Walls, walls, walls.
I've been to many a yoga class where the wall is used as a safety in case you fall. Learning how to balance on one leg? Get close to a wall. Want to go upside down? Get close to a wall.
Oh, but the humble wall can be used for so much more!
After my Aqua Kriya Yoga training I began to see the wall in a whole new way. My teacher, Camella Nair, had showed us the importance of having surfaces for the body to stabilize against in order to find total muscular engagement in the environment of water. The bottom of the pool is a great place to start but add in the magic of the pool wall and SHAZAM! My friend, if you think you know your core by just pushing against the earth in plank pose on your mat - well - add in the wall and you may be in for a pleasant surprise.
On the first Monday of the month I get to teach aqua yoga to a pretty strong group in the evening. You'll see in the first photo one of my students giving extended side angle pose a go using the pool wall as "the floor" and the buoyancy of water as a "wall-like" medium to help him find connection to his core. He's got two planes of support and you know what? The more planes of support and places of resistance you give the body, the more engagement you'll discover through the entire core. And core is not just those six-pack muscles, my friend.
Okay, remember how I talked about adding in your friend the wall to your plank pose? Try this. Set up your plank by placing the bottoms of your feet up against the wall. Let your toes be curled; you're going for a sense of the heel of the foot stacked over the ball of the foot. Push your feet (heel and ball) into the wall and push the earth away. Soften your heart a bit more open and adjust your gaze so you sense all sides of the neck long. Feel something different?
If that wasn't interesting enough for you, try side angle pose with the arm extended over the side of the head and fingertips pressing into the wall like you see these students from my yoga class in Richardson doing here. This action allows you to resist dumping your weight down through the front leg and find matched strength and balance through both legs. The pose is more centered around your core - just like you would experience in the pool variation.
Now maybe you thought adding the wall was so-so for plank but if you noticed the line of action through your core that awakened through this you could bring this into an interesting arm balance pose called Eka Pada Koundinyasana II. In this arm balance the muscles through the hips and legs need to be adequately prepared so that one leg can prop up over the same side arm. Bring in those chatturanga arms (elbows bent with arms still alongside and close to the ribcage). Add that foot press into the wall for the other extended leg and HELLO! You're able to organize the pose better by allowing the body to coordinate as a whole (with the core muscles) and not force this balancing act entirely upon the delicate bones through the shoulders and the wrists. These students in Richardson here in this photo found some lift in this pose thanks to good ol' wall.
Core connection through the wall? Yes. Walls, walls, walls.