Strengthen Your Core With These Powerful Yoga Moves

Yoga is a mind-body exercise that challenges flexibility, balance and coordination. It also promotes strength and overall health.

Cat-Cow is one of the first poses taught in most classes, and it’s important for beginners because it improves body awareness (proprioception) and strengthens the back. It also warms the shoulders and stretches the hamstrings.

1. Downward Facing Dog

One of the most well-known yoga poses, Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) is equal parts strengthening and stretching. The pose also improves posture and stimulates blood flow to the chest, shoulders, hamstrings, calves and ankles.

This version of the pose reduces the strain on the wrists that beginners may feel in the traditional pose by incorporating a bolster. To do this, come into Tabletop Pose with a bolster placed behind you.

2. Extended Triangle

Extended Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana) is a standing yoga posture that increases balance and stability. It stretches the back muscles, and strengthens thighs and ankles.

This pose also unlocks the hip flexors and shoulders. It activates core muscles that stimulate digestive organs, enhancing metabolism. It also relieves back pain. It can reduce stress and depression. This pose is not suitable for people with back injury or high blood pressure.

3. Warrior II

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana 2) strengthens and stretches the hips, legs and groins. It also activates the back muscles, especially the erector spinae, which helps keep the spine straight and reduce the risk of back pain.

For stability, some students prefer to practice the pose with the front knee pressing a block against a wall. This allows the leg to be fully extended while maintaining stability in the hips and torso.

4. Warrior III

The balancing warrior III pose challenges your balance and strengthens all the small muscles in the feet and ankles. It also builds hip and core stability.

This posture requires you to keep your hips square to the short edge of the mat. This helps prevent the back of one hip becoming higher than the other.

In Warrior III, your arms can be spread wide like wings or lowered with palms together at chest height.

6. Seated Forward Fold

Seated Forward Fold, or Paschimottanasana, improves flexibility in the lower back and hamstrings. It also calms the mind and stimulates digestion.

The key to this pose is lengthening the front of the torso rather than rounding the back. Avoid compressing the spine, which can cause pain in the neck and shoulders. The feet should be hip-width apart or more to give the body room for folding.

7. Warrior III Side Stretch

Warrior III is a more advanced balancing pose that challenges the muscles in the legs and feet, says Berger. It strengthens your core and improves stability and balance to prevent falls.

To perform the pose, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Inhale as you lift the back leg, bringing your torso and leg parallel to the floor. Gaze at a fixed point to maintain your focus.

8. Half Moon

The half moon, a shape associated with fertility and women’s reproductive cycles, is the attribute of the goddess Luna. It is also associated with ebb and tide, and the changing seasons and feminine menstrual cycle. Half moon pose is an asymmetrical strength builder that targets several aspects of the trunk in unique ways. It’s a good multiplanar exercise for core and hips.

9. Half Moon Twist

Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana (PAHR-ee-vrtah ardha-chahndra-SAHN-uh): This standing balance pose strengthens the legs and twists the torso. It helps detoxify the abdominal organs and improves concentration, balance and stability.

It also stretches and strengthens the back, quadriceps, hamstring and obliques muscles, shoulders and neck. It increases body confidence and courage and encourages a strong mind-body connection. It is a great balance pose for beginners and teens.

10. Child’s Pose

Often paired with a forward fold or twist, child’s pose strengthens the back and inner thighs. It also passively stretches the quads and helps alleviate back, shoulder and neck pain and fatigue.

Practicing this restful pose regularly allows the practitioner to become aware of her/his breath’s natural rhythm. This teaches slow, long breathing that decreases the heart rate and calms the mind.