Transversus Abdominis

Connect to Your Core With This Twist Technique

spinal rotation

CONNECT TO YOUR CORE

Once you are exposed to transformational techniques for your yoga practice, there’s no turning back. In the context of asana, these techniques open you up to a whole new world and perspective as to what is possible on the mat. Techniques like the one Matt offers in today’s video provide an awakening within your body and help you truly connect to your core while exploring twisting postures. Connecting to some of your deeper core muscles may feel elusive, but it is indeed possible. The transversus abdominis (TVA) is at the deepest layer of the core; when active, it can create spinal rotation, and it also stabilizes the spine. How is it possible to transform your experience and more deeply connect to your core?

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UDDIYANA BANDHA AND TRANSVERSUS ABDOMINIS

The transversus abdominis can be activated on both the inhale and the exhale. Activation on an exhalation is called Uddiyana Bandha. Bandha means “lock” or “hold” and serves the body by stabilizing it during your practice. Uddiyana Bandha is the abdominal lock. Drawing the belly in and up is the necessary action to create the lock; this is exactly what engages the TVA. Contracting the transversus abdominis compresses the abdomen, and this is the first step in creating a deeper connection to your core. It’s still important to allow prana to flow! A deliberate mind-muscle connection must be established in order to feel and maintain stability while sustaining the flow of breath. As always, setting a foundation for the nervous system will enable you to direct your brain and body to respond to the action you desire—in this case, it’s spinal rotation. How can you continue to prepare your core for twisting postures?

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TRANSVERSUS ABDOMINIS:  CONNECT TO YOUR CORE WITH THIS TWIST TECHNIQUE

KAPALABHATI PRANAYAMA AND CONNECTING TO YOUR CORE

One of the most relatable cues to begin to understand Kapalabhati Pranayama is to compare it to coughing, which is also an appropriate cue in order to understand TVA activation. This does not mean that you have to cough in order to activate TVA, but it helps to feel how the belly pulls back and that it’s a quick, firm action.

Today’s clip is extracted from Matt’s current immersion, Twists & Folds. At the beginning of the class, Matt guides you through Kapalabhati, which is the practice of “forcefully” breathing in and out in a repetitive manner. The exhale happens via pulling your belly back. The purpose of starting the practice in this way is to begin to wake up and tone the TVA. It’s these more subtle energetic practices that lay the foundation for you to connect to your core. This connection to your core has the potential for you to increase spinal mobility and go deeper into twisting postures.

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TWISTING POSTURES

“The abdominal muscles are the core prime movers in the twisting postures.”

Long, Ray. The Key Muscles of Yoga, Vol. 1 . Bandha Yoga Publications LLC. 2005. Pg.126

Bringing TVA to the forefront of your awareness is important when utilizing the twist technique from today’s video. Connecting to your core, the TVA specifically, also requires an awareness of the erector spinae and quadratus lumborum muscles. These muscles lift the torso and aid in creating an anterior tilt of the pelvis. Without this upright position, it’s impossible to truly access the lifting and pulling back of your belly. This awareness is key to being a full participant when engaging in twisting postures in your yoga practice. You’ll be guiding your body, rather than having your body guide you. For example, if there are vulnerable instabilities in the hips, utilizing the strength in your core muscles will offer a sense of steadiness and safety in any given twisting posture. How is this expressed in Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)?

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TRANSVERSUS ABDOMINIS (TVA) TWIST TECHNIQUE: ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA

A seated twist like Ardha Matsyendrasana is a great way to explore this technique, although it can be applied to multiple twist postures. A seated twist is a great option because it removes the added challenge of balancing in a standing twist posture. This offers more time to explore your breath within TVA activation.

Here are the steps:

  1. Find a tall spine (place blankets under your seat if it is difficult to find more spinal extension)
  2. Place hands at the low back and encourage the top of your pelvis to push forward to find more anterior tilt (low back muscles are active)
  3. Lift the belly in and up and spiral up as you twist
  4. Inhales are for preparation and length, exhales for twisting (spinal rotation)
  5. Your back arm can be placed down for support
  6. Your front arm can gently grab the thigh as you continue to rotate (minimize usage of front arm as much as possible in order to maintain core connection)
  7.  Continue to rotate your belly button
  8. “Wring out a towel”—right belly towards left side of spine creates the transversus rotation

TRANSFORM THE CONNECTION TO YOUR CORE

If you’ve practiced with Matt before, then you know that strengthening muscles on your mat promotes increased mobility. Contacting your TVA means that you are cultivating strength. Connecting to the TVA, the deepest layer of your core, is going to transform how you experience twisting postures. You will find greater mobility while feeling more stable in your body.

Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better,” and this is so very true on the mat. The education you come away with from Matt’s classes helps you to do exactly that. You will know better and in fact do better beyond your expectations.

You can sign up here for Matt’s Twists & Folds immersion.

See you on the mat!

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Article by Trish Curling

Video Extracted From: Twists & Folds

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