Building core strength is essential for maintaining good posture, preventing injury, and moving with grace and ease. Without a strong core, the body becomes dependent on the limbs, causing overcompensation and misalignment. By strengthening the muscles of your abdomen, torso, and lower- to mid-back, you also strengthen your spine and abdominal organs. There’s a saying in yoga and Pilates: You’re as young as your spine is flexible. Well, you’re also as young as your core is strong!
One way to keep your spine flexible AND your core strong is to practice a move called Rolling Like a Ball.
Rolling Like a Ball massages the spine and builds control. It helps you to learn how to move from your core outward, which makes everyday movement and grace just a bit easier. By keeping your spine in a C-curve throughout the move, you will strengthen your abdominal muscles. You will also improve your balance and concentration.
It can take some time to practice this exercise with precision and ease. Be patient. If you have a tight lower back, be sure to practice a modified version until your flexibility has increased. Never force the movement; only go as far as your body will allow. However, it’s important to practice this move regularly for the most benefits; once or twice a day. By creating a rhythmic flow, you will eventually find this move to be relaxing and fun!
Stuff to Know:
- Practice this move on a thickly padded or carpeted surface.
- If your back is stiffer, hold onto your thighs instead of your ankles.
- Keep your eyes focused on your navel throughout the move.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed throughout the move.
- Synchronize your breath with your movement.
- Yoga and Pilates should be used in conjunction with, not as a replacement for, standard medical and therapeutic procedures. If you have any medical or health concerns, please consult a medical professional before practicing.
- Avoid practicing this pose if you have a back injury, degenerative disk disease, or a recent or chronic injury to your hips or knees.
- Keep your breath smooth and even. Do not hold your breath.
- Be extraordinarily gentle!
- If you feel any sharp, pinching, or jabbing pain anywhere in your body during the move, stop and come out of it slowly. Never force the movement.
How to Practice Rolling Like a Ball:
- Begin seated at the top of your mat. Bend your knees in toward your chest and hold onto your ankles. Extend your elbows and press your heels together. If you can’t clasp your ankles, hold onto your shins and bend your elbows slightly.
- Pull your navel toward your spine, strongly engaging your abdominal muscles.
- Spread your knees slightly, then lift your feet off the mat to balance on your tailbone.
- Tuck your chin slightly and gaze at your navel. Round your spine into the shape of a “C”.
- Breathe in and rock backward onto your spine, while maintaining the C-curve of your upper body. Sink your belly in deeply as you roll back and keep your head slightly lifted off the floor. Lift your hips high and point your toes toward the ceiling.
- Exhale as you rock forward to the starting position, again keeping your spine rounded and your chin tucked. Balance on your tailbone when you come up; don’t rest your feet on the mat.
- Repeat up to 10 times.
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Questions for readers:
Do you practice Pilates?
Do you ever roll on your spine?