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?
TWISTS & FOLDS
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- Strengthen core muscles of rotation and side bends
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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?
WATCH THE VIDEO
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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“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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