One reason I was excited to join Jackson Kayak was to have the opportunity to share a few yoga stretches and core exercises that help to keep me healthy, strong and on the water through the JK blog.
For a little bit of background on me- I fell in love with kayaking in 2005, and have spent literally thousands of days in a boat since. Needless to say, sitting in a boat for hours on end- whether it is daily, once a week or a few times a year- can wreck havoc on your body- hips, shoulders, back, neck… I’m sure any paddler can admit to having felt sore in any of these areas.
I have long been interested in the body and alternative health and in 2009 I became a certified yoga instructor through the Kripalu center. <>
For my first post I decided to share a short and simple core routine that I call “six minute abs.” It is a great series of exercises to tack on to the end of a run or other workout, or to do on its own- though I recommend getting some blood pumping and warming up first. This is a World Class Academy morning workout favorite- hope you enjoy it!
Anita’s Six Minute Ab Series. “Que Sexy.”
This series consists of four different moves linked together, all of which are Pilates inspired. It is designed to target and strengthen your lower abdominal muscles as well as your deeper, stabilizing muscles (the transverse abdominous) that lie below your “six pack” surface muscles. It also helps strengthen the obliques and works on torso rotation- crucial for kayaking.
Remember to take your time, GO SLOW and control your movements for maximum impact and results. Each of these moves should have you isolating and stabilizing from your core- I promise you will feel the burn!
Begin by lying flat on your back, knees bent and feet on the floor.
The most important thing is to make sure that your lower back MAINTAINS contact with the ground throughout this workout. This will help target your ab muscles- and also protect your lower back from injury.
To make sure your lower back is flush with the ground, try coughing once. Notice how this presses your lower spine into the earth. This is the position you want to maintain!
Once you have found this position, lift your feet off the ground and bring them so that your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Now you are ready for Move #1, the Pilates 100.
With your back flat on the floor, legs in the air, knees bent at 90 degrees, slowly curl your neck and shoulders off the ground so that you are looking at your belly button. Contract your stomach muscles so that your belly button draws back towards your spine. Extend your arms alongside your body and begin to pump them up and down, 100 times. Remember to keep your lower back flush with the ground, and arms straight. For more of a challenge, you can try to extend your legs out away from your body, or lower them towards the ground.
After completing your 100’s, hug your knees to your chest, and let you head roll from side to side to release any tension in your neck and shoulders. Then get ready for…..
Move # 2 : The Single Leg Extension.
Stay flat on your back, and once again bring your legs up, knees bent at 90 degrees so that your calves are parallel with the ground. Contract your abs, drawing your belly button down to meet your spine. Lift your head and shoulders up off the mat. Eyes are towards your belly button. Hands can be behind your head. Exhale, Extend and slowly lower one leg, keeping your calf parallel to the ground. Inhale, lift your leg and draw in. Repeat on the opposite side.
Try for 8 each leg- or 16 total. I usually do a count of 4 as I lower, and another count of four as return to the start position to get ready for…
Move #3: The Double Leg Extension
Maintain the same starting position as Moves one and two. Flat on your back, knees lifted and bent to 90 degrees, head and neck curled up, lower back pressing into the ground.
This time, Inhale and extend both legs and arms away from your body at the same time. Exhale, legs draw in, arms hug your knees. Repeat 16 times.
Don’t be afraid to let your head drop after to release any tension in your neck and shoulders before you attempt the last move!
Move # 4: Bicycle Series.
Re-find the same start position, Flat on your back, knees lifted at 90, head and neck and shoulders lifted:
Inhale, Exhale and rotate your torso, bringing your right elbow to touch the outside of your left knee as you extend your right leg away from your body.
Hold for 1 breath. Inhale back to center. Exhale, repeat on the opposite side.
Do Six slow (3 each side with a 1-3 second hold), Six fast (touch, touch, touch, as if you were pedaling your legs) and finish with Six more SLOW.
That’s it! If you want to, finish off with a mini stretch out, let your knees drop to one side, and then the other.
Hope you crushed it and see you on the water!