The desire that people have to work their Core and obtain strong toned abs is amazing. Everyone wants the strength and appearance of a firm and strong midline. There are a million styles of exercise and variations of Core yoga that promise to fulfill the desire. I don’t think one method is any better or worse than the next, unless it is harmful to the low back or strains the neck. (Think pumping motions that don’t actually move from the Core.)
Yogis teach the practice of Uddiyana bandha, accompanied by Mula bandha, to strengthen the Core. The shifting of the tailbone into the body lenghtens the low back and truely engages the low abs in a lifting and strengthening ACTIVE movement upwards, to enhance the yoga practice.
This practice is imperative for inversions. The first thing beginners need to learn in inversions, even sarvangasana, is to hold the Core, or bandhas FIRM.
However it occurred to me this morning as I was practicing Pincha Mayurasana that it is important to invoke the subtle energy, especially manipura chakra. Without it, all the Core work in the world won’t help you in the upside downs. I found I was flopping up against the wall and was not using my bandhas properly. This necessitates a flinging into the inversion, rather than a movement from the Core. I had just done a long Forrest Core sequence too. So what was the problem?
Probably not feeling my own personal power. When the light of our confidence in our own power is diminshed, it does affect practice. Since I have been feeling ahhhh DIMINISHED lately, it showed in my practice. What to do?
Sit down and do a meditation on the chakras and FEEL where you are diminished, strong, weak, or fulfilled. Without the practice of awareness of subtle energies, yoga turns into the gym. The thing is, I have probably have had MANY practices where my heart was heavy, I was to grounded in muladhara, and the third eye is all over the place. But I wasn’t aware of it. I just thought it was enough to barge through the practice as it is, and make up for it tomorrow or the next day.
Will focusing on Manipura all the time make your Core strong or your inversions lighter? Not all the time, but make it a part of your practice. Practice breath of fire as you focus on this chakra. Building awareness and a more complete practice is the eight limbs. It doesn’t happen all at once or every day. It adds a beautiful level to your practice.