Many people start Yoga thinking that it will be an easy way to get in shape. However, if you start a Hatha Yoga program and are completely out of shape you can create low back problems simply because some of your muscles are not ready for the intense core loading. Yoga is a full body experience and your core strength will be taxed. Done properly with correct breathing Yoga can take 2-3 pounds off allowing the patient to feel slimmer. Proper breathing techniques can slim the abdomen because proper breathing can increase the resting volume of the lungs, exercises the diaphragm, and massages the internal organs.
Did you know that he abdomen is cover by a blanket of fat? It is called the greater omentum and it covers the abdomen, internal organs and muscles. It is what people call the belly fat, or love handles. When you breathe properly you force air into the lungs which pushes the diaphragm down and out enlarging the abdomen. This compresses the the internal organs of the intestines against the omentum and internally massages both. Ever wonder why you go for a massage, but no one ever massages the abdomen. The visceral contents of the abdomen are a kind of muscle and so will benefit from the better vascular support proper breathing techniques can bring.
When I was young I was taught the Chinese way of getting by indigestion. I would rub my abdomen, not just the stomach which is in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen, 30 times counterclockwise…pause… then rub 30 times clockwise. This would settle my stomach.
Proper breathing can give the body more oxygen to work with, massage the visceral contents of the abdomen, and slim the greater omentum, not to mention we need breathing just to live so why not do it efficiently. Warning: Please discontinue the exercise if the deep breathing causes sharp pain and do not do this exercise if coughing and sneezing create an inordinate amount of pain and loss of function (please go to see a chiropractor), or if you’ve had abdominal surgery within 6 months.
1) Place your hands on the area of the abdomen just below the navel.
2) Inhale naturally via the nostrils relaxing the abdomen from the lower part of the rib cage. Imagine that the lungs are cylinders orientated vertically. As you fill the imaginary container with air allow the lower part of the cylinder to inflate first. If your chest is heaving up and down you are performing incorrectly.
3) As the bottoms fills up and your tummy feels bloated with air allow the upper portion of the cylinder to inflate.
4) Open up your chest and roll the shoulder blades down to foster a better breathing posture. Often the volume of the lungs is limited by the rib cage and collar bone/sternum. Now let the air volume internally push up against those structures.
5) Hold the breath for up to 10 seconds and slowly exhale through the mouth at a consistent rate forcing the last bits of air out of your lungs.
6) Rest at least 20 seconds before repeating to avoid hyperventilation.
You will find after doing the exercise for some weeks you will begin to naturally adopt this breathing pattern for your involuntary breaths, it just takes time for the body to be retrained. Do not feel afraid that you will acquire a pot belly from doing this exercise. Although the belly may seem fuller and more extended after doing this, you will have more control over the abdominal contents and difference in your core strength should be noticeable. Not just that but some of you may find that you are able to tighten your abdominals and get a better six pack. Do as frequently as you desire and do not try to hold the breath too long as we are trying to give the body oxygen and not deprive the body of it.
Try this standing, sitting, lying on your back, and lying on your back with your knees pulled close to the body one at a time then both together. The latter gives a great internal massage for those of you with digestion problems. You can do this as frequently as you want to. In a later post I will explain why this is better than taking Prevacid or other known digestive OTC like pepto-bismol.