Backbeswhc Postvres

erector spinae muscles have two roles instead of one. They still lift the upper half of the body by way of their insertions on the chest, but now they also pull on the ilium and sacrum from above, deepening the lumbar lordosis and rotating the coccyx to the rear for an anterior pelvic tilt. If you have ever had back problems, this exercise will at once make you aware of your vulnerability, so do it only if you remain comfortable from start to finish.

Not surprisingly, the diaphragm contributes importantly to this posture; it acts in perfect cooperation with the erector spinae muscles by lifting both ends of the torso at the same time, thus assisting the backbend both from above and below. As we saw in chapter 2, this happens because the costal portion of the diaphragm lifts the rib cage and because the right and left crura lift the relaxed hips.

the cobra with reverse breathing

For an even more difficult concentration exercise, lie prone with your hands alongside your chest in the standard position, and come in and out of the cobra posture while reversing the natural coordination of diaphragmatic inhalations with the concentric shortening of the back muscles. Do this as follows: First, keep the chin on the floor while inhaling. Then exhale whde tightening the hips and thighs (which holds them against the floor), and at the same time raise the head and shoulders. Next, inhale and relax the hips completely (which causes the hips to rise) as you lower the head and shoulders. Putting it differently: raise the head and chest during exhalation, and lower them during inhalation; tighten the hips and keep them down during exhalation, and relax them and permit them to rise freely during inhalation. This is disorienting until you master it. The exercise will work best if you take about one breath every four seconds.

After several exhalations up and inhalations down, try breathing more slowly. Relax completely during a deep but leisurely inhalation, and allow the crus of the diaphragm to deepen the lumbar lordosis from below. As exhalation begins, tighten the gluteals so the back muscles can lilt the upper part of the body concentrically from a strong base without any help from the diaphragm. Then, during the next inhalation the chest will drop slowly to the floor, and the diaphragm will again lift the lower spine and hips as the back muscles and lower extremities relax. This is a difficult ejtercise, but after you have mastered it, along with the other variations of lhe cobra, you will have experienced all the possible combinations of breathing in relation to lifting up and down in the cobra. This posture helps place all the more natural possibilities in perspective. And apart from 'ts value as a training tool, once you have succeeded in learning to do the sequence smoothly and rhythmically, the exercise is very soothing.

2yo ANATOMY OF HATHA I <X.A

the supported intermediate cobra

Here is a good way to prepare for the advanced cobra. Lying prone with (1 chin on the floor, stretch the hands overhead with the arms and forearr parallel and the palms down. Keeping the elbows extended and the het and big toes together, lift the head as high as possible, and pull one hai 1 and then the other back toward the head in small increments. This will 1 i the upper half of the body. The back is passive; it is not doing the work f lifting you. One arm braces while the other pushes the body up, inch v inch. When you are up, find a relatively relaxed position with your weig t resting on a combination of the hands, the lower border of the rib cage, ai d the pelvis. Or you can suspend the weight of your chest and abdonv n between the hands and pelvis if that feels comfortable (fig. 5.10). Keepi g the elbows extended is a feature of this posture alone. We'll dispense wi h doing that when we come to the full expression of the advanced cobra.

Most beginners make two mistakes in this exercise. One is to hang p; s-sively between their arms. Don't do that. Lift the chest and pull the scapu ie down and laterally. With experience, you can find a position in which you ; e keeping the pelvis, or possibly the pelvis and the rib cage in combinatit i, against the floor without hanging passively. The other common error is to 't your attention stray from the forearm extensors, which permits the elbows o become slightly flexed.

Everyone will have a different limit to how far they can lift up and at t ie same time keep the pelvis on the floor. It will depend, obviously, on h w much passive extension their lumbar spines can accommodate. Some \ 11 end up with their shoulders lifted up off the floor only a few inches; othi rs may have enough flexibility to face the ceiling (fig. 5.11). If you are infiexil e, notice that you feel vulnerable with the back muscles relaxed. Find a posil n

Figure 5.10. Supported intermediate cobra. In this pnse the hands are pulled back incrementally (always keeping the elbows extended) until the pelvis is almost lifted off the floor. The head is pulled backward and the scapulae are pulled down and laterally (see chapter 8 for details of scapular movements), being careful not to hang the chest passively between the shoulders.

Figure 5.10. Supported intermediate cobra. In this pnse the hands are pulled back incrementally (always keeping the elbows extended) until the pelvis is almost lifted off the floor. The head is pulled backward and the scapulae are pulled down and laterally (see chapter 8 for details of scapular movements), being careful not to hang the chest passively between the shoulders.

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Easing Your Stress With Yoga

Easing Your Stress With Yoga

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