In my last post I wrote about the joy of engaging with the softer side of abdominal care, the joyful side of it.
And I was reflecting that this is something that yoga helps us to do so beautifully. Yoga is so intimately connected into our abdomens, not just through the physical poses that I talk about in other posts, but in the ways that we think about our abdomens and our bellies . . . or at least it can be.
I worry that yoga has become synonymous with a “fit” body and, while that is a topic for another post altogether, I just want to take a moment to recognize what yoga is doing is doing in and for our bellies when we practice it, no matter what our bellies look like, no matter what poses we “can” or “can’t” do.
1. Yoga massages our innards. Yes, indeedy. Every time you take a breath in and your belly puffs out like a balloon . . . every time you exhale and your belly hollows out . . . you are massaging your internal organs. You are strengthening your abdominal muscles (front, back, left, and right). Every time you lay on your belly and work into a pose like bow, or cobra, or locust, you are massaging almost every part of your belly. Especially when you keep working that great breath into your belly while in the pose! Wonderful, eh?
2. Speaking of breathing. Ever noticed how you feel better when you’ve consciously breathed and followed your breath even for just one solitary minute? It’s not woo-woo, it’s physiology, it’s science. And yes, I also experience conscious and specific breath leading to deep and powerful energetic states. But even without the latter, breathing well calms and energizes every aspect of our being. That’s definitely yogic, right?
3. Because of all of this, yoga really does foster connection with our bellies. If you know my work at all, you know that I am constantly (possibly ad nauseum) talking about the importance of gaining and maintaining solid, loving connection with our bellies. So many people get cut off from the experience of their belly and abdomen when it is in pain, distress, or sometimes when it simply doesn’t look like what they think it should look like. Yoga can clean this right up for you if you let it. Yoga loves strong, relaxed, open bellies.
So here’s to taking a few minutes for yoga as often as you feel called to do it. You don’t have to go to class. Sitting with your breath, looking inward to find any thread of connection to yourself, to your belly; trying hard to follow that thread, that is yoga.
The potential for yoga practice always right there in your hands, just like your beautiful belly.
- Isabel Spradlin is a Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and abdominal adhesion specialist in Portland, OR. She specializes in educating people about manual treatment (massage) for abdominal pain and dysfunction, especially when it is adhesion related. Please see the "Programs" page to see her offerings.