Anatom Of Hatha Yoga

stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, spleen, and kidneys are contaim within the abdominal cavity (figs. 2.9 and 3.14), which is separated from tl chest by the diaphragm, protected posteriorly by the spine and deep bai muscles, and surrounded anteriorly and laterally by the abdominal musck The urinary bladder, the terminal end of the colon, and portions of tl reproductive systems lie in the pelvic cavity (figs. 2.8 and 3.7) and open the external world by way of passages through the pelvic diaphragm at tl base of the pelvic bowl (figs. 2.29a-e, 3.14, and 3.24-26). The pelvic cavity defined above by the upper limits of the bony pelvis and below by the peh diaphragm, but otherwise it is confluent with the abdominal cavity. Thi we refer to them together as the abdominopelvic cavity (fig. 3.14, illustrate 1 on the right).

Most of the internal organs are not fixed in position but can slide arou I by virtue of slippery external surfaces: pleural and pericardial membran s in the chest, and peritonea] membranes in the abdomen and pelvis. With n the thoracic cavity, the pericardial membranes surround the heart a I enclose the pericardial cavity while the pleural membranes surround t e lungs and enclose the pleural cavities (figs. 2.4 and 2.6). Within both I ■

right latissimus dorsi internal intercostals internal abdominal oblique, right sidi external abdominal oblique

Layers Abdomen

external abdominal oblique internal abdominal oblique transversus abdominis (innermost of three layers of abdominal muscles; left side)

Figure 3.13. Internal abdominal oblique and exposed rectus abdominis on this torso's right side, and transversus abdominis and sectioned rectus abdominis muscle on the torso's left side (Sappey).

right latissimus dorsi internal intercostals internal abdominal oblique, right sidi external abdominal oblique paired rectus abdominis muscles external abdominal oblique internal abdominal oblique transversus abdominis (innermost of three layers of abdominal muscles; left side)

Figure 3.13. Internal abdominal oblique and exposed rectus abdominis on this torso's right side, and transversus abdominis and sectioned rectus abdominis muscle on the torso's left side (Sappey).

i ABDOMINOPELVIC EXERCISES 157

abdominal and pelvic cavities, the peritoneal membranes surround the abdominal and pelvic organs and enclose the peritoneal cavity. Like the pleural and pericardial cavities, the peritoneal cavities are potential spaces only, as illustrated by a schematic midsagittal section through this region (fig. ,V4)- These spaces contain only a small amount of fluid which allows the organs to move relative to one another. The most famous trick question in a medical gross anatomy course is: Name all the organs in the pleural, pericardial, and peritoneal cavities. The correct answer is: None.

intra-abdominal and intrathoracic pressure

Lubricating fluids in the peritonea] cavity impart a liquid character to the internal organs in the abdominopelvic cavity and allow that region to act as a hydraulic (having to do with liquid) system. This means that if something presses against the abdominal wall, hydraulic pressure is transmitted throughout the entire region just like squeezing a capped tube of toothpaste at one site will cause the tube to bulge out eveiywhere else. The ascending/ descending coton kidney small intestine rectus abdominis respiratory diaphragm uterus rectum small intestine rectus abdominis respiratory diaphragm kidney uterus rectum

Male Rectum Schmematic

greater omentum male urethra vagina female urethra prostate gland greater omentum male urethra vagina female urethra prostate gland

F'8ore 3.14. Schematic drawings of the peritoneal cavity and a few abdominal and pelvic organs: male on the right, female on the lower left, and gender-neutral cross section on the upper left. White spaces indicate the peritoneal cavity (greatly exaggerated) in all three drawings. The entirety of the "•bdominopelvic cavity (within which reside the abdominopelvic organs and the Peritoneal cavity) is illustrated in the mid-sagittal section on the right (Sappey).

abdominal wall is the soft part of the tube, and the respiratory and pelvic diaphragms seal it at either end. A separate unit, the chest, is bounded h the rib cage and the respiratory diaphragm. The glottis can seal the ai within the chest, with the result that the chest can act as a pneumatic (haviru to do with air) system. Such a system remains at atmospheric pressure anj time the glottis is open, but if you inhale and close the glottis, the syster can be compressed (and is indeed often compressed) by the action of th abdominal muscles and external intercostals.

