When there is pain or discomfort in your back, when you stray mentally or emotionally in your yoga practice, it is a perfect time to come back to your center – literally. Coming back to center in your practice both metaphorically and physically can help us find stability on and off our mat. When we move from our core, we are more connected and stable and we know that no matter what is happening around us, we are okay.
Although all the abdominal muscles work together to help us find stability, the Transverse Abdominis (TrA) is the key to supporting our lower back and center. The engagement we are looking for in the TrA is not aggressive, egotistical or macho in nature (i.e. sucking the stomach in); it is more of a gentle, child-like engagement allowing for the diaphragm to find its full expression of movement.
Try this experiment: stand or sit tall, willfully draw your navel in and take a deep breath. Where do you feel the energy, how full is your breath, what feels stuck? Let your breath go. Notice the sensation created in your body. Now, stand or sit tall, take a few easy breaths watching your belly rise and fall. The next time you exhale, gently “pull” your hip bones towards one another. When you are ready to inhale, soften, fill up. As you exhale, again draw your hipbones towards one another. How does the energy you feel differ from one exercise to the other?
Just like we move in and out of our practice and our emotions, we can use the breath and movement of the Transverse Abdominis to connect with our center and keep us feeling safe and secure.
May we all be happy