Activating your transversus abdominis from a table position
Bringing your spine into a neutral position is critical for the success of this practice. Have patience with the details of the starting position. You will probably want to work on a mat or a carpeted surface.
- Position yourself on your hands and knees
- Line up your limbs so that your hands are directly underneath your armpits, and your knees are directly below your hip creases.
- Relax your hips.
The position should establish a gentle sway in your lumbar spine.
- Open your hands to allow space between your fingers.
- Rotate your upper arms so the creases of your elbows face forward.
- Draw your shoulder blades toward your sacrum.
- Press your palms and fingers into the floor.
These actions should broaden your upper back and open your chest without changing your lumbar curve or tilting your pelvis under.
- Gaze at the floor about 12 inches in front of your hands.
This should put a gentle curve in your neck. You’ve now established a neutral position for your spine.
- Let your abdomen relax completely.
- Feel it hanging from your spine.
- Breathe moderately and slowly through your nose.
- Feel your breath filling both the front and back of your ribcage.
- Feel it widening your lower ribs.
- Inhale, exhale, and then without taking another breath, very slowly draw your abdomen in and up, away from the ground.
- If it helps, focus your attention on the part of your abdomen between the pubic bone and navel and imagine your intestines sliding in and up toward the back of your waist.
- Along with the sensation of your abdomen rising, look for accompanying activity in your lumbar muscles. (This should be a faint sensation of activity in your lower back but not a movement in your spine).
You may not feel it immediately, but if you persist, the transversus abdominus sensation will develop.
Make your (TA) contraction gradually, and only 25 percent of what you sense would be your maximum effort. If you activate the muscle too strongly or rapidly you will use its fast twitch fibers. Go slowly to engage the slow twitch fibers that will support your abdomen.
Because inner corset practice involves so little effort, and produces only internal movement, you may think you are not doing anything. Persist. It may take lots of practice to develop the sensation.
Repeat the above steps several times. When you’re sure you’re activating your TA, sustain the feeling while you continue breathing through your lower ribs. Start with one full breathing cycle and work up to eight.
If you cannot breathe correctly while holding the contraction, reestablish your starting position to be sure your lower ribs are free to move. Being able to breathe with your outer ribs tells you that you have not engaged the outer corset muscles. (If you allow your lumbar curve to flatten, your outer corset will assume the abdominal work. Because the outer muscles restrict the lower rib cage, they block breathing).