Even though the thoracic and abdominopelvic regions are anatomicall independent, the former functioning as a pneumatic system and the latti as a hydraulic system, the trunk as a whole operates as a cooperative uni For example, if you bend over from an awkward position to pick up a hea\ object, and if you have to do that with your knees straight, your spine vulnerable to injury from too much stress on the lumbar region. If ye were to try that maneuver from a bent-forward position when you ai -breathing freely—or even worse, if you were to hold your breath after exhalation—the weight of the object would create a frighteningiy efficiet shearing effect on all the intervertebral disks between the chest and tl sacrum. Were it not for our ability to supplement skeletal support with tl hydraulic and pneumatic pressures within the abdominopelvic and thorac cavities, the intervertebral disks in the lumbar region would quickly degenern and rupture. To protect yourself you will have to increase intra-abdomii I pressure, and you can do this with or without the aid of compressed air 1 the chest.

You can protect your spine with respect to how you use your hydrau and pneumatic systems in one of three ways. First, before you lift you c.- 1 inhale, close the glottis, and hold your breath. Then you can tighten yoi r abdomen, pelvic diaphragm, and internal intercostal muscles all at t1 same time so that the pneumatic pressure in the chest comes into equilibriu i with the hydraulic pressure in the abdominopelvic cavity. This allows tl respiratory diaphragm to remain relaxed and increases pressure in tl torso as a whole. That increased pressure then supports the action of tl back muscles in two ways: it creates a taut, reliable unit from which to li t the object, and it produces a lengthening effect on the spine which sprea< the vertebrae apart and eases strain on the intervertebral disks. (It shou 1 be noted that for older people, especially those who might be vulnerable • cardiovascular problems, this is an emergency measure only, because it w result in an immediate increase in blood pressure.)

A second way to protect your back, if you have a strong respirator diaphragm and know how to use it, is to keep the glottis and airway ope as you lift, and at the same time press down with the diaphragm, in witl the abdominal muscles, and up with the pelvic diaphragm. This is a ven i AtHXMUXorhLW EXERCISES I5y different situation from the first one. Here it is the respiratory diaphragm rather than Ihe glottis that seals the top of the tuhe and counters the action of the abdominal muscles and pelvic diaphragm. Just the same, it eases strain on the intervertebral disks in the critical lumbar region. The main difference between the two techniques is that now the thoracic region is not involved because the airway is open and intrathoracic pressure is not increased.

The third way to protect the spine, and one that comes naturally to most of us, is to mix and match the options. Prepare yourself with an inhalation, partially close the glottis, press down with the diaphragm, and coordinate your lifting effort with a heavy grunting sound, which is a signal that the glottis has been partially closed. What happens exactly? You start with an intent to use method number two—increasing intra-abdominal hydraulic pressure alone—but augment that effort by increasing pneumatic pressure in the chest at the precise moment that maximum protection for the back is needed. This is the choice of championship weightlifters, who continue to breathe during the easier portions of the lift, and then emit a mighty grunt to complete it.

In all hatha yoga postures that involve bending forward and then lifting back up in a gravitational field (for practical purposes this means anywhere but in a swimming pool), it is increased intra-abdominal pressure far more than the action of individual muscles that protects and braces the back. If you want to strengthen the abdominopelvic region to the maximum, and if you want this region to link the upper and lower halves of the body in the most effective and efficient manner, you will have to exercise the second option—keeping the glottis open—when you do the exorcises and postures that follow. This means always placing the burden for creating intraabdominal pressure on the respiratory diaphragm, the abdominal muscles, and the pelvic diaphragm. The first option, holding the breath at the glottis, should be used only as an emergency measure for extricating yourself safely from a posture that is beyond your capacity.

abdominopelvic energy

Yoga is concerned first and foremost with the inner life, and the ahdominopelvic exercises are no exception. On the most obvious level yoga Postures strengthen the abdominal region and protect the back. But when y°u do them you also come alive with energy that can be felt from head to toe. Leglifts, sit-ups, the sitting boat postures, and the peacock all create these effects through manipulating the limbs and torso in a gravitational '"'eld while you are using the abdominal region as a fulcrum for your efforts. And the harder you work the more energizing the exercise.

IfiO ANATOMY Oh' HA tHA UK,A

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  • Andrew
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