Dear Willow: I'm Uncomfortable With Pelvic Exercises
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I started doing Forrest Yoga at YogaOne studio here in Houston on May 31st. In fifteen classes, plus reading Ana's book, the work has made far too great an impact on my life to capture in an email. I am assuming it's not the first time you've heard that about Forrest.
Could you speak a little about the significance of the low belly in the Forrest Yoga practice? There is a lot of attention drawn to it and manipulation of it, and I find it difficult to both focus on it, watch it, and strengthen it.
Congratulations on your turn on to Forrest Yoga. When I was visiting Texas last year, YogaOne had a huge impact on my love for the global community. And yes, the abdominals are par for the course with Forrest Yoga and also slim to none in other disciplines. Students typically find much of their identity in working with the abdominal and core exercises, the same way a native may enter a vision quest. An action can produce results from the depths of the spirit.
Anatomical Focus with Forrest Yoga Abdominals:
In most abdominal exercises rectus abdominis is the primary focus. This will build strength in the superficial flexors of the torso, but leave out the strengthening of integral postural muscles throughout the entire trunk. This can exacerbate an already existing postural and physiological challenge with people who spend much of their day sitting. The trunk is already in a slumped forward lean, caving the chest in toward the diaphragm. This compresses organs downward, adding pressure to the internal postural frame. The belly then protrudes and gravitational pull adds pressure to the sex organs, prostate, and intestines, halting digestion and energetically shutting down access to the pelvic floor. Train all the core muscles and learn to use pelvic floor anatomy and the organs receive support to maintain optimal functionality.
With our abdominal sequencing, we distribute the focus to include:
- Erector spinae
- Transverse abdominus
- Rectus abdominus
- Internal oblique
- External oblique
- Psoas major
- Psoas minor
Become acquainted with the boundaries and attachment sites of the above muscles. This means you touch yourself. Then you will know, truly, where these muscles are on your body. When you do the abdominal exercises, place your hands on your lower belly, just over the ledge of the pubic bone to the attachment site of pyramidalis muscle. Consciously flex this area to curl the pubic bone up toward the navel.
Quite frankly, though, we as a culture are sexually freaked out. There is a paradigm that needs to shift away from the current thought of sexuality as taboo or overly glorified. The lower core muscles attach at the pelvis and pubic bone. Touch them. Get to know where these bones are and discover where your discomfort lies in exploration.
Bringing your attentiveness and fascination to this area will encourage blood flow and oxygenation, igniting creative and sexual fire. This is especially important in periods of stress, sadness, or lethargy. Learn to view aspects of your unexplored self both anatomically and spiritually. Live and breathe these vital areas that created your existence.