The abdominal muscles play a big role to stabilize, rotate our trunk and protect the abdominal organs. It has the airbag effect to protect our lumbar spine and prevent the hyperextension of the lumbar spine when we do the backbend in the yoga postures.
The anterior abdominal muscles can be divided in to four groups:
It is a long flat muscle which originates bilaterally from the pubic and pubic crest, inserts on the xyphoid process of the sternum and cartilage of the 5th, 6th and 7th ribs. It is divided into four muscular bodies, separated by the horizontal fibrous bands, resulting into a six pack shape for those who have low body fat.
The main tasks of this muscle is the movement of the trunk, stabilization of the vertebral column and the tension of the abdominal wall. The abdominal press increases the intra-abdominal pressure which occurs during defecation or vomiting. It also support the exhalation by pulling down the thorax through their contraction. Contracting the rectus abdominis brings the trunk forward or ventral flexion, elevation of the pelvis, lowering the thorax. The yoga asana navasana can strengthen the rectus abdominis.
It is the largest and most superficial abdominal muscle which is located on each side of the rectus abdominis. It originates from the front of ribs 5 through 12 and lower section of latissimus dorsi, inserts on lower ribs, linea alba, inguinal ligament and anterior half of the iliac crest. When the external obliques are contracted, the same side of the shoulder will be drawn forward. It is responsible to the twist of the body by combining the contraction of the external obliques with the contraction of the other side internal obliques.
It is located under the external obliques and originates from the lower borders of the lateral 1/3 of inguinal ligament, iliac crest, thoracolumbar fascia and linea alba, inserts on linea alba and ribs 9 through 12. The contraction of the internal obliques brings the opposite side of the shoulder forward, example parivrita trikonasana.
It is the deepest abdominal muscles and originates from the iliac crest, inguinal ligament, thoracolumbar fascia and inner surface of lower six costal cartilage and their ribs 7 to 12, inserts on xyphoid process and linea alba and pubis. The contraction of the transverses abdominis compresses the abdomen and tones the abdominal organs, example santolasana.
The abdominal muscles plays an important role in the stabilizing of the body. The weakness in the abdominal muscles may cause the bad posture and the lower back pain is the most common symptoms especially the seniors. There are some yoga poses can strengthen your abdominal muscles.
1 Navasana (boat pose)
Lie down on the back, feet together and hands by side of hips. Inhale, lift both legs up to 60 degrees. Raise the hands points fingers towards the feet. Exhale, pull in the belly, engage the transverses abdominis and peel the upper body off the floor, leaving the sit bones in contact with the ground.
2 Parivrita trikonasana (revolved triangle pose)
Stand in utthita tadasana. Inhale, bring the right leg to 90 degrees and turn the left foot inwards to 45 degrees. extend the both arms at shoulder level, raise the left arm up and lengthen the spine. Exhale, place the left palm on the outside of the right foot. Twist the mid and upper body and gaze at the extended hand.
3 Dwipada uttanpadasana (double leg raise pose)
Lie down on the mat. Inhale, raise both legs up to 90 degrees slowly. Exhale, release both legs down slowly. There are some variation where any one can hold the legs on 30 degrees, 45 degrees or 60 degrees.
The tightness of the abdominal muscles limits the depth of backbends. The stretching of this muscles can help you to relax and ease the muscles stress and tension.
Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
Lie down on the belly and and bring the hands below the shoulders, palms down, elbows close to the ribs. Inhale, slide the upper body forward and up. Extend the elbows, push the ribs and lower abdomen up, roll your shoulder back. Gaze between the eyebrows.