Strengthen Your Core With a Yoga Ball

yoga ball

A yoga ball is also known as an exercise ball, stability ball or physio ball. These soft inflatable props are used to provide core strengthening and balance challenge for a variety of yoga poses.

Get in plank position with the ball below your shins, then bend your knees to roll the ball up towards your chest. Repeat this move for 10 reps.

Back Extensions

Back extensions are an important exercise for strengthening the erector spinae muscles of your lower back. This is important to help combat back problems such as slouching and poor posture. When doing this exercise, be careful not to over-stretch the back which can cause injury. A good way to avoid this is to have a wall behind you for support when first learning the exercise.

To do this pose, lie prone on the stability ball with your stomach and hips on it and your legs extended straight out behind you. Keep the abs tight and reach your arms down alongside your body.

Upward Facing Dog

A common pose, upward facing dog is a backbend that requires the support of your chest and upper thighs. Using the ball can help you avoid overarching your back, which can lead to injuries in your feet, ankles, hips, lower back and shoulders.

A yoga exercise ball should be professional-grade, made of durable PVC, have a slightly textured surface and be able to hold your body weight without losing air. It should also be anti-burst to prevent a dangerous puncture.

Choose a yoga ball size proportional to your height so that it is comfortable while you sit on it with your thighs at a 90 degree angle and your feet flat on the floor.

Cobra Pose

Cobra (bhujangasana) is a backbend that stretches and strengthens the spine, chest, shoulders, and abdomen. It is also beneficial for regulating digestion and strengthening the lungs, making it a great pose for people with asthma.

When practicing this pose, it’s important to keep the neck long and not push down too hard, which can compress the back and cause pain. To alleviate this discomfort, you can rest your forearms on the ground and bring them beside your ribs to create space.

Those with back or wrist injuries or who are pregnant can also practice cobra by standing and placing their hands against a wall.

Rolling Ball Pose

The curved surface of a yoga ball enhances core and spine flexibility, while challenging balance and posture. These soft, inflatable props are often used in yoga and Pilates to vary movements, support stretches or challenge muscle strength.

Choose a ball that is about the same size as your height when sitting on it to ensure your legs are at a 90 degree angle with feet flat on the ground. Check that the ball is properly inflated and has an anti-burst feature.

This exercise sculpts the obliques, or sides of your abdomen. Position the ball between your chest and back, then roll your upper body toward one side. Repeat on the other side for 15 repetitions.

Bridge Pose

Bridge pose is a classic yoga exercise that challenges the hips and back. It’s a great strength builder and also builds single leg stability, which is important for activities that require strong, stable legs.

Our spines naturally curve, and bridge pose counteracts this by straightening the back. It strengthens the chest, neck and spine, massages the abdominal organs and stimulates the endocrine system.

To increase the challenge, splay your feet hip-distance apart and squeeze the glutes as you lift into bridge pose. To alleviate pressure on the low back, beginners can use a yoga block placed under the sacrum (the flat part of the lower back). The block can also be used to help maintain proper alignment.

Side Stretch

Adding a yoga ball to your workout can help you strengthen and stretch your body in ways that regular exercise does not. A yoga ball can also add a balance challenge to some exercises.

Start by positioning yourself on the ball with your feet for stability. Position your chest and stomach on the ball and let your torso sort of wrap over it.

This position, which resembles child’s pose, helps to stretch the upper back and reverses the natural rounding of the spine that can occur due to many activities of daily living. Try holding the position for 30 seconds and then alternating sides.