Today’s pose: Simple. Yet Complex.
Buy a chest and shoulder opener, get transverse abdominus rib cage expansion for free.
What’s the transverse abdominus, you ask?
Movies and advertising feature the proverbial six-pack prominently. The Transverse Abdominus is his harder-working, deepest-layer brother.
First, a shoulder and chest opener, then we meet this Transverse Abdominus guy.
1. Grab a strap/belt, kneel, lift your arms overhead and then drop the arms back to where the stretch feels good to your shoulders. Stay here for three long breaths
2. Turn to your right and, folding over, bring your left shoulder toward your right knee.
3. Now here’s the role for the Transverse Abdominus: breathe into your upper chest while keeping your abdominals contracted; when the upper chest is filled, release your belly to let the breath in deeper. This engages the muscles that stabilize the spine between the rib cage and the hip. When exhaling, exhale from both places.
4. Take two more breaths in this position, and then switch sides. Remember: to inhale into the chest first, keep your abdomen engaged; when the chest is full, then release the abdomen and inhale into it.
Benefits: Shoulder and chest opener. Spine expander. Breath resetter. Good introduction to your transverse abdominus: “How do you do? I’m me.” “Oh, hi, me, I’m transverse abdominus, but my homies call me T.A.”
Avoid if: Your shoulders or wrists feel like they’re straining with this pose… or your spine feels compromised with the twist (it could be a matter of going gentler and building up to it till your abdomen and lower back muscles are strong enough, assuming there are no structural issues with the spine). Avoid also if your shins or your knees don’t like the position (you could do it on a padded surface if that would help).
Final thoughts: Had the Beatles gotten into Transcendental Meditation early on in their career, they might’ve recorded “Twist and Breathe” instead of “Twist and Shout.” They didn’t, and so it’s up to you to make this version popular. “Twist and Breathe (Baby Twist and Breathe). You know you breathe so good (Breathe So Good).” Etc.