FITNESS FOCUS: Integrating the Core Yesterday’s post talked about how the muscles of the inner thigh integrate the movements of the body. This got me to thinking about the overall importance of strengthening the core in the first place. Sure, we want to be strong and “look” good, but the best reason to work the core is because it is useful in our daily lives to protect and support our bodies as we move through our daily routines. We practice the Pilates movements in order to learn focus and control of our muscles and to train the muscles to activate when needed. It is important to integrate the Pilates principles of awareness and breathing in order to focus and engage the muscles.
Here are some simple ways to integrate your CORE during your daily routine:
1. In the car: Practice your alignment and breathing while sitting at those pesky red lights! Sit up tall on your sit bones, press your shoulders back and down, and pull your navel to spine so that you are not arching off the seatback. Lift through the crown of the head. Holding and breathing in this position when sitting in the car is an excellent way to become aware of and improve your posture.
2. In the Laundry Room: As you are bending and rotating to put clothes in the washer, dryer, or hamper, imagine that you are doing a Spine Twist or Criss Cross movement from Pilates. Inhale to prepare, then use your exhale to engage your obliques as you twist and lift. Engaging the core to use the obliques and abdominals supports your back to avoid strain.
3. In the Kitchen: Ok, so its meal time! When performing those tedious tasks like chopping veggies or stirring things in a pot, pay attention to your stance. Place feet hip width apart, level out your hips and pelvis, pull your navel to spine to get that “neutral spine” position, press the shoulders back and down(as much as possible- you just want to avoid hunching over the stove or cutting board), and lengthen through the crown of the head. Becoming aware of our alignment and practicing concentration as we engage the core with the breath, trains our bodies to stay in proper alignment more easily.
FAITH FOCUS: Integrating the CORE. Although Bible Study, scripture memorization, and prayer are all part of a good “quiet time” practice, learning to integrate the principles we learn during that time is key to keeping us in God’s protection and support as we move through our lives according to His will. How do we take what we learn in church on Sundays or in our personal devotion times and integrate it into our daily lives?
Here are some suggestions:
1. In the car: So while we practice our good spinal alignment at red lights and in traffic jams, we can also practice scripture memorization. Choose one verse each week and write it on a note card. Place it somewhere easy to see in your car (or at least easy to get to). As you sit in alignment, begin reciting the verse until traffic moves again. If that feels like too much, you can also practice breath prayers. Choose ahead of time a short, simple phrase. I often use one I read about in a book, “Lord, Jesus Christ, Have mercy on me.” Inhale as you think the first part (Lord, Jesus Christ) exhale as you think about the second part (have mercy on me. Focusing on the breath will not only help you stay in your spinal alignment, it will help you align your thoughts on the Good Things of God’s Word.
2. In the Laundry Room: I have to admit, I stole this one from a friend. Once when speaking of the boredom and “mindlessness” of folding laundry etc. a friend suggested a little trick. As you fold clothing for a particular person, say a prayer for them, ask God to reveal ways to serve them even more, thank God that you are “able” to fold the laundry for them. Concentration on the “movements” of being a servant reminds us to be thankful for the Ultimate Servant, Jesus Christ.
3. In the Kitchen: Most of the time we pray to thank God for our meals, but we can engage or CORE in Christ much more deeply. Try this: If you eat meals with family or roommates, use this time to share “Godstops” (yes, I stole this from Beth Moore) which are times during the day when you felt God’s presence. It can be something dramatic like,”I saw someone rescued from a burning building” or something simple like “They were giving away free Chicken sandwiches at Chik-fila today when I really needed something to eat!” Looking for God in all of the small and big places of our days helps us to stay engaged, connected, and focused. It helps us to be aware that He directs our path, we just need to stay aligned to Him.
If you have any “GodStops” you would like to share, please feel free to place a comment on this post!
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.- Philippians 4:9