Around your Core in 4 Minutes: A Quick Core Sequence

I want to share one of my favorite core workouts. I use this at the end of yoga practice to integrate the shoulders, core and lower extremities. Let’s get right into it! 

( Figure 1: The “Around Your Core” sequence.)

Forearm Phalakasana (Plank Pose) 

  1. Lie on your abdomen on a yoga mat.

  2. Bend your elbows and place your forearms on the floor next to your chest with your hands about even with your face.

  3. Press your forearms into the floor and activate your legs to lift your body off the floor. Adjust your arm position so that the upper arms are vertical.

  4. Tighten your glutes and abs as you attempt to drag your forearms toward your feet. This is an isometric contraction of the core muscles shown below.

  5. At the same time, co-activate the muscles of your rotator cuff by attempting to “windshield wiper” your forearms in while resisting this action in the opposite direction (Figure 2).

  6. Hold for 10-30 seconds and then come down and rest for 10 seconds.

  7. Click here to learn the key cues to activate your pose, as well as the muscle systems it amplifies.

( Figure 2: Forearm Plank. Attempt to drag your forearms towards your feet)

 Forearm Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose) Figure 3

  1. From Forearm Phalankasana, turn onto your right forearm and the outside of your right foot.

  2. Press the edge of your right foot into the mat and lift your pelvis.

  3. Attempt to drag your forearm toward your foot.

  4. Try this refinement: Begin by stabilizing the shoulders. Do this by attempting to externally rotate your forearm on the mat. At the same time, attempt to internally rotate your forearm on the mat as well. It’s a bit like a windshield wiper that’s fixed in place. This cue “coactivates” the infraspinatus and teres minor (external rotation) and the subscapularis (internal rotation) muscles of your rotator cuff. Feel how this stabilizes your shoulder.

  5. When you’re just beginning to practice this refinement, instead of placing your left leg directly on top of your right leg, you can bend your left knee and place your left foot on the floor in front of your right thigh so that you’re standing on your left foot as well as the outside of your right foot and right forearm. This will stabilize your pose so that you can focus on the work in your shoulders.

  6. Hold for 10-30 seconds then come down and rest for 10 seconds.

(Figure 3: Side Plank. Attempt to drag your forearm toward your foot and your foot toward your forearm)

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) Figure 4

  1. Lie on your back on a nonskid yoga mat with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor.

  2. Place your arms alongside your torso.

  3. Lift your pelvis, low back and upper back off the floor.

  4. Rock side to side onto the tops of your shoulders and then clasp your hands underneath you. Ground your arms.

  5. Engage the muscles that surround your pelvis (including the gluteus maximus and internal rotators) and connect them to your back muscles.

  6. Hold for 10-30 seconds then come down and rest for 10 seconds.

  7. Click here to learn the key cues to activate your pose as well as the progression for contracting the correct individual muscles.


(Figure 4: Bridge Pose. Engage your glutes.)

Added Bonus: engage the muscles on the sides of your lower legs to lift your feet arches. 

(Figure 5:  Engage the muscles on the side of the lower leg to lift the arch)

4) Next roll over to a left Side Forearm Plank Pose. Hold for 10-30 seconds, then come down and rest for 10 seconds.

5) Return to Forearm Plank Pose and repeat the sequence, this time starting with left Side Plank Pose.

Would you like additional yoga practice tips including a core strengthening asana from Ray Long, MD? Read this: Your Glutes and Lats in Bird Dog Pose. 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Bandha 

Dr. Ray LongAuthor Ray Long MD FRCSC is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Bandha Yoga. Ray graduated from The University of Michigan Medical School with post-graduate training at Cornell University, McGill University, The University of Montreal and Florida Orthopedic Institute. He has studied hatha yoga for over twenty years, training extensively with B.K.S. Iyengar and other leading yoga masters.

Chris Macivor3d Graphic Designer / Illustrator Chris Macivor has been involved in the field of digital content creation for well over ten years. He is a graduate of Etobicoke School of the Arts, Sheridan College and Seneca College. Chris considers himself to be equally artistic and technical in nature. As such his work has spanned many genres from film and television to video games and underwater imagery.  

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