What are you doing right now? Sitting? I'm going to guess you are!
Whether at a desk job from 9-5 or coming home to laze around on the couch, the epidemic of sitting is taking a massive toll on bodies worldwide! Take a moment and think about how you feel. Like really feel. Are you happy?
Do you feel strong & confident? Does your body feel healthy, tired, or sore? These are just some ideas. Take inventory on your life.
Not only does sitting all the time cause tight hip flexors it also weakens the abdominal muscles if nothing is done to counteract all that sitting! A weak core is a common cause of lower back strain, poor posture
and can even cause weakness, numbness, and tingling down into the hips and legs. Not to mention you may feel sluggish and tired in general!
So what do we do? It's time to incorporate some ab work into your morning or nightly routine (or both!
Here are our favorite core exercises to counteract your desk job:
Bird Dog is a favorite warm-up often used in yoga classes. It helps build stability through cross-lateral action. Come into a tabletop position with the hands under the shoulders and the knees underneath the hips. Reach your right leg straight back and then reach your opposite left arm by your ear. Make sure everything stays square and parallel.
You can remain here balancing or for more of a challenge, on an exhalation, draw the left elbow and the right knee together into the middle of your body. Try to hollow the abdominals by lifting them up toward your spine. As you inhale, lengthen everything back up, maintaining your balance. Repeat 10 times on each side.
We all know the good 'ole plank, but how many of us are actually incorporating it into our workouts? Are you jumping straight to push-ups or skipping it completely? Planks are so good to hold because they also build strength and stability throughout the entire body.
From your tabletop position, tuck your toes and extend one leg back at a time so that your body becomes horizontal to the floor. Press down firmly with your hands and engage your shoulder blades- this is great for your posture! With every breath, try to suck the belly high up toward the spine and keep the legs engaged. Stay here for 30 seconds to 1 minute, building your time up slowly and gradually.
The Bridge is also a classic exercise great for the core and spine. What makes this exercise unique is the combination of spinal mobility with ab work.
Lie on your back with your arms by your sides, knees bent with the feet on the floor in line with your hips. On an inhale, tuck the tailbone under by imprinting the lower back into the mat while hollowing out the lower belly. Begin to slowly roll the spine up as high as you can, squeezing the hips and keeping the belly sucked in. When it pops up, you lose the core support of the spine! Don't let that happen. Hold for 10 counts at the top and then slowly roll back down one vertebra at a time. Repeat 5 times.
Toe Taps are a deceptively simple exercise. On the outside, it looks like your just simply lifting your leg up and down, but when done correctly, they activate the deep abdominals to do the work instead of recruiting the hip flexors. This one gets bonus points as well for lower spine stabilization, which can help correct poor posture in the lower back.
It's time to heat things up & get your heart rate going! Especially after all that sitting. You can do these alone or try them in between each one of the exercises for a challenge!
To do a Burpee, stand up with your feet underneath your hips. Do a small jump with your arms raised overhead and land with bent knees. Touch the floor and jump your feet back into a plank position. Then, hop the feet back forward and return to the starting position.
If the hopping is too much, do a Half-Burpee instead by skipping the initial hop and stepping the feet back.
You can try these today at home- you don't need anything except for yourself! It's time to get out of the chair and move the body- after all- that's what it was meant to do! Your abs will thank you!
Lindsay Nova is a firm believer in the wisdom of the body, the strength of the heart, and the power of the breath. She holds a BFA in Dance & Choreography from Ohio University and has been teaching yoga since 2008. Lindsay is also a certified Pilates and barre instructor as well as a Reiki Level 2 practitioner. She has taught yoga and worked as a performance artist across the United States and currently travels the globe teaching yoga.