Beach at Yoga Teacher Training ResortBy Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 250

Are your students requesting an exercise that tones muscles around their mid-section? Look no further. Hatha Yoga has many secrets. Among them is the Yoga sit-up. Mix in other postures such as Boat and Bow pose to completely tone the mid-section. Below are instructions on how to teach this practice.

Yoga sit ups should always be done in slow motion. Yoga sit ups should always be done with full awareness of the spine as you roll up into a sitting position “one vertebrae at a time.” Yoga sit ups differ fundamentally from leg lifts in that for sit ups you are rolling up the part of the body (the torso) that controls the movement itself, while in leg lifts you are raising up a part of the body that is merely connected to the lifting unit.

The initial position for sit ups is lying supine, keeping the thighs together, flexing the feet and toes, extending the knees, and pressing the lower back to the floor. Then, with the hands pointed toward the feet and the lower back held against the floor, flex the head toward the chest. Breathing evenly continues to roll up one vertebra at a time until you are in a sitting position. Concentrate on the action of the abdominal muscles, and stretch the hands forward as much as possible. Come down from the posture in reverse order, slowly rolling down, first the sacrum, then the lumbar reigon, chest and finally the head and neck, breathing evenly all the way. If you are unable to lift up significantly, just squeeze up as much as is comfortable, hold the position isometrically for a few seconds, and slowly roll back down. You will benefit from the posture.

Holding your back flat against the floor while initiating a sit up powerfully activates the abdominal muscles, and this enables them to act as prime movers for rolling you up and forward, but if you start with the lower back arched forward, beware. The abdominal muscles will be relaxed and less effective, and the psoas muscles will create excess tension at the lumbar lordosis, exactly as in old style sit ups. Do not let this happen. If you do not have enough control to keep the back against the floor, bend the knees before you do the sit up just as you would in crunches. Even if you are careful to keep the lower back against the floor as you start the sit up, the exercise still compresses the spine and should be done for only a few repetitions.

© Copyright 2011 – Amruta Kulkarni / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

Amruta Kulkarni is a certified Yoga teacher and an exclusive author for Aura Wellness Center.

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