Stability, Sovereignty, Openness ~ Full yoga Class 5 July 2020 · Mollie McClelland Morris

Stability, Sovereignty, Openness ~ Full yoga Class 5 July 2020

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When we think of abdominal strength, we generally think of either squeezing the abs, or sucking the belly into the spine. We try to "engage the core" without knowing what that means, or how to do it. This class, from the 5th of July, is physically about finding stability and tone in the abdominal muscle wall. Stability without sucking the belly into the spine. It is about pressure and tone, not tightness and gripping. I have this blog post about why sucking in your abs DOESN'T make you stronger.


We generally think about creating support as creating tightness in the system. In this case, we are creating tone, but not stiffness. We are teaching ourselves to breathe into our own firmness, so that we don't get rigid. And that allows the body to move and explore our range, especially of backbends without compromising the spine. It creates an inner sense of tone, that allows the body to upregualte naturally when it is needed to do so.


Of course, this increase in abdominal tone helps to support the spine. It upregulates our deeper, tonic, musculature, leaving the phasic muscles free to move with the breath. This has physical importance, and metaphysical meaning too. In a  symbolic way, it is about finding our integrity and sovereignty in the world. This, so that we can be open and compassionate from an integrated place.

Techniques for creating more support from the abdomen

There are many techniques one can play with to this end. Some people like to play with lifting the arms as you breathe out. On exhalation, the rectus abdominus muscles do shorten, and if you exaggerate that a little you get the feeling of the ribs closing, while the arms reach up. This can prevent over arching the spine. It is different from our normal patterning in yoga, when we usually inhale to lift the arms. But, we also want to be able to differentiate movement of the shoulder/arms from movement of the spine and ribs regardless of when in the breathing cycle we are. We want to be able to take 5 breaths with the arms over head in warrior 1, or stay upside-down in a headstand and still breathe.


So this class is physical, and metaphysical. It involves a balance between integration of the body and expression of the body. It is soft, and strong. Take a moment to feel your sense of yourself as you prepare for this class, and notice what changes after.

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