Contributed by Rosemarie Layne
Be assured that when you have finished this routine, your abdominal region will feel tighter, and this will help control the muscles throughout the day – even when you are not actively engaging them. But, first we need to identify the muscles involved.
Lie on your back and place your hands resting on the middle of your stomach. Feel the rise and fall of your breath. Slow down your breath and observe the rhythm of your upper abs, just below your chest.
1. Abdominal Pull-in
Contract with small, even pulses (moderate pace). Then, pull in even further, with a pause, creating a strong, throbbing sensation in the navel area. Increase speed.
2. Stomach lift
Similar to above, but with a vertical pull – extremely effective for tightening a sagging belly.
3. Pelvic tuck
Tilt the pelvis forward in a series of pulses, while pulling in the abs (navel to spine), exhaling on the forward movement. Do not hold your breath. To effectively target the lower abdominals, movement should be small and subtle, and not like a thrust.
4. Kalabati breath (a yoga form with rapid nostril breathing)
- Pull in as before, exhaling with a series of short puffs through the nostrils, keeping a moderately fast rhythm, pausing for a second between puffs as you release the muscles outward. You can start with 8 reps, and, gradually work up to 24.
- Then, increase the speed of breath to the fastest possible (about the speed of a pant, but maintaining the nostril breath). Do 4 reps and rest and work up to 12. Make sure you are strongly pulling in the abs.
- Repeat (2), using the stomach lift technique, first at the slower, and then faster speed.
- Repeat (1), but this time, inhaling through the nose (like a sniff).
- Increase speed as in (2), but do not go over 6 reps, as you will get winded. If you experience a momentary light headed feeling, don’t be alarmed. Your heart will also beat faster. Both of these are normal due to the sudden release of fresh oxygen in the blood. This will increase your circulation and invigorate you.
- In time, work up to inhaling WITH the stomach lift technique – at a moderate, and then a rapid rate.
N.B.. These movements, especially the Kalabati breath technique, are very subtle, but quite challenging. When performing them, focus on contracting your abdominals only. Avoid lifting the shoulders or chest, or moving the pelvis backward.