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8 Core Workouts For The Attractive Body Shape

8 Core Workouts For The Attractive Body Shape

Other than having great toned abdominals that look good on the beach, having a strong core helps prevent injuries, as most movement starts at the centre and moves outwards. This means that if you have a strong core, it will ensure your general movements are strong and pain-free. A strong core helps to relieve back pain, as this pain is usually caused by a weak core.

Having a strong core will also help protect your organs since your core muscles surround these organs along with your nervous system. Strong muscles will allow vital organs, such as the heart, to work to their full capacity.

Core is important when it comes to posture. Having a strong core will allow you to stand, sit, walk, and run with the muscle support needed to maintain good posture and prevent back pain or difficulties.

With all these points in mind, here are 8 great core exercises that you can follow to get yourself on the road to a much-needed optimal core.

If you want to know more about weight loss, you can’t miss the following article that provides all useful tips you need:

Weight Loss Plan And Program: Create Your Own One

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1. Plank

One of the best core exercises out there, the plank concentrates on the muscles running all the way through your body.

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    image via popsugar.com
    1. Lie on your front and gently raise your body onto your elbows, making sure elbows are shoulder-width apart.
    2. Slowly raise yourself onto your tip toes and hold.
    3. Beginner: Try holding a plank for as long as possible. Aim for 30 seconds to a minute and increase this over each workout.
    4. Advanced: Once you’ve mastered a basic plank, try different plank variations, including side planks — these are great for challenging your core muscles.

    2. Side Jack Knife

    This exercise is great for your abs and will give you an effective workout for your core muscles. It really squeezes your obliques as you lift your legs.

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      image via menshealth.co.uk
      1. Lie on your side with your legs nearly straight and slightly raised off the floor.
      2. Lift your torso off the floor and keep your left forearm on the floor for balance. Hold your other hand behind your right ear, with your elbow pointing towards your feet.
      3. Lift your legs towards your torso while keeping your torso stationary. Feel the stretch on the side of your body and pause for a few seconds.
      4. Slowly lower your leg.
      5. Beginner: Repeat this for 3 sets of 10 reps before changing sides.
      6. Advanced: Try a more advanced version that gets you using both top and bottom abdominals at the same time.

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      3. Squats

      Core workouts that include squats are essential. Not only do squats help with stability and mobility, they work the muscles through the entire body from the abdominals downwards, creating a great all-round optimal exercise.

      squats
        1. Start with your feet hip-width apart, keeping your back straight with shoulders pulled back, then straighten your arms out in front of you.
        2. Slowly bend your knees and push your butt out and down as though you’re about to sit down on a chair.
        3. Lower yourself so that your thighs are parallel to the floor, your knees are positioned slightly over your ankles, and your head and shoulders are aligned over your knees.
        4. Using your leg and butt muscles, slowly push up, keeping your weight evenly distributed throughout, and come back to a standing position.
        5. Beginner: start off with a repetition of 3 sets of 10 squats and increase the amount of squats in each set by 1 squat each day.
        6. Advanced: To make this move more difficult, add handheld weights, keeping them at your side throughout the exercise. Increase weights for more intensity.

        4. Arm, Leg, and Chest Raises

        This move really concentrates on your core muscles and allows them to work at their full potential.

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          image via positivemed.com
          1. Lie on the floor, face down with arms stretched out and legs straight.
          2. Slowly raise both arms up as far as you can and at the same time lift up both legs.
          3. Keep this position for a few seconds and then release your arms and legs back down to the floor.
          4. Beginner: Do 3 sets of 10 reps trying to increase the amount of time you’re engaging the core muscles.
          5. Advanced: Try adding a roll into the exercise by engaging the core on your front and then rolling carefully on to your back with legs and arms above you. This will work your core muscles even further.

          5. Quadruped

          This move tightens your abdominal muscles and improves balance.

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          Quadruped
            image via popsugar.com
            1. Start on your hands and knees. Place your hands directly below your shoulders, align your head and neck with your back, and tighten your abdominal muscles.
            2. Raise your right arm off the floor and reach ahead. Stay in this position for 5 seconds. Lower your right arm and repeat with your left arm.
            3. Raise your right leg off the floor, making sure to use your muscles to maintain balance. Hold for 5 seconds and lower your leg to the floor. Repeat with the left leg.
            4. Beginner: Repeat full arm and leg movements 5 times each, raising the amount of time you hold positions to add a challenge.
            5. Advanced: Hold a weight in your hand for an added challenge or raise both the opposite arm and leg together to work the core muscles more.

