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the transverse abdominis

Friday, October 13, 2017

The following blog post was originally a message board post I made on the Yoga Lover's team page.

I have a strong yoga practice. I practice Baptiste Power Vinyasa Flow in a heated studio 5 or 6 times a week. I've been seriously practicing for 6 years. When I began I was quite strong: bodyweight circuits, calisthenics, and free weights. I was also underweight. Although I didn't have much fat on me I had distended abs. My midsection was like a rock, I did so much ab work. Obsessive, yes. I didn't know why my guts protruded. They didn't in earlier days.

Six years later, I'm not underweight. Every Baptiste practice has a section devoted to core work and I continue to excel with that. For years I have worked on jumping back into chaturanga from bakasana. I am still not able to do this. I know that this explosive movement comes from the core. I work and work on my core with uddiyana bandha (upward abdominal lock), posture, navel to spine, and ab exercises. Nonetheless, this transition eludes me. Many arm balances also are very difficult for me. I've been told by my teacher that I easily have the strength for them. What is required is to activate my core. Yet, my core is so strong! Or so I thought. Oh, and in slender times, my distended midsection is quite apparent.

I began researching. I've recently learned about inner and outer abdominals. The Rectus Abdominus, strengthened by crunches, are external abs. The Transversus Abdominus and Lumbar Multifidus are the inner abdominal muscles.
"...These muscles are rarely discussed, and the most neglected. These muscles lie beneath the Rectus Abdominus and External Obliques. The inner abdominal muscles support posture and control deep breathing during power movements, such as heavy squats. They are responsible for back support. Since they are rarely targeted, they are often weaker. By building a stronger inner abdominal wall, you can limit and relieve back pain, create a tighter midsection, and add explosive power to your training. "

And: "...Crunches, sit-ups, and even many pilates moves cause the abdominal wall to bulge forward, straining the connective tissue that runs up and down the center of your rectus abdominis (the six-pack muscles). Yes, those exercises strengthen your abs, but they do so at the expense of your connective tissue. Repeated forceful stress on that tissue will physically separate the muscles, a medical condition known asdiastasis recti. This tends to obliterate the waistline, leaving fit women with what we call an “athletic build” (no curves), and men with a paunch. Sit-ups and crunches are not the only culprit... so is pregnancy. The majority of pregnancies result in diastasis recti, wreaking havoc on a formerly firm, flat stomachs."

Whether from pregnancy or exercise, has anyone else dealt with a weak core, distended midsection, difficulty doing transitions or asanas that require a great deal of core? Am I on the right track?

From my research I see that there are exercises to strengthen the traverse abdominis. The uddiyana bandha engagement in yoga parallels the isometric work done in these exercises. I'll let you know how things progress. I would love to know others' experiences.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    i tried bakasana tonight with a jump back as i got it. oddly/obviously before calisthenics i couldn't straighten my arms for this pose, but now i can't seem to do it with bent elbows. straight arms is the better expression t think, but not judging for sure.

    tried again after holding the inversion. i was ok with both the pose and the kick to chaturanga, but i don't have a clue where the best advice i could give.

    so i will practice this as i have wanted since you mentioned it.
    1302 days ago
    disclaimer this is my opinion

    leave the 6pack for men watching testosterone commercials. they will get drunk and mail-order some body image muscles

    when those ab exercises keep you awake in bed as spasms

    or worse cramps

    tight muscles cramp

    practice jumping back with hands on blocks

    i accidentally discovered the jump back to plank on blocks. i felt at that time and remember this, that careful chaturanga practice led me to it. i practiced chaturanga by leaning forward so i barely balanced on the tips of my toes.

    tight abs will pull that jump short. i feel a lean forward and shoot the feet back. it was a neat feeling

    tight abs restrict easy breathing. is forward fold about pulling with the abs? for me it is relaxing the hamstrings that gets me forward. jump back is a relaxed maneuver. i think everyone's feet hit the floor with a little thud.

    also i was determined to get my jump forward. never happened and i have not tried in a long time. will try that soon i hope. i have concluded that running is the best core exercise. not proven and i know some people will never like running

    1327 days ago
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