What is the core? Amidst a cultural jumble of "core strength" and "core power yoga" and varied motivations for "core work-outs," understanding the true core can be very confusing.
The core refers to the deepest layers of muscles of the body, which work together as a functional unit. Think of the apple core of the human body: the deep spinal muscles, the deepest layers of abdominal muscles, the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, the inner intercostals. The outer layers of muscles, or the sleeve, often become over-active and rigid, thus inhibiting healthy core function. A sleepy or dysfunctional core can cause other problems in the body, such as back pain, clenched buttocks, tight hips, and tense shoulders.
How can we engage, utilize, visualize, and feel the core while practicing yoga? How can we restore optimal core function, therefore restoring proper function throughout the whole body? How can we cultivate optimal core / sleeve coordination? How does the core fit into the yogic map?
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