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Figure 3 -19b. Superfish leglift. The thighs are flexed as much as possible without aegrading the lumbar arch, which is stabilized in the forward position.

Figure 3 -19b. Superfish leglift. The thighs are flexed as much as possible without aegrading the lumbar arch, which is stabilized in the forward position.

168 ANATOMY Of HATHA YOGA

most of the work, it is also a golden opportunity to observe comp x muscular action.

Begin in the supine position. Keep the abdominal muscles relaxed, e d in slow motion develop enough tension in the iliopsoas muscles to prepari o lift your feet. Notice that as tension develops, the lumbar arch increa >s (fig. 3.20a). This is a formidable concentration exercise. What you are d<. ig is diametrically opposed to the standard double leglift, and keeping ie abdominal muscles relaxed as you increase tension in the hip flexors (j s against every natural inclination.

It is important to sense that the iliopsoas muscles are raising the lum ,ir arch maximally before they lift the heels off the floor. Follow the movem nt of the lumbar region to its limit. As soon as that point is reached the ; 'h will be stabilized and the hip flexors will finally begin to lift the thighs g. 3.20b). At that precise moment focus your concentration on not, repeat it, tightening the rectus abdominis muscles. Although this is counter to ^ 11 r natural predilections, any tension in those muscles pulls the lower 1 k toward the floor. As with the superfish leglift, unless you have ig hamstrings and exceptional hip flexibility you will not be able to lift ip very far and at the same time maintain the deep lumbar lordosis. Ne ly everyone will find that their hamstrings start pulling the lower 1 ck toward the floor before they can even get their thighs flexed 450, m ch less 90┬░.

Figure 3.20a. For the first stage of a double leglift with a relaxed abdomen, tension in the iliacus and psoas muscles lifts the lumbar arch forward as the abdominal muscles remain completely relaxed.

Figure 3.20b. Completion of slow leglift with relaxed abdomen. Its key featun is keeping the lumbar arch stabilized in the forward position before and while t e feet are lifted slightly off the floor.

i ABIXhiVlWOPEL 17C EXKNCISFS l6y a ┬╗advanced breathing exercise

[n a second variation of the leglift with relaxed abdominal muscles, instead of focusing primarily on exhalation as we do for the fire exercise and ordinary double leglifts, inhale slowly as you develop tension for raising the lumbar region and for starting to lift the feet off the lloor. This facilitates arching the lumbar region forward. Then to continue the leglift, exhale as you flex the thighs to 90┬░ while your lower back is being pulled down against the floor by the hamstrings and abdominal muscles. Breathe to suit yourself while resting at 90' of hip flexion. Then brace yourself and exhale while lowering the feet back to a few inches away from the floor. Next, inhale as you cautiously relax the abdominal muscles, which allows the lumbar arch to become re-established. Then lower the feet the rest of the way, exhale and rest with your feet on the floor, and inhale again to begin a new lifting cycle.

This method of breathing helps you coordinate the challenging musculoskeletal requirements of the exercise. When you start the sequence, the thighs are the fixed origins for the iliopsoas muscles, and the lumbar region and pelvis serve as the insertions. Then, as soon as the lumbar region is lifted to its maximum, the origins and insertions reverse: the lumbar region and pelvis serve as origins and the thighs become the insertions. Coordinating the breath with all of this while you are watching the activity of the rectus abdominis muscles and the hamstrings, and at the same time keeping in mind everything else that is going on, will make you aware of the architect ure of the abdominopelvic region more than any other exercise.

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