Down to the Core - Narrower Hips
Located at the literal center of the body, the core (and specifically the TVA) is considered the source of energy, balance and well being in the body. Building grit and finding inner lightness is all about a strong, supply center.
In the first of our three part series on training the core we focus on the Transverse Abdominus (TVA).
In my 3rd trimester with baby 4 so I've left it to others to demonstrate these moves through the links embedded. I'm not sure you could see the work in the core otherwise :)
Fire in the Belly
The (TVA) is the deepest, most powerful and arguably the hardest muscle to access properly. It connects the lower ribs to the illica cress. A strong TVA is what will give you a flat lower belly, slimmer hips (from front to back) and it also aids in good digestion. For a good idea of how to connect to your lower transverse abdominis, visualize a line between your two upper hip bones and try to gently squeeze these frontal hip bones together. It is a more subtle feeling than many people imagine. To properly access your lower core and TVA we love approaching a few traditional yoga asana using a block. Here are our top three:
Planks. Even if you can easily hold a traditional plank, start by squeezing a block between your legs to mentally reconnect to the subtle feel of this area. Squeezing a block will alight your adductor (inner thigh) muscles which are directly attached to your lower belly muscles- the connection is not as obvious in a traditional with your plank. Hold center plank 30sec then roll to each side to hold an additional 30sec. For bonus points, stop through middle plank on each side. Once you’ve felt the difference moving through all three versions of plank with a block, you can remove the block. The lower TVA will not be as easy to feel so remember to squeeze your inner thighs together and focus on the subtle powerful squeeze of your lower belly
- Pro Tip
- One of our favorite online yoga teachers Jason Crandell wrote this article on connecting more deeply to your core using blocks for Yoga Journal
Bridge (or Wheel) Pose. A foundational pose in any yoga practice, bridge is a powerful way to access the front line of your body. Again, begin in bridge with a block between your legs. Squeeze the block to lift your hips off the floor while spreading your collar bones and wrapping your triceps down and underneath you. Using a block between your legs will take the focus off overusing your glutes. The work and focus is again pulling your frontal hip bones together. Here is a good visual for the pose
- keep your upper ribs on the floor in bridge. The bend in your spine is from the lower ribs to the pelvic bones.
- Push into the floor with your triceps. If you feel any tension in your neck you have gone too far. Lower your hips and further widen your collarbones.
Downward Dog. Again begin in down dog with a block squeezed between your upper thighs. Not only should you squeeze your legs together, try to focus on drawing pulling your femur (thigh) bones up into your pelvis by engaging your quads. These two actions will lift your pelvic bones higher without over stretching your hamstrings. If your hamstrings feel overstressed, bend your knees a bit. You will still feel the work of this pose with slightly bent legs. This Yoga Anatomy academy article has good info improving your mobility in Downward Dog.
- Pro Tips
- visualize expanding your hips and rear up and out (like as big as possible). The key to connecting the strength and flexibility in this pose is feeling the length in the lower back and the TVA area. This refocuses some of the strain out of the hamstrings and into the TVA which is where you want it
- there is danger in over stretching (or worse tearing) the top of the hamstrings in this pose if your calves are also tight. Try to focus on the middle (the 'belly') of the hamstring when feeling the stretch. You want to feel a good amount of stretch behind the knees as well so that you are elongating the calves.
Remember: Age and body type have nothing to do with a stomach pooch. If you have one, it just means you’re not using your stomach properly. So, it’s time get planking!
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