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?