Contracting the abdominal muscles compresses the abdominal organs and provides additional support to the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine. This mechanism comes into play when we lift a heavy object and "valsalva". This concept can be applied during yoga postures. Only light contraction is necessary to benefit from this action.
Light contraction of the abdominals in back bends also opposes hyperextension of the lumbar spine and tones the abdominals (through eccentric contraction). Contracting the abdominals in this way activates udyana bandha (in the region of the solar plexus), illuminating the third chakra.
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