Clarifying Yoga Instructions or “Pull Your Lower Belly In and Up”

Ok, I admit it. After 6 years of yoga classes there are still some yoga instructions regularly given in every basic class that make absolutely no sense to me so I’m here to confess.

The last straw, in cliché speak, was in Maria’s (we’ll call her “Maria” ’cause that’s, well, her real name) Thursday night yoga class at the Holy Sutra and Va Va Voom Vinyassa Yoga Studio. (Not the real name, you don’t think I’m stupid, do you? Ok, not a good question to ask).

So, we’re standing at the top of the mat, and Maria says she’s going to explain the oft-repeated instruction to “pull in your lower belly”. Oh good, I think, because when I send this command from my brain to my nether regions, absolutely NOTHING happens. In this way, yoga has helped me to understand what it must feel like to be paralyzed. There are many yoga instructions where I send these commands to my whatever part of the body, absolutely NOTHING happens.

“Called “uddiyana bandha” (ooo-dee-YAH-na BAHN-da)”, she says, measure three fingers below your navel, and then feel this muscle. This is the transverse abdominal, or the muscle that you engage, when you’re asked to ‘pull in your lower belly”. I follow this instruction. I feel no muscle whatsoever. I do however feel something akin to the last time I went to a butcher and had a five-pound fresh slab of extra fatty smoked bacon prepared for me. I’m tempted to speak up and ask what if I feel THAT, but I know from experience the skinny people do not always appreciate these comments. In case you think I’m making this up, (which wouldn’t be completely unfair since that’s the nature of hyperbole), or in the completely weird event you’re actually INTERESTED in the topic and want a SERIOUS discussion, see http://www.thesecretsofyoga.com/yoga-articles/Uddiyana-Bandha.html.

For those of you who are considering yoga but have not taken it, it helps if you understand that all yoga instructors are from the marvel comics, but have to go to Dalai Lama school before they can teach yoga. This insures they can both handle their super power (you know, levitate right side up AND UPSIDE DOWN, do a handstand with no hands, make their soul glow in the dark, or shoot rainbows out their ass. I swear I saw that once. Ok, maybe I was delirious) AND that you won’t, in projecting your self frustration at not being able to “pull in your lower belly” stab them in the parking lot after class.

“Glide your shoulder blades down the back”. WHAT? Yes, I saw “Avatar”. AND the AVENGERS. So, what. Here’s the thing. My shoulders do one thing. Shrug. It’s a DNA guy thing. Ex GF- “I’m leaving you”. “Shrug”. “Do you want to talk to me or watch this TV program?” Shrug. I’m not even sure I HAVE shoulder blades. I don’t even know what that means?!?!?!

While you’re laying on your stomach, “put your toes, the top of your feet AND YOUR SHINS FLAT on the floor. I cannot get my shins on the floor from any position. Even kneeling. Here’s a little test you can try. Stick your leg out. Bend your foot forward. If your foot bends sooooooo far forward it’s at a 180 degree straight line with the rest of your leg, you can probably get your shins on the floor. You are also probably a Marvel Comics baby whether you know it or not, and should check in at the closest yoga studio so they can tell you about Dalai Lama school.

For a later blog, “press your hip points into the floor”. “Dalai Lama, Dalai Lama”.

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