How strong would you say your core is? Our minds usually jump to planking, sit-ups and other creative exercises to strengthen the central most important part of our bodies. This is all fabulous, but what about the strength of your inner soul core?
In this 3rd blog in the series of ideas of How to Live in Alignment : Physically and Soulfully we will look at the ‘I’ in the acronym ALIGN for Inner Core. Be ready to take a quiz to dive into how to make your soul flex stronger and your core connect deeper.
Ready . Set . Strengthen .
Let’s start with clarifying your character strengths and weaknesses. Take this psychometrically validated personality test that will help you discover your greatest strengths, so you can use them to face life’s challenges, work toward goals, and feel more fulfilled both personally and professionally.
This investigation into your character will give you vital info to help assess your mind’s core strength. It takes about 10-15 min, but well worth the adventure. You can access the survey here through the VIA Instutite on Character :
The strengths at or near the top of your profile are likely to be those that are most representative of the ‘real you’. These strengths are core to who you are and likely to come naturally to you. They provide keen insight into improving your relationships, buffing up your resilience, strengthening your ability to overcome problems and enhancing your overall well-being.
The questions on the survey are excellent. It is a great little dermis dip into your inner being. I love how it gives you a summary of your strengths in relation to 6 categories or ‘virtues’ such as wisdom, humanity, courage, transcendence, temperance and justice. It was interesting to correlate the strength quality in relationship to its virtue.
The breakdown of strengths allowed me an overview of what I need to expand on to create more balance in my life and areas my inner core needs strengthening. Time to pump up my perseverance muscle!
Now let’s look at how to strengthen our inner core on a physical level.
Our inner core muscles are the most important group of muscles in our body as they allow us to breathe, protect our organs, and hold our bodies upright. The muscles of our inner core are the diaphragm, pelvic floor, lumbar multifidus and transverse abdominis.
So what is the ultimate way to strengthen your inner core? Pilates, of course!
The PIlates Method is a phenomenal way to stretch, strengthen, tone, and align your entire body. It is most famously known for strengthening the core. The Pilates breath, called lateral breathing, is a crucial element to accessing the deep muscles that help stabilize your trunk and pelvis. Adding a focus on the transverse abdominis muscle (think inner corset that wraps 3 dimensionally around your torso) while breathing helps to build strength and stamina in the core. The best thing is you can do it anywhere. Here’s how :
Sitting in a chair with the spine in a tall neutral line with feet hip-distance apart on the ground.
Exercise with Breath Pattern:
Inhale – through your nose , pulling the air down the back of the throat and into the sides of your ribs laterally.
Exhale – Making a ‘sssss’ of ‘sshhhh’ sound with pursed lips feeling your deep corset wrapping 3 dimensionally (front to back and side to side of the torso like the strings on a corset being pulled)
Repeat this same pattern for 10 rounds
Adding Transverse Abdominus (TVA) engagement and control w/ breath. Place your hands on your low belly
Inhale – breathe into the side of your ribs
Exhale – feel your abdominals pull away from your hands
Inhale – keep your low abs engaged (pulled in from hands) and inhale into ribs
Exhale- make a ‘ssss’ sounds as you deepen the abdominal engagement
Inhale – breathe into side of ribs again without letting go of the low abdominal connection
Exhale – repeat the strong ‘sssss’ sound feeling ab drawing towards spine even deeper.
Inhale – relax and let go.
It’s challenging to keep those abs pulled in while inhaling, but this is where the deep core strengthening magic happens. Keep practicing, it will get easier and easier!
Repetitions: 6 full rounds
Try to avoid air filling up in the upper ribs and chest as you breathe in. Instead think about pulling the air down into the bottom and side of your ribs. On the exhale we often round forward when we contract the abdominals, try to avoid this by keeping your spine tall and shoulders back. When engaging the deep inner corset we don’t need a lot of movement, just a strong internal hug of the spine.
Strengthening our inner core allows us to stand strong and supported in our beliefs as we walk through life. We are able to become more flexible in the way we juggle life’s demands and move more gracefully through challenges. When we strengthen the inner core of our being we are able to flourish from energizing posture and an uplifting place where everything is possible. Who doesn’t want to flex that powerful muscle?