The clock in your Belly

While this is something I often share in dance classes it’s an exercise that benefits everyone as it helps to…

~ become aware of the muscles in the lower belly (yes, you do have them!),

~ strengthen your abdominal muscles,

~ keep your pelvis positioned and abs engaged effectively for good posture, and in that,

~ protect your lower back.

The pelvic clock makes us slow down and take our focus inside to smaller movements within us. It connects us with our source, root energy where our passion, creativity and intuition reside

Start by lying on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and hands at your sides. This position encourages all of your belly muscles to relax completely. Throughout this isolating exercise you want to only contract the muscle you’re focusing on, all others should remain completely relaxed (and this may not happen the first few times you try this, but it will eventually)

If you were holding a clock parallel to your lower belly the area of your belly button would be 12:00, the left hip 3:00, the space just above your pubic bone 6:00 and the right hip 9:00. The smaller muscles in these areas are the only ones you’ll be using.

First: Contract and release only the 12:00 muscle. Sometimes placing a finger over the area helps to recognize and isolate the muscle. The rest of your muscles should be relaxed. Then try only the 6:00 muscle. (Some have a difficult time finding the 6:00 muscle…one way is to do a kegel muscle contraction and at the top of that contraction you’ll feel a small part of your belly contract…that is your 6:00 muscle…that muscle should be contracted whenever you’re dancing regardless of the moves)

Next: Let the contractions flow between 12:00 and 6:00, isolating each muscle and only contracting one at a time. **Don’t forget to breathe!

Second: Contract and release only the 3:00 muscle by pushing the left hip into the floor. This is a smaller movement and the right hip shouldn’t lift from the floor, if it does you’re making the movement too big. Then try only the 9:00 muscle at the right hip.

Next: Let the muscle contractions flow between 3:00 and 9:00, isolating each muscle, keeping the hips in contact with the floor and remembering to breathe.

Finally: Close your eyes, breathe and begin the muscle contractions at 12:00 (just below the navel) and like the hands of a clock allow it to flow to 3:00 (the left hip), then 6:00 (just above the pubic bone), 9:00 (the right hip) and back to 12:00. Remembering to isolate and contract only the muscle at each time stop. Work with this move both clockwise and counter-clockwise.

Practice the Pelvic Clock slowly, take the time to draw the breath into your belly, keeping all the abdominal muscles that you’re not using relaxed. While strengthening your lower ab muscles you’re also helping to keep your low back strong building a strong foundation for your posture.

Points to ponder….

  • In other cultures, the belly is considered to be the centre of our physical & spiritual power and is honoured as such.
  • In some traditions “hara” is the word for the breath of your belly. A person with good “hara is said to be centred, warm-hearted and wise.
  • Breathing deeply into your belly increases the flow of Oxygen. Oxygen encourages healthy cell development, feeds our muscles and energizes the blood.
  • When we’re stressed we often draw it into our bellies and that has an impact on the digestive system. Drawing breath into that space opens up and relaxes the digestive system so itcan function optimally.
  • Whenever you practice mindful isolations of your belly muscles you’re also giving your colon a massage (helps to keep you regular!) ….be sure that you’re drinking extra water.
  • Strengthening the lower ab muscles helps to lift and support those organs that may be dropping with gravity and age.
  • The pelvis cradles our sacrum. The centre balance point for our bodies. When the muscles supporting the pelvis are strong we have a reliable base for the rest of our movements.
  • Our pelvis is said to hold our emotional experiences, the bones the guardians of our emotions. Strengthening and stretching the surrounding muscles softens the walls of our emotional fortresses and helps us to make peace with and express our emotions in dance.

Share your experiences as you practice the clock…How does your back feel?

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TUMMY RUBS

What dogs absolutely love is good for humans too!

The “fire in the belly”…

it can be a spiritual understanding, a mental “knot in the gut”, or the physical burning of indigestion. What ever the experience, it is affecting your body’s core. The area beneath our ribcage and above our hips is filled with the soft organs of digestion, a bundle of physical and emotional nerves and the soft unprotected grounds of our psyche…so often overlooked and forgotten, unless it’s grumbling from lack of attention.

As a belly dance teacher who encourages students to dance from that energetic belly fire, it saddens me when I hear the way women will talk about their bellies. Exposing the belly is always optional in classes; many feel pretty vulnerable about showing off their mid-drift. I’ve heard this beautifully rounded body part described as too fat, too thin, too ugly, too lumpy, too many scars… covered up rather than embraced for the powerful, beautiful, life-filled space that it is. I’ve also watched, as confidence builds, belly scars decorated with temporary tattoos, henna, bindis and other forms of art, stomachs draped with scarves, veils, fringe and coins…and then that pivotal moment when a student will come into class, shyly undrape, to show an outfit that exposes her belly for all to see. THAT takes confidence, courage and inner strength!

Our mid-drifts hold all of the organs of digestion

those organs that play a pivotal role in our physical and emotional absorption and elimination. If we’re bound up tight physically or emotionally our belly will talk with us loudly through tummy aches, gas, indigestion, constipation and cramping. There can be no question about it, when our belly is stressed, we hear about it. But when we take a few moments and breathe deeply into the belly, exhaling fully, we can release the tension and the ache within, when we give our belly a physical rub or a positive emotional thought it helps it to unwind from its cramped space.

Abdominal or Belly Massage is very often skipped over during a massage session despite how important it is. Studies show that in using specific massage techniques abdominal massage can help to reduce gastric upsets and pain, relieve constipation, promote good digestion, ease colic, break down scar tissue from surgery, help the uterus to unwind from menstrual cramping and soothe the nerves. Perhaps it can also, through positive touch, open one up to embracing their mid-section?

Imagine rubbing your belly first, for comfort and ease, before taking medications…
Or perhaps, experiencing good digestion and regular bowel movements…
Or soothing the grip of menstrual cramps and anxiety…

There are many essential oils, that when properly diluted with oil or lotion can enhance your Abdominal Massage. Dill, Basil, Chamomile and Fennel assist the digestion process, Clary Sage and Geranium for menstrual cramps, Peppermint and Chamomile for upset stomach related to headaches, Marjoram, Tangerine and Fennel help to release emotional stress held in the belly.

Watch for April’s Health Session Special…all about the Belly!

When was the last time that you gave your tummy a positive pat?
Do you hold stress in your belly? Is it upset at the same time that you have a headache? What positive things do you do to feed the “fire in your belly”?

DID YOU KNOW that laughter is the BEST medicine for digestion? A good belly laugh jogs and massages your internal organs.