Anatomy Of Ha Iiia Yoga

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bring your attention to the lower abdomen and create in that region wh teachers sometimes describe as a forward and downward push. Althoug muscles don't push, and in this case are merely pulled taut, a "push" what the untutored observer sees, and the image seems useful for mar students.

The most common problem with tiying to isolate the rectus muscles that the external abdominal oblique, internal abdominal oblique, ar I transversus abdominis muscles also tend to become recruited. But tl whole effort to pull the rectus muscles forward is meaningless unless yt i keep the rest of the abdominal muscles relaxed. If the nauli madhyai i technique doesn't work, don't struggle, but try it once a day on an em| stomach or whenever you feel adventuresome or energetic.

Another trick is to apply uddiyana bandha when you are in a supi position: press your fingers into the abdominal wall lateral to the reel i abdominis muscles on each side, and then lilt your head up an inch 01 •> off the floor. As you start to make an effort to lift your head, you will f< I the rectus abdominis muscles contract just before the rest of the superfi il muscles. Adjust your effort so that you engage the rectus muscles wl e keeping the others relaxed. If you make too much effort and lift the should 's along with the head, you will engage the abdominal muscles en ma: which defeats the purpose of the exercise. Lift the head up and down o explore this. Mechanical feedback also helps, for which there are th e possibilities. You can give yourself some little punches laterally to rem d your other muscles to stay relaxed, you can squeeze your hands against e rectus muscles from the side as you feel them become engaged, or you n roll the overlying skin up and out to encourage the rectus muscles o contract in isolation.

If all else fails, you may be able to learn how to isolate the rec is muscles by coming into the cat stretch with the deepest possible uddiy; a bandha, and then arching your back up. The rectus abdominis muscles e the prime movers for creating the arched posterior curvature, while at e same time partially straightening out the inverted J. so they wdl >e activated selectively. Then all you have to do is concentrate on keeping ie rest of the abdominal muscles relaxed. Try supporting yourself with e hand so the other hand is free to feel the preferential contraction of ie rectus muscles.

in short order. Here's how. Holding nauli madhyama, place both hands on the thighs just above the knees. Press diagonally in strong lunges first to one side and then the other to activate the individual rectus abdominis muscles. Do this one-two lunge at the rate of about 1-2 times per second. If you need to waggle the hips at the same time, that's fine. It will look silly for a while, but after a month or so of practice you will be able to produce the rolling movement that is characteristic of nauli, and be able to do so without much hip motion or side-to-side lunging. Refining the practice, you can go ten times from right (fig. 3.37b) to left, and ten times from left (fig. 3.37c) to right on one round of holding your breath. You can start practicing for one minute a day and add a minute each week. As with uddiyana bandha, many teachers consider it important to hold the chin lock for this practice. In any case, if you build up to 20 minutes a day you will find out why nauli is valued so highly in hatha yoga.

Figure 3.37c. Nauli left, with contraction of left rectus abdominis muscle superimposed on uddiyana bandha.


If you can learn to superimpose the contraction of the rectus abdomi is muscles onto uddiyana bandha in various positions, you will sooner or lai r be able to do so in a standing position with your hands on your thighs. A 1 if you cultivate this until it is second nature you wdl be able to learn nai i

Figure 3.37b. Nauli right, with contraction of the right rectus abdominis muscle superimposed on uddiyana bandha.

Figure 3.37a. Nauli madhyama, with contraction of both rectus abdominis muscles superimposed on uddiyana bandha.

Figure 3.37c. Nauli left, with contraction of left rectus abdominis muscle superimposed on uddiyana bandha.

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