Building a Strong Core (and More) Through Yoga

I first started doing yoga around 10 years ago. It was very casual … I went to a weekly Vinyasa class at New York Sports Club on Sunday mornings. Going in person was a good idea in the beginning, since the instructors would adjust my form and share helpful hints. The most useful advice was how to avoid sore wrists by making sure your palms laid flat on the ground and your middle fingers extended straight ahead. Following this guidance, I’ve never once experienced sore wrists.

A Pause for Pregnancy and Diastasis Recti
After I got pregnant with my twins, I wasn’t permitted to engage in much physical activity for fear of inducing premature labor. And after having my kids, I didn’t work out again for 10 months because we had no help, and I was commuting 3 hours round-trip for work each day. A few months after I got a new job and shortened my commute to a little over 30 minutes each way, I started taking part in the yoga class they offered at work once a week.

It felt great to engage in physical activity again, but a couple of months in, I read that I should avoid yoga until my diastasis recti healed a bit. So I switched to doing cardio and light weights at the gym during my lunch hour. Yoga went on the back burner for a couple of years, until my abdominal muscle separation got better. You can read more about what I did to fix my abdominal separation in this post.

Diving into Yoga Again … and the Benefits
I got back into yoga because I wanted to improve my posture, and found a 10 minute practice I liked from SarahBethYoga on YouTube. I did this routine regularly, and when I quit my job in 2017, I started doing it every day. After about a year, I felt ready to do more. SarahBethYoga has a 7 day yoga challenge, which I got into, with different 15 minute routines for every day of the week. I liked that each day focuses on a different style … Vinyasa, Hatha, and Power. It helped loosen me up, strengthened my core, and made my body functional. For the first time in my life, I felt strong and my body was actually useful.

Other than the physical benefits, yoga helped build my mind-body connection. I became very aware of what was feeling good and what was bothering me. I also started to eliminate the things that made me feel bad, the most significant of which was alcohol. You can read more about that here.

Getting Strong Now
I worked on my yoga practice slowly, building up as I went so that I was never discouraged, but always slightly challenged. The beauty is that even with the same routine, you can make it harder for yourself as you get stronger, or easier if you're having an off day. That worked for me until I got diagnosed with POTS and realized that I had to build more muscle and make my heart stronger (read more about my POTS diagnosis and how I manage my symptoms here).

At that point, I branched out to the 7 minute workout and lifting weights with the 30 day dumbbell workout challenge from Healthista. I rotated between those two workouts as well as the 30 minute Beach Bod yoga routine by SarahBethYoga. This week, I wanted to take it to the next level, so I started doing 30 minute workouts on PopSugar Fitness, followed up by the yoga workout of the day with SarahBethYoga as a stretch, and finishing with 5-10 minutes of meditation.

In Conclusion
Yoga has been so great for my posture, core strength, and overall body functionality. I can lift large and heavy things now that I never could have before, or even imagined. Yoga was the gateway exercise I needed to get me strong enough and in good enough shape to tackle more intensive workouts. It’s something I definitely want to keep as part of my workout routine because it helps to keep all the parts of my body limber and prevent injury, as well as address soreness.


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