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Practical Yoga

Abs Yoga: Core Sequence June 14, 2014
(updated July 28, 2020 for The Yoga Series: Abs at Nawa Saraan Healing Space, Chiang Mai, Thailand)

Abs Yoga: Core Sequence

Location Google Map:
Marichi Yoga House, Gen San City, Philippines
Nawa Saraan Healing Space, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Why Core?
Think of the core as the central hub for nearly all muscular activities that happen throughout the entire body - whether it's sweeping the floor or doing body-English on a mountain bike. The movement either starts with the core or move through it. Thus a strong core makes movement efficient from arms to body, delivering energy where it's needed (and not being sapped along the way) while enhancing balance and stability. Core underpins nearly every activity you do. Having said all that, the core is also one of the most neglected muscle groups in the body.

Weak Core
The core is a load-bearing structure of the body. If that is weak, the load is transfered to other body parts which are not designed to carry such a load. Result? Injuries. One with a weak core usually suffers from back pain - 80% of Americans suffer a debilitating low back pain at some point in their lives, which can be helped by a strong resilient core. From there, the injury cascades into a domino effect which can result in knee pains, etc.

Defeat has a posture - the slouch. Good core develops good posture. Good posture projects confidence and improves your self-image. Our reality is a manifestation of our self-image. Mandate? Develop the core!

Yoga first and foremost
Even though there are many abdomininal exercises here, this is still a yoga practice, first and foremost. This means many things. This means breath is the priority, breath comes first followed by the movement, one breath - one movement. We remain mindful of what we are doing - so we're not thinking about a deadline here or what we want to eat for dinner. Importantly, no matter how challenging the pose gets, we observe that difficulty with a calm and non-reactive mind.

Abs Yoga: Core Sequence
Santiago, Joanne, Nicola and Lu doing pranayama


  1. Child's Pose - spread your knees wide apart and have your big toes lightly touching. Reach forward with your arms, hands shoulder-width apart. When you can't move any further, plant your palms down. Breathe. Slowly transition into Cat and Cow
  2. Cat and Cow - inhale, belly down, tailbone up and neck complying to the curvature of the spine. Sink down and feel the stretch. Exhale and roll the back, shoulder blades moving further away from each other, tailbone tucked-in and neck becoming neutral. Feel the stretch. Repeat while moving the body and hips in different directions to maximize the stretch
  3. Wrist - for arm-balancing later (Crane, L-sit, Lolasana)
  4. Child's Pose - transition back into Child's Pose, spread your feet hip width apart and tuck your toes in. Reach forward with your arms, hands shoulder-width apart. When you can't move any further, plant your palms down and your toes on the mat. Do not move your hands and feet - this is the optimum distance for your Downward Dog
  5. Downward Dog - on Downward Dog, take a few breaths, pedaling the heels alternately, then slowly walk the hands to the feet into a forward bend
  6. Hang - fold the arms into the elbows and just hang there, doing nothing, letting gravity do its work. Move your hips from side to side and see how this amplifies the swaying of the upper body
  7. Twist - right hand to left ankle, other side
  8. Padangustasana - hands to big toe on forward bend
  9. Pada Hastasana - palm under feet on forward bend
  10. clasp hands behind back
  11. Rolling up - release the arms and on one long inhale, vertebrae by vertebrae, roll up into standing, Samasthitihi
  12. knee rotation
  13. hip rotation
  14. quad stretch

II Generating Heat

  1. Surya Namaskar A - 2x
  2. Surya Namaskar B - 2x

III Deep Breathing

  1. Bhastrika Pranayama - deep and full without pause. 30x
  2. Bahya Kumbhaka - on the last exhale, empty the lungs and hold the breath for as long as you can while remaining completely relaxed on Gyana Mudra. You can focus on Sambhavi Mudra. No bandha.
  3. Antara Kumbhaka - on the next inhale, fill the lungs completely and hold for as long as you can while still on Gyana Mudra. Squeeze the anal muscle (Mula Bandha), tuck the tummy (Uddiyana Bandha), visualize the energy (Kundalini Shakti) rising up through the central energy pathway (Sushumna) all the way to the brain stem and tuck the chin towards the chest (Jalandara Bandha)
  4. Repeat the above - 3x or 3 rounds

IV Core Asanas (interspersed with Child's Pose, Vinyasa, Purvottanasana or Pranayama)

Bicycle with Karen followed by Vinyasa

V Pranayama
1 round deep breathing (30X) followed by Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing) for 5 mins, followed by Bahya Kumbhaka (breath-hold on the exhale) on the last outbreath, followed by Antara Kumbhaka (breath-hold on the in-breath) + Maha Bandha Mudra (simultaneous activation of Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha and Jalandhara Bandha) on the inhale.

VI Guided Seated Meditation
Focus was on gratitude emanating from the seat of consciousness - the heart. Gratitude for our health and for being in a beautiful place called Chiang Mai. Gratitude to the Thai people who have allowed us to stay in their midst.

Parting Thoughts
Mega-crunches alone will not develop great-looking abs. They also require diet and cardio workouts. Still, it's not that easy. Even when the abs get developed, unhealthy habits can erode the cuts and deep lines fast - abs is the first thing you lose when you drop the ball. However, once good abs have been achieved, it's relatively easy to bring it back to shape again - you don't have to go through hell again to bring it back.

When I first developed my abs in the Abs Showdown back in May 2002, it took me 3 months of intensive hard work. My officemates called me crazy for the things I did. But in the end, I had a stunning transformation:
Abs: before, after.

--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

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How to Get to Marichi Yoga House

Take a tricycle and ask to be dropped off at Western Union near Iglesia ni Cristo in Purok Malakas. Enter the gate where Western Union is, and go up the 2nd floor. P10 from the main city (or P30 if you wish to have a special trip).

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