            6. Abdominal Hold

            While it may be tough at first, this move will help you build strength in your core.

            abdominal-hold
              image via muscledose.com
              1. Make sure you have a sturdy chair.
              2. Sit tall on the edge of the chair and place your hands on the chair down beside you, holding on to the sides.
              3. Tighten your abs and gently lift your toes about 2-4 inches off the ground and lift your butt off the chair.
              4. Beginner: Hold this position for as long as you can — aim for 5 -10 seconds.
              5. Advanced: Try challenging yourself by holding for up to a minute or add a stable weight to your lap to create added resistance and work the abdominals even more.

              7. Side Crunches

              Side crunches as part of your core workouts are a good way of targeting your mid-section.

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                image via gym-inspiration.com
                1. Lie on your left side with your legs lying on top of each other.
                2. Bend your knees so that they are at a rough 90-degree angle.
                3. Begin by moving your right hand to your right ear with the elbow pointing up. Start to move up and over to the side slightly until you can feel the burn in your obliques. Repeat on opposite the side.
                4. Beginner: Do 10 reps 3 times on both sides, increasing as you feel ready to to keep your abs challenged.
                5. Advanced: Try these advanced side crunches to get an extra burn.

                8. Using a Stability Ball

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                  Simple exercises using a stability ball can activate twice as many core muscles as classic belly toners like crunches and sit-ups, so it’s well worth investing one.

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                  For beginners, this core workout is a really great introduction to using a stability ball. Incorporate this into the rest of the workout or pick and choose certain exercises if you have time constraints:

                  This is great for more advanced stability ball exercises, working your core to the maximum:

                  Tips When Doing Your Core Workouts

                  • Write down a schedule of your workouts as this will help you to keep your motivation high. Start with a weekly or monthly timetable of each daily workout you do. Make sure you show exactly how many reps you will do for each exercise and show a progression throughout the week or month by adding weights and intensity.
                  • Be aware of your limits — if you feel pain at any stage, then stop the exercise immediately. Start easy and work your way up as this will make the workouts a lot more beneficial and will help you to avoid injuries.
                  • Always drink plenty of water when doing workouts as you can get easily dehydrated.
                  • Talk with your doctor if you suffer from back pain or are pregnant as these exercises may not be suitable.

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                  Jenny Marchal

                  A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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                  Published on January 17, 2020

                  How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

                  How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

                  If you think yoga can be learned on the mat, you’re wrong! To learn yoga is to learn yourself, your life and the world around you, which happens mostly off the mat.

                  Since 2000, I study, practice, teach and live yoga – I grow with it from year to year – hence life becomes more interesting and more meaningful from year to year, too. Through all these years, I observe the evolution of yoga in the western culture and see, how (mostly) wrongly, has been interpreted, taught and practiced. Little is known about how to learn yoga – about its practice, its effect and its application. Yoga is all about finding the simplicity and the meaning in the complexity of life.

                  But when we look around us, it doesn’t seem so simple, even for those who practice it, and for the most who teach it. Everything about yoga begins in its definition from the original yogic scripture Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[1]

                  And the value for how to learn yoga, is in this article – showing the value of the above definition and how to practice it in the simplest way, effectively and efficiently.

                  What is Yoga?

                  Yoga-Citta-Vrtti-Hirodhah — and its translation is: Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations arising within consciousness.

                  The 195 Sutras, that the original yoga scripture consists of, are written in a strongly compressed manner with the idea to deliver a profound meaning and a lot of space for interpretation. However, the interpreter must be highly serious and competent, otherwise the interpretation will drastically deviate from what the message conveys.

                  When the definition about yoga is interpreted and applied the right way, it tells us how yoga is to be practiced and explored. To start the right way, we must know the right destination of yoga, which is Kaivalya:[2] The union between you, the other and the world.

                  Let’s see how to do that:

                  Beginning with the famous mainstream slogan “Union of Body, Mind and Soul”, brings up the question, “How to reunite the body, mind and soul?”

