Using the breath to move the abdomen was the topic of last week’s Abdominal Adhesion Newsletter, so it seems fitting this week to give you a second edition of your favorite post! (Yoga and Abdominal Adhesions is by FAR the most popular post on my blog.)
As always, try not to go nuts right away with these exercises. They can be powerful medicine not just for the belly but for the whole being. Try them for a couple minutes to start and build from there. (And of course consult your doc before starting and stop if there’s pain.)
Oh, and remember that it helps if you try to have a little fun with them! You can practice them with your kids, family members, or some other willing guinea pig.
1. Bhastrika Breath (Bellows Breath)
It seems to be easiest to learn this breath while standing with knees bent and hands on your knees. This position frees up your abdomen to be the relaxed center of attention. If you have belly image issues, try to put them aside for a moment as you practice this. It works best if your belly is completely relaxed to begin with. Of course, this also works in a sitting position.
Once you are in a comfortable position, inhale sharply and completely through your nose. Let the strong, sharp breath move all the way down into your pelvic bowl. Let the breath completely fill and expand the belly.
Immediately exhale strongly through your nose, completely contracting the abdominal muscles. This pulls all of the belly muscles and the belly button in toward the spine. Imagine your belly button striking the spine with the force of your exhale.
Repeat the inhale and exhale through your nose. It’s usually best to start with five rounds, then work your way up to fifteen rounds, increasing slowly but steadily as you can. One round is one complete inhale and exhale.
This breath massages all of the internal organs including the lungs and heart. It also builds a lot of very useful muscle and energy in the body.
3. Standing Dhanurasana (Standing Wheel)
This is wheel (don’t get scared yet).
Most people look at this and say, “Yeah, right! I can’t do that.” Just give me a minute here.
This is the very beginning of wheel. You can do this, right? Stand (or sit) with your feet a comfortable width apart. Inhale and reach your hands toward the sky. Feel your belly stretching as you work to lift your ribs up and out of your hips and pelvic bowl. Feel the goodness of the stretch as it works its way through your ribs and shoulders.From here it is a very short distance to standing wheel (I also call this wall wheel, or tree wheel as you see below).
Turn your toes in slightly (to protect your low back) and let yourself drop back until you can touch the wall behind you. As you are able, step your feet away from the wall to deepen the back bend. As you can, walk your hands down the wall toward your feet. Keep your breath moving through your belly the whole time.
When you come out of the pose, take your time. It helps to walk your feet back toward the wall as your hands walk back up the wall. Then lift one hand off the wall and reach up toward the sky and then let the other hand come off the wall and reach up as well until you are back in a standing position. From here, do three strong contractions of the belly to neutralize the strong back bend you just did.
Pair these with the three poses from the last post of the same name and you’ve got yourself a nice little abdominal adhesion yoga practice going!
Let me know if you have questions or comments!