Anterior Abdominal Muscles

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:

Rectus abdominis

External obliques

Internal obliques

Transverses abdominis

Rectus abdominis

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.

External obliques

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.

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.

Transverses abdominis

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.

My Yoga Journey – YTT

During this 200 hours YTT training, I learnt a lot of knowledge of yoga, such as asanas, sanskrit word, pranayama, meditation, yamas, niyamas, mudra, muscles, bones, lesson plans and so on. Before joining this training, my impression of yoga is only the postures (asanas).

I started my yoga by reading a book and watching the video and I only learnt the aerial yoga for one year. I am not very experienced in practicing asanas so I feel stressful when my progress is quite slow. After the physical practice in the studio, I learnt what is the balance, alignment, technique, caution of wrong posture and adjustment. Knowing the correct alignment, techniques and cautions do help me to prevent the future injury while doing yoga. I am most impressed of my first sirsasana (headstand), pincha mayurasana (armstand), chaturanga dandasana (four limb staff pose), kakasana (crow pose) and parivrita kakasana (side crow pose).

It is quite amazing after learning the anatomy and physiology. For example, when you see a person who has the anterior pelvic tilt, he may suffer in back pain and he can improve his postures and relieve his back pain by strengthening and stretching the muscles.

While I was attending the aerial yoga, we did the meditation and shavasana at the beginning and end of lessons. I was curious that the teacher asked me to close my eyes in a seated position and supine position. I forced myself to close the eyes but I kept thinking what’re the job tasks I need to resolve, what I want to eat for my lunch. Now, I knew why we do the meditation and shavasana and I had my first meditation experience in this training! I felt I have the awareness of my body, it is a gap between fall asleep and conscious and the meditation makes me more peaceful. My tip is gazing between the eyebrows while closing the eyes and focusing on breathing. I need more time to explore and experience what’s the benefit of the meditation for my body, mental and spiritual.

In the Eight Limbs of Yoga, yamas and niyamas are the ethical guidelines for our life’s journey, not only the yoga journey. The daily practice of aligning our thoughts, behaviors, and actions with these personal guidelines can be difficult and challenging. Practicing the yamas and niyamas should be approached slowly over many years.

The awareness of the gunas tells us whether we are genuinely moving forward in life, running in place, or losing our way. Sattva refers to pure, the more sattvic your nature is, the more drawn you are to love, compassion, kindness, and attachment to happiness. We can eat more sattvic foods eg. fresh, nutrients, organically grown and light cooking to increase our vitality, energy and joy. Raja refers to passion, the person who has more desirous and full of attachment. The characterized of raja people is workaholics and restless. They may eat less sour, spicy, bitter foods such as garlic, onions, snacks, heavily spiced, tea, coffee etc. Tamas means darkness, and the person is dullness, inactivity, and they will feel a short-lived happiness, materialism. The tamasic foods are the stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten, impure, overripe or unripe fruits, canned foods, fermented, burned, fried, reheated. Tamas makes us stop and rest (which can be seen as the past), rajas makes us move forward (which can be seen as the future) and sattva makes us clarity and wisdom (which can be seen as the present). We play around these three gunas in our life and we can observe what’s the state are we in, and try to move from rajas and tamas toward sattva.

 

Yoga is not about touching your toes, this is what you learn about yourself on the way down. – Jigar Gor

 

Enjoy your yoga journey 🙂

“Can I do yoga when I am getting old?”

 

By the time when I walk along the road or travel by MRT, I noticed that there are a lot of seniors have a stooped posture known as kyphosis. The most common cause of kyphosis is due to the weakness in the spinal bones that causes them to compress or crack and it may lead to breathing problems, limitation of physical functions, digestive problems and osteoporosis. Aging is the main cause of osteopenia, and it does increase your chances of developing osteoporosis. This bone disease causes fractures, stooped posture, and can lead to severe pain and loss of height. The seniors are also more likely to have the other health concerns such as heart diseases, diabetes, respiratory diseases, falls, arthritis, stroke, depression.

Everyone knows exercise is the best way to stay young and health. How can the seniors begin to exercise if they don’t have the regular exercise habit? I will recommend yoga which is less likely to get injured than running and weight exercise.

Yoga is a joint friendly exercise if you’re doing the proper technique and it combines the strength, balance and flexibility which can bring a lot of benefits to your physical, mental and spiritual. Practicing yoga can increase the muscles tones, the balancing and the flexibility to protect us against falling down. It will also prevent or slow down the process of bone loss by increasing the bone density. Practicing the asanas with pranayama increases the lungs capacity and improves the respiratory system. The back pain can be prevented and treated by strengthen our core muscles. It does help us to strengthen the brain function to keep the mind sharp, and decrease the risk of many diseases e.g. heart diseases, diabetes, blood pressure, headaches.

