|Posted on July 8, 2016 at 10:05 AM|
There is so much HOT YOGA out there these days, love to share what the HOT Yoga Dr. suggests.
TIP: What do you mean when you talk about ‘connections’ in yoga? Is it physical, metaphysical, cosmic?
It’s such a huge metaphor. So, in this email we’re talking of your hot yoga "interconnectedness".
If you’re after even more practical applications of all the poses then I recommend you take a look at:
Hello super yoga peep,
As promised, here's the second last instalment of this 4 part mini-series. There’s a tiny mention here of the last 2 emails. Now, down to business… This third system is the core of your yoga practice and follows on from the last 2 articles about how I recommend you take a systemic approach to Hot Yoga.
One System To Rule Them All! (Hehe)
Making improvements sometimes means you stand back from a ‘pose’ and look at how your body pieces movement and function together. If I can help you with one thing it is to find practical ways to think of your body in ‘systems’. You get to remove risk AND get better focus and become more present in your body and practice. A real win/win, wouldn’t you say?
The systems we already covered (last 2 newsletters) are:
1.Neck, shoulders and arms
2.Legs, knees and feet
Here’s the crucial link: You tie those systems together with the engagement of your muscles in your torso. It’s a real physical link! And I am going to show you some great examples of how they interconnect as you read on.
Just before we move on, these 3 big systems are simply examples that I chose for you to focus on - but there are many more which we explore in The Hot Yoga MasterClass.
What is core strength and why is it so vitally important?
Actually let's not think of it as core strength but as your core system. Because, broadly speaking it is a system of abdominal support for your spine!
For want of a better term, you have a floating sac of organs in your abdominal cavity which literally hangs off the inside surface of your back.
Surrounding this bag of goodies are some muscle layers.
The organs are protected around the back side by your back itself (by spine bones, scapulae and ribs). While at the front it's expandable and pliable so that you can do 'regular' things like eating, overeating(!), process your food, have babies and deliver them.
You need your core muscles to do just about anything:
* Walk effectively;
* Perform exercise;
* Lean; and
* Just about everything else … to your best ability.
The better your core system functions, the better you can do all the above. Of course you can probably do ALL those things above to a reasonable extent so it is very hard to even see the need to improve something when it’s not clear it needs improving!!!
Having great abs DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE A STRONG CORE.
You heard me! Yep, that strong looking, buff-looking yogi next to you (or staring back at you from the mirror) may have a 6-pack, be toned and fit but have POOR CORE STRENGTH. It’s hard to believe.
[Aside: I should ask you, do you think that you get a strong core by sucking in your stomach? (read on for the answer, because every Bikram class I have ever been a student in, has always told me to do this.)]
On the one hand many people let their abdominal muscles go. They have no abdominal tone, they are prone to back aches and abdominal conditions.
At the other end of that continuum are people who have well-toned muscular systems that support the spine in ALL their activities, from walking, yoga, lifting, bending and so on.
What's the middle ground?
Well one group of people LOOK, for all intents and purposes, as if they are healthy and toned and fit. They have strong abs. They work on their 6-pack. Their rectus abdominis or RA. They may even be the yogi next to you in class. But that’s just a perception that hides a different truth.
What makes up your Core Strength?
Core strength is often touted by fitness professionals and even some yoga teachers as abdominal strength.
This is a huge - and possibly risky - simplification.
It's a common misconception to think that because you have a 6-pack or strong abs that you have good abdominal support for your spine.
WARNING: This next section does contain the technical names for some muscle groups! However, it WILL help you really understand how to pay attention to some *very* important parts of your body ...
In broad brushstrokes we have the rectus abdominis muscles (the washboard muscles or RA) and the transverse abdominis (which we can refer to from now on as TA) and the external obliques.
While it's nice to have that external tone (of your RA or rectus abdominis that comes from crunches and sit-ups) the tone that REALLY matters and has a HUGE impact on your health, vitality, ability to breathe and keep a good posture (even your yoga postures) is that of your TA or Transverse Abdominis and the way all 3 muscles work together to form a complex brace.
So washboards and protective strength are mismatched if you don't have the underlying tone in your TA and your obliques.
What's worse, ab training (RA) to get a 6-pack can actually mean a LOSS OF STRENGTH in the exact area that you need it.
In fact an over-focus on abdominal muscle training (of RA) can be the cause of back pain.
We've all heard the phrase to 'suck in the stomach'. What that does is work your RA. This MAY but does NOT guarantee the engagement of your TA.
It only works for people who know HOW to do it.
But for those who don't - for example:
>> If you have had an operation
>> If you gave birth
>> If you sit a lot
>> If you slouch in your chair
>> If you are a chronic desk user who crosses your legs,
>> Or if you lean back into your chair
>> If you struggle in some of your yoga poses! ... then
... if you are keen on creating that tone in your abs, you could actually be contributing to a WORSENING of your problem if you only ‘suck in your stomach’.
This happens because you are overtraining the WRONG MUSCLES and causing a weakness in your TA. That's definitely an unintended consequence that has incredibly far-reaching results.
How do you discover or re-discover your core?
Well, if you know how to pick up a box or a child correctly then you know you'll be keeping your back straight and bending your legs and keeping a good center of gravity.
When you do this you will stack the cards in your favour to create effective hydraulic pressure in the abdomen which will protect your back.
This is because the sac of organs is made up of about 90% of water. Do you want that sac of water slopping out of control all over the place? No way!
Your core muscles work together to brace the liquid bag firmly against your spine, helping protect it.
As you can see this is a complex subject to tackle in one email. I just can't stand to short change you!
So rather than making it any longer I'll leave you to ponder whether you think you have good core strength. Next issue I'll give you some practical and SIMPLE ways to learn how to engage your core.
I'll also tie this entire series together for better understanding!
PS. Read the latest Customer Reviews for the Hot Yoga MasterClass here:
You'll get some idea how other people are getting even more of that wonderful feeling you get when you practice this yoga!