Breathe to get strong!
When you talk about the core of a planet, you really mean its absolute center. The human body is the same. Our core relies on our absolute center : the diaphragm.
what is the diaphragm
The diaphragm is a muscle, active 24/7 that we use for breathing and stabilisation. When we think about it, we breathe an average of 20,000 times a day. Every breath pattern (even the not so beneficial ones) uses the diaphragm. Due to its position, it triggers all the core muscles and act as the strongest stabilizer thus helping to keep the spine healthy. If you take a look at your trunk, it is like a cylinder with muscles wrapped (transversus abdominus in particular) all around, the diaphragm at the top and the pelvic floor at the bottom. As you breathe, all these muscles act together. The diaphragm is like a parachute, it flattens out, pushing the organs down, adding presure to the pelvic floor who will also gain a work out from it, and allows the lungs to receive air as you breathe in, and relax back up as you breathe out.
It s all about pressure, compression and release
The diaphragm contracts and pushes down into the abdominal cavity,
The pelvic floor creates a resistance to take on the load of the organs pushing down,
The abdominal walls all around contracts, increase pressure in front of the spine.The tranversus abdominus (the deeper muscles that goes all around the trunk) compresses the abdomen inward like a corset.
The pressure is counteracted by the contraction of the lower back muscles (lumbar extensor) so that the spine is stabilized, lenghtened and the intervertebral discs decompress. Without proper diaphragm contraction the increased intra abdominal pressure will not reach all the way down to the lower lumbar spine, where the loading is most prominent.
Like every muscles, to be fully functionnal, the diaphragm needs to be stretched and toned.
When we breathe consciously, we prepare for that strenghtening and stabilisation from the center of our body.
The 3 part breathing will set the stage for stronger breath exercice to tone the organs, and abdominal muscles like uddiyana bandha, the flying lock. The use of uddiyana bandha help to gain that extra strength and stabilisation that makes every lift look easy.
Before practicing the full uddiyana bandha motion, you can prepare yourself lying on the floor. It is easier to get a sense of the muscles (tranversus abdominus action) and movement of the diaphragm in that position.
Lie on the floor, take a deep breath in and fully breath out every little bit of oxygen in your body. Feel the belly sucking in against the spine. At this point the pelvis should stay in neutral position, and the rib cage shouldn't move. The sides of the body are pressing in towards the spine.
For Uddiyana bandha, practice in a seated position. Take the time to connect with the center of the body. Keep the back straight, shoulders relaxed and chin slightly tucked in.
Take a deep breathe in. Breath out all the air in your body. Like when you were lying down, feel the belly sucking in, without moving the position of the pelvis.
Hold the breathe out tuck the chin in. Lift the stomach up as if it was vaccumed from above. Expand the chest as you do that.
When the air is not allowed to enter the lungs, the central tendon of the diaphragm is pulled up into the thoracic cavity and the diaphragm is actively stretched and pulls up the muscles and organs that are attached to it. The diaphragm, the abdominals and organs are toned and kept healthy.
Thanks for reading. enjoy the practice!