Yoga means “union” and it is a way to integrate the mind and body together. Yoga move the body stronger, flexible and balance and the seniors will feel capable and stronger when they can maintain a pose in association with the breathing. Hence, the seniors can gain the confidence and independence and makes them happier. Joining a yoga studio let them have more time to meet with friends and new people. In addition, yoga can help to alleviate sleep disturbances and improve the sleeping quality and duration.

Beginning a yoga practice, it’s better to seek a well-trained teacher to guide you a correct technique of the postures. The poor postures may cause a serious injury that you may be unexpected. It’s very important to consult with the doctor or the instructor if you have any diseases, e.g. glaucoma, spinal disc problems, high or low blood pressure, heart diseases. You may start a yoga practice with some beginner asanas such as child pose (balasana), downward facing dog pose (adhomukha shvanasana), plank pose (santolasana), cobra pose (bhujangasana), mountain pose (tadasana).

 

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. – George Bernard Shaw

 

Stay healthy and happy 🙂

Fourth of the Eight Limbs of Yoga – Pranayama

Pranayama is the fourth of the Eight Limbs of  Yoga, which is a practice of breath control in yoga, to purify the nadis (energy channel) and bring the energy to the unused or needed areas. The term is derived from the Sanskrit word, prana means the life force of energy and ayama means expansion.

Principal of pranayama:

• Puraka (inhalation)

• Rechakra (exhalation)

• Kumbhaka (retention)

• Antara Kumbhaka (internal retention)

• Bahya Kumbahka (external retention)

 

 

What’s the benefit of the Pranayama?

Pranayama is the conscious awareness of breath. Everyone knows how to breath even a newborn baby, but when you bring the awareness to the breath, it can brings us a lot of benefit to our body, mental and spiritual.

 

 

1. Increase the lungs capacity

In the pranayama practices, we send the fresh oxygen deeply to the lungs and it can increase the capacity of the lungs. Example, when we are reaching a mountain with high altitudes, we will find it is difficult to breath. A regulate breathing will be helpful in the high altitudes.

 

2. Improve cardiovascular health

The increase in blood circulation and oxygen capacity in the blood improve the cardiovascular health.

 

3. Improve immunity system and digestion

Stress and anxiety may cause the poor immune system and digestive diseases. Pranayama brings more oxygen to the body, helps the mind calm down and provide relief from the anxiety to boost the immune system and reduce those diseases issues.

 

4. Helps in weight loss

During the deeply breathing in pranayama practices, the more oxygen is brought into our body can let the metabolism more actively to burn a higher of calories.

 

5. Good for skin health

A beautiful glowing & radiant skin is every woman’s dream. Stress can make your skin appear dull, tired and worn out. When the stress level reduces and the internal purification systems are working well through Pranayama, you will have a natural glow to the skin by flushing out toxins from the body.

 

7. Heat/cool down the body

You can try to practice Ujjaji Pranayama and Kapalabhathi Pranayama to energize and warm up the body especially during the winter.

Cooling Pranayama has a cooling effect that brings down the body’s inner fire or Pitta Dosha. Sitali Pranayama or Shitkari Pranayama are the good practices to remove the excess heat from your body.

 

8. Concentrate the mind

Sutra 2.53 Dharanasu cha yogyata manasah

Dharanasu – for concentration

cha – and

yogyata – ability, fitness

manasah – mental, spiritual

Through the practice of the pranayama, after the veil is removed, the mind becomes capable to concentrate, which is important in the sixth to eighth of the Eight Limbs of Yoga – dharana, dhyana and samadhi.

 

9. Reduce the negative mind, stress, depression, insomnia and calm down

The most common mental health troubles of the modern people in the city are the depression, sleep disturbances, negative mind and anxiety. Pranayama in addition to meditation play a big role to reduce the mental problems.

 

10. Awaken kundalini

Pranayama is one of the methods to awaken the Kundalini. Kundalini identifies the arising of an energy and consciousness which has been coiled at the base of the spine since birth, and is the source of the life force. The other forms to awaken Kundalini are mantra, kriya, deep relaxation and meditation.

 

11. Connects the body with the mind

If we can control our breathing, we can control our mind. Pranayama helps us to control the mind and increase awareness oneself without distraction from the thoughts that constantly bombard our minds.

 

There are some easy Pranayama practices can be performed by the beginners.

⇒ Ujjayi Pranayama

⇒ Sitali Pranayama

⇒ Kapalabhati Pranayama

⇒ Nadi Shodhan Pranayama

 

Let us try and feel what’s the different before and after the practices!