Intermediate Practice: Softening and Dividing the Abdominal Wall in Back Bends

Still thinking about quadratus lumborum and psoas, in this practice we will also think about the abdominal wall as we perform a series of back bending poses. For the front of the body to properly be able to lengthen, the torso to arch and the spine to extend, the abdominal muscles, especially rectus abdominis, must be free. If not, the chest will continually be pulled towards the pubic bone and the lower back will crunch as the lumbar spine tries to take the brunt of the arch.

As you go through the poses consider the following actions:
  • Elongate the psoas by lengthening behind the pubic bone, navel and sternum. Think of grounding/moving towards the legs the lesser trochanters, the lower attachment of the psoas, while widening and lifting/moving towards the head T12, the upper attachment.
  • Soften and widen the abdomen and allow it to fall back into the quadratus lumborum. Divide the abdomen at the navel, allowing the lower abdomen to move with the pubic bone and the upper abdomen to move with the sternum
  • Soften and widen the quadratus lumborum. To help this, soften and widen the buttocks and lengthen them toward the siting bones, while also softening and widening the lower lattisimus dorsi and lengthening them towards the head.
  • When twisting, initiate the movement in the quadratus lumborum, widening it and wrapping it around.

The Sequence:

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose)

Child’s Pose with a blanket roll under the abdomen

Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose)

Shirshasana Cycle:
Salamba Shirshasana 1 (Head Stand 1)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Upavishtha Konasana (Seated Angle Pose) in Head Stand
Eka Pada Shirshasana (Single Leg Head Stand)
Parshvaikapada Shirshasana (Single Leg to the Side Head Stand)

Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose) over a bolster
• 3 to 5 minutes.

Sarvangasana Cycle:
Salamba Sarvangasana 1 (Shoulder Stand 1)
Halasana (Plough Pose)
Supta Konasana (Reclined Angle Pose)
Eka Pada Sarvangasana (Single Leg Shoulder Stand)
Parshvaikapada Sarvangasana (Single Leg to the Side Shoulder Stand)

Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
• Cross the legs in any accessible variation: Sukhasana (Comfortable Pose), Ardha Padmasana (Half Lotus Pose), Padmasana (Lotus Pose).
• Do the pose with over a bolster under the back crosswise to create a back bend. Support the head and arms as necessary.
• Hold for 2 to 3 minutes each crossing of the legs.

Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Single Leg Bridge Pose from Shoulder Stand)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose from Shoulder Stand)
• Do these with the elbows belted and a single blanket and folded mat under the shoulders.
• Repeat each drop-back 3 times.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
• Have a bolster under the abdomen/lower ribs to support and lift the belly.

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
• Have a bolster under the abdomen/lower ribs to support and lift the belly.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
• Do the pose with the chest against the wall.

Rajakapotasana (King Pigeon Pose)
• If possible, from the above position, bend the legs and reach back to grab the ankles, thighs or knees.

Marichyasana 3 (Marichi’s Pose 3)

Ardha Matsyendrasana 1 (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose 1)

Pashasana (Noose Pose)

Pashchimottanasana (Intense West Stretch Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


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