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                  Your feelings – created by outside stimuli result in the creation of thoughts, hence there’s connection between your body and mind. That’s easy to understand, right?

                  Now this connection and the thoughts must serve and improve the mind, making it capable to 1) understand the soul and 2) to unite it with the body and mind. That’s where our journey towards the goal of yoga (Samadhi) is interrupted – making the main part of the union not easy to understand, even less so to accomplish.

                  Yoga is More Spiritual than Physical

                  This is what makes yoga more spiritual than physical. To put it in numbers, yoga is 97% of psychological, philosophical and spiritual nature and only some 3% of physiological, considering that there are only seven out of 195 Sutras referring physiologically to sitting and breathing, of which I talked in my earlier post on Yoga For men.

                  But before experiencing any spirituality from yoga, there is the mental (emotional) part that needs to be mastered and that part is to establish a connection between the body and mind. How?

                  The simple thought and realization that you are conscious of how you feel within your body (cold, warm, relaxed, depressed, anxious, happy and so on), means that you have made the union between your body and mind. (below the step by step exercise for that).

                  But to establish a connection to your soul – to the finest part of yourself – the Self:

                  You must find out (through thinking) what is the subtlest thing that drives your body and mind – yourself as an individual and use that driver to go pass beyond your physicality and mentality.

                  It is right here that you use the definition about yoga and the realization – the moment, where you are not analyzing any thoughts or feelings. This is a state of Yoga – a state of union between body, mind and soul, in which your consciousness has ceased to identify with its fluctuations.

                  Yoga as Creativity and Expertise of the Individual

                  In such a case, there is no specific (like beginners, intermediate or advanced) technique for learning yoga. The moment of the state of yoga arises for everyone of us in an individual way as everybody’s physique and mental content are different. You might be very well advanced in performing the most difficult asanas for decades but still unable and incompetent to be in a state of union with your body, mind and soul. Whereas, if you are a beginner and possess the grace and other virtues, than it’s easier and quicker to establish that connection.

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                  As yoga is an inherent part of the human being, firstly, in order to pave the yoga path successfully and effectively, you must understand that yoga is not a technique for performance, but rather a creativity and expertise of yourself.

                  Your learning process cannot be focused on, nor conditioned by a certain handbook, someone’s instructions or some specific school.

                  Learning yoga requires your creativity to look within yourself and learn from yourself, become the expert of your feelings, emotions and desires. You, as a beginner might already possess many qualities and prerequisites for creating the union between your body, mind and soul, but your knowledge requires creativity for your growth to reach the state of union and then reap the fruits of that union. Once this happens there is no turning back – you’ll be pulled by the beauty and energy of your on being.

                  Be Fast Mentally and Slow Physically

                  As already mentioned, you don’t need to do physical performances like the split or the headstand to be able to immerse in a deep meditation or Samadhi. But you do need enough creativity for your self-inquiry.

                  Many of my students start working directly with meditation – attending the complexities of the mind, because that’s where the hindrances lie. There, the meditator is able to work on the cessation of identifying with the fluctuations of the consciousness – where intelligence expands, adversity ends and the individual is ready to pass through its physicality and mentality in order to reach the union with the soul.

                  But if you’re really a beginner and cannot start with that, then you can start enhancing your creativity on the body-mind level. The exercise follows in the next paragraph.

                  The greater your creativity, the better your expertise about yourself – the deeper your competence to inquire further into the union with your soul. Sure enough that a more pliable and healthy physical body has some advantages and better preconditions for that, but don’t get discouraged because your body-mind union will open up the way.

                  So here we are, you are at the moment to enhance your creativity upon that union. Please, take this as a very serious part of the practice as it is crucial for learning yoga – for learning yourself.

                  The Beginner’s Exercise – Creativity upon Body-Mind Union

                  The first and most important element to learn and practice yoga is of physiological and psychological nature: Stillness:

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                  1. Make sure your body is still and comfortable.
                  2. Focus on breathing to initiate observing.
                  3. Observe your body and identify the first feeling that occurs to you.
                  4. Keep identifying feelings and emotions, but without getting involved with them.
                  5. Now create feelings and emotions as you please and let them go.

                  That’s it! That’s the creativity upon the body-mind union. The validity of this creativity lies in the stillness and observance of that union. In this practice you can learn to understand and catch the moment – the main ingredient of life.

