I don't know why, but I LOVE handstands. Honestly, I think most people either LOVE or HATE handstands. Have you ever heard anyone say "I LIKE handstands?
Anyway, this month in my public classes, I decided to focus on handstands. Why in the world would I want to teach handstands in an all-levels class? The answer is not that I don't want people to come to class in August! Its more about teaching the components of handstands when not having to actually be on your hands! Some people have no desire to be upside down on their hands. And that is totally OK with me. BUT, there are many components to handstands that are valuable in other poses as well as understanding alignment and how the puzzle pieces fit together.
core + yoga
Why "core + yoga" you ask? For me, its as simple as a foundation to a building...without the foundation, the building would collapse. Without a strong core, our spine would not be supported and make every day movements difficult.
Our core runs through the center of our bodies. And believe it or not, it include muscles other than our "abs". Our core attaches our upper body to our lower body. It supports our spine. Lifting our leg requires our core muscles to fire. Doing a squat requires support of our abdominal and back muscles. Hitting a tennis ball or mopping a floor requires power that originates in the core.
Most often we take for granted something as simple as standing or bending over to put on our shoes...until it becomes painful. Your core stabilizes your body and because it supports your spine, a strong core supports good posture which allows your to breathe naturally and fully.
Yoga involves breathe. Yoga involves balance. Yoga involves movements like squats and moving from one posture to the next. If the core is weak, breathe and movement can be challenged and often, do not occur without risk of injury or discomfort and pain.
When we want to start to incorporate more challenging postures like inversions and arm balances, our core is a key component to accurately execution of these postures.
Strengthening the core in our yoga practice provides a solid foundation to building our shapes in our bodies, no differently that you need the right foundation to support a building structure or over time, it will break down.
So next time you step onto your mat to practice yoga and the teacher throws in a few rounds of boat to half boat pose, turn that frown upside down! Not only will it help you build the strength you need to do more challenging postures like bakasana and handstand, but it will help to support your spine in every day movements we often take for granted like picking up our children or swinging a tennis racket.