I’ve taught a fair few classes on core focus and centring in yoga and like some of my other favourite themes it’s one I keep coming back to and rediscovering every time I teach it. We hear a lot about core strengthening these days in the health industry, but it’s often more about powering up, tightening up and hardening up…than the yogic approach, and that of any other really good core strengthening protocol, of balancing strength and stretch, stability and ease, give and take. It’s a subtle art of learning how to support ourselves. When introducing almost every core class I’ve taught I’ve read this quote from Desiree Rumbaugh
The core is what supports us spiritually in our lives and physically in our yoga practice. If our core is weak, the ups and downs of life are much harder to take. A strong core makes us more resilient.
Even those of us who don’t know much about our own bodies, know that a strong core is good for us on a physical level. But what about centring and core work on a deeper level?
When I last taught on the core it got me thinking about the state of my own core. It’s not what it used to be in my 20’s that’s for sure and certainly doesn’t compare to my pre-baby central region. How is it then that I can do a free-standing headstand only now. That after practising and trying so hard for several years before, it came quietly and easily when my son was a few months old. Perhaps it’s down to awareness and connection with my centre? Perhaps all the goings-on and centre-of-gravity shifts that happen when carrying another human being around in there make you more sensitive to your core mechanics, or perhaps that little bit of letting go that you have to do to make space for a little person, helps you to learn to find that sweet spot between contraction and release, between muscle and breath that gets you up on your head with less effort that you imagined possible?
Whatever it is, core work is about more that crunches and planks, it’s about going deeply inward to find your centre and reside there as you move through the challenges of each pose, each unsettling thought or troubling emotion. To really develop a strong core it’s the give that you need to understand, the ability to absorb stress and challenge without becoming rigid, to continue to move through and with every breath and every moment, whilst remaining still and stable. It’s a peaceful power that springs from the deepest essence of your true being.
As only he can, Osho puts it magnificently,
Up until now you have lived as a chaos, a crowd. Yoga means now you will have to be a harmony, you will have to become one. A crystallization is needed; a centring is needed…A centre is the first necessity and only a person can be blissful who has got a centre.
So easy to feel on the mat compared to when life throws you completely off-balance. Perhaps the answer or the first step at least is to stop, breathe deeply and quite literally pull yourself together…find your centre and when you’re ready, move from there.
If that doesn’t work…keep practising your Navasana…