In my last post, I mentioned gaining strength practicing Boat Pose (Navasana). Sometimes we associate being strong with external strength. For example, having big muscles or having a nice physique may be an outward sign of strength. But what about inner strength? Being able to endure tough emotional and mental challenges. This type of strength comes from within.
A pose that can remind us of that inner strength is Boat Pose. It's a yoga posture that strengthens your core. This is the trunk of your body that supports the rest of the body. When one has a strong core - strength that is developed from within - all other types of strength are exuded: inner and outer.
Start by sitting on your yoga mat with your knees bent and heels on the ground. Begin to lean back so that you're able to lift your feet off the mat. Keep your knees bent and hold on to your legs.
Flex your feet to keep them engaged. This will keep your legs engaged as well. While holding onto your legs, use that as leverage to lift and extend your spine. Imagine you're sitting in a high-back chair and you want to sit up straight against the back of the chair. In Boat Pose, the body is shaped like the letter "V" except that your knees are bent.
The key to this pose is your breath. As you inhale, continue to extend your spine. As you exhale (and feel free to breathe out through your mouth to release all of your breath), draw your navel toward your spine. Focus on the lowest part of your belly as you exhale. Here, you are engaging and contracting your transverse abdominas muscles. These muscles are part of your abdominal system and are low and deep in your pelvic area. These muscles are rarely engaged, so this pose and way of breathing will help to engage them.
Hold the pose for about 5 breaths, take a break, then do it again. Repeat the pose 4 additional times. Over time, you will gain more strength. Soon, you'll be able to do the pose without holding onto your legs and you may even be able to extend your legs.
When you build strength from the inside out, you begin to feel more confident and able to face challenges of everyday life. And not only will you build inner strength, but having a strong core contributes to building outer strength, as well.