In accordance to the previous post, a great exercise to combine core work and breathing technique is The Hundred. This exercise is usually introduced at the beginning of a workout to help warm the body up as it really engages the abdominals and uses the breath to pump the oxygenated blood around the body, ready for the rest of the session!
The Hundred builds core strength, stamina, and coordination. It requires that you coordinate your breath with the pulsing movement of the arms (inhale 5 counts, exhale 5 counts x 10 = 100) while engaging your core and extending your legs away from your body. It is an exercise that is perfected with practice as there are various modifications depending on your abilities, such as keeping the head down or lifted, or legs at tale top position or extended to a low diagonal. Beware, this ‘warm up’ exercise will never get easy!
Starting Body Position: Supine (arms are always long and gaze always in to abdominals)
- Beginner: Knees are directly above hips, legs are at a 90 degree angle hip width apart and parallel (“table top”).
- Intermediate: Legs are long up towards the ceiling at 90 degrees and glued together.
- Advanced: Legs extended at 45 degrees (eyes and toes on same level)
- Pump the arms firmly from the shoulders up and down, keeping them straight and fingers long just above hip bones.
- Inhale for five pumps of the arms
- Exhale for five pumps of the arms
- Warm up
- Strengthens powerhouse muscles
- Shoulder Disassociation; conditions posterior shoulder musculature
- Pelvic-lumbar stability
- Strengthens neck flexors
- Chin jutting or neck strain
- Shoulder elevation or protraction
- Hyperlordosis of lumbar spine for intermediate and advanced levels
- Flapping from the wrists or elbows vs pumping from the shoulder joint
- Lack of core strength/control: No height from the upper trunk or head; movement from head and trunk
- “As you exhale, pull your navel through to your spine.”
- “Top of your head toward the ceiling; gaze in towards your abdominals (bellybutton)”
- “Imagine you are slapping your arms and hands into water.”
- “Use your powerhouse to squeeze every atom of carbon dioxide from your lungs!”