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Anatomy of the Deep Belly

Exploring the Mysteries of the Lower Belly in Yoga Practice

The lower belly is the source of the body’s energy, singled out in yoga practice as the seat of personal power. In all of the internal arts from yoga to qi gung to tai chi, the physical vitality for the body resides in the depths of the belly. Engaging the low belly is always a bit of a mystery. What is your relationship to your lower belly? Do you feel tightness, compression or heaviness? As many people age, the lower abdomen loses its supportive capacity. The gut collapses downward, prolapses into the pelvis and people suffer digestive, spinal or reproductive complications. Within the pelvic basin there is an admixture of organs and glands packed together in a small space the size of a mixing bowl.

Empowerment Through Movement: Mobilizing the Lower Belly for Inner Harmony

In yoga we elevate, twist and turn and invert the contents of the bowl. By mobilizing the lower belly we stretch the fascia that enshrouds the uterus, bladder, colon and seminal ducts. When this fascia gets glued together it may result in uterine fibroids, constipation, infertility or irregular menses. In yogic terminology when the lower abdomen loses its integrity, the “breath” cannot properly flow into the gut, causing stagnation in apana vayu.  In yoga, we lift the lower abdomen via an upward movement known as uddiyana bandha. This increases circulation through the large iliac arteries and veins that tunnel through the lower abdomen and keeps the iliopsoas muscle flexible.

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