                  Life is a sequence of moments and knowing that you’re able to manage that sequence is a new level of living life, called dharma – the practical and skillful way of living. An essential character develops as a result of practicing this discipline.

                  However, be aware that we are still talking about outward elements of yoga – the gross levels (from Yama to Pratyahara) whereas the subtle, inward elements (Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) are yet to be approached, learned and implemented. It is on these subtle levels that you can realize the depth of spirituality and the essence of yoga.

                  It is remarkable how the science of yoga can take you in such heights and depths of exploring life and being. Little is known about the essence and the right practice of yoga in the west. There is a huge knowledge gap between how yoga should be learned and how it is practiced today in the west. You can bridge this gap by practicing the above exercise.

                  Know that yoga is of a very subtle nature – operating on a subtle energetic level – the level of your mental energies, your thoughts. That means that it is to be learned at that level and not on any other. A body posture alone cannot take you to that level if you don’t apply your creativity and self-inquiry.

                  Prerequisite for Yogic Success – Union between You and the Other

                  Yoga is nothing, if our relationships with others are not managed harmonically.

                  Learning yoga is also learning connecting with the other – with the stranger who’s not you but carries the same “core”, the same heart as you. We as individuals, possess the inborn feature of Ego – the “I-consciousness” that makes us feel separate from the rest of what makes the wholeness.

                  This separation is the second of the the five “klesah” afflictions[3] – that stand as major hindrance against the union (Yoga) – called “asmita” or I-am-ness / Egoism (Y.S. II.6.), and has to be cultivated and brought to a level of discernment that will lessen our disturbance that comes out the fragmentation between the “I-am-ness” and the “Other-ness”.

                  This is a crucial concept in Yoga and it is inevitable to be worked upon this hindrance in order to reach the inner “psychological” freedom or the ultimate liberation “Kaivalya” for which Yoga stands for. But, again, if you are beginner in this part, you want to know how to start dealing with all this. Here is the exercise:

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                  1. Practice observance from the first exercise.
                  2. Realize that the structure of your feelings, emotions, etc. is identical with the one of the other individuals.
                  3. Practice witnessing, tolerating and gradually accepting the diversity between yourself and the other individuals.
                  4. Observe for so long with equanimity, until you see the uniformity in that diversity.

                  This is one of the greatest accomplishments a human being can achieve. To be, means, to be in relationship – internally, as well as externally.

                  Yogic Lifestyle – Union Between You, The Other and The World

                  Here comes the last piece of the puzzle – the union – on the highest level of worldly existence – between you, the other and the world. This means that Yoga is also worthless if practiced only on the mat. So when learning yoga, especially when practicing the body-mind union, consider if:

                  You speak the language of nature and how you’re connected to nature and its basic elements? Do you complicate your existence by thinking that you are in the center of the world and require extra attention and acknowledgement?

                  Thinking this way interferes with the practice of yoga. And surely, you might wonder, what should be done here in order to create that harmony in union? You’d be amazed to know that there is one important yogic movement that needs to be done. That is:

                  The action of not doing anything but contemplating! Then yoga happens.

                  Yes, this goes beyond the physicality and mentality of your being. As our bodies play just a tiny part of the evolution of existence, we must not attach to the world in that sense – clinging to worldly life with that insatiable urge that generates worries and anxiety – but rather grow through life with detachment and the attitude that life has been gifted to us with the purpose to realize that gift and attain the wisdom of life.

                  Go Beyond Your Physicality and Mentality

                  Attaining greatness like connecting to the world and to your soul, we must pass beyond the thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the influence they have on us. Hence we want to make the mental fluctuations to cease and let yoga shine its light through this yogic movement:

                  The stillness and the watching within.

                  Can yoga be understood and achieved in one single session and then practiced continuously, productively and effectively? Of course it can. Your union within yourself, the other and the world is lot simpler and easier than you think. Practice these simple yogic movements diligently, seriously but also effortlessly and your yoga will be flourishing and fruitful. I salute the spirit in you!

                  More About Yoga

                  Featured photo credit: Avrielle Suleiman via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
                  [2] Wikipedia: Kaivalya
                  [3] Plato Stanford: Klesah

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