel your abdominals jump into action. Slowly alternate legs.
Finally, extend both legs while keeping your upper body lifted, your arms
reaching toward your feet. If this version causes pain or discomfort in your
neck, practice the reclining versions with your head supported comfortably.
If you have preexisting disk problems, stick with the gentler versions of the
previous exercises.
ABOUT Doug Keller (https://yogainternational.com/profile/57) Doug Keller
has a masters degree in philosophy from Fordham University. His yoga
journey includes 14 years of practicing in Siddha Yoga ashrams, intensive
training in the Iyengar and Anusara methods, and nearly a decade of
teaching in the U.S. and abroad. Asana instruction, essays, and other
enlightening information are available on his website
(http://www.doyoga.com).
#pelvic & abdominal

Photo by lululemon athletica

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