“Healing Yoga” with Deborah Devine airs daily on One!
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As we move through our Zoomer years, we want to feel vital and strong, but as the time rolls by, we seem to be feeling more rolls around our middle. Of course, everyone wants a trimmer waistline and a stronger core, but as we age, it seems to be so much harder to achieve. Then, when we add injury, illness, or challenges like arthritis to the mix, it can be very discouraging.
The core is such an important and meaningful place in both the physical body, as well as the emotional and energetic body. It’s not just about looking better, it’s about feeling great in our bodies and being able to do things with ease like lifting things with ease. The core houses 80% of our immune system and the health of our core impacts our mood. This area is also associated with personal power, moving physical and emotional energy from the upper part of the body to the lower, and vice versa. Of course, it also helps with optimal digestive processing.
How Yoga Works
When we work with the core in our yoga practice, we are physically stretching and strengthening the muscles and connective tissue, using various poses and breath techniques. But, that’s just the beginning.
We use our breath to move awareness deeper into all of our visceral organs. We actually squeeze our belly organs gently, and wring them out, breathing into each of them, bringing fresh oxygen and prana (or life-force) into each cell. When we work this way, our circulation is greatly improved, and we enjoy a feeling of deep well being. Why? Because we are stimulating serotonin.
Our gentle and restorative yoga practice helps us to wash, wring, and rinse out the back muscles, the belly muscles, connective tissue, and visceral organs. To achieve this we use poses that compress, open, twist the belly organs and rotate the spine – this really gets energy moving.
These movements are very detoxifying and we experience a dramatic improvement in our shape over time, because we are actually sculpting the body through the practice.
The restorative aspects of our practice help to initiate the Relaxation Response, which helps balance our hormones, allowing our bodies begin to heal from the inside out.
When we’re truly relaxed, the parasympathetic nervous system becomes dominant and the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, come down. Studies have found that when cortisol is reduced, we often see a reduction in our waistline too.
Fire in the Belly
When we work strongly with the core, we ignite of the fires of the solar plexus. This action engages the muscles and connective tissue of the torso and the pelvic floor, strengthening and toning them.
Instead of looking for six-pack abs on the outer abdomen, yoga draws our awareness inward and we use mindfulness to bring our inner vision deeper. Soon, we become acutely aware of the energetic patterns of what we call our “core.”
Ancient seers or rishi’s cultivated insights about the body’s energy anatomy over thousands of years of inner observing, They discovered that the navel area has a very strong aspects of the element of fire reflecting the functions of digestion and emotional processing patterns. It’s these fires of transformation that allow the digestive system to break down our food into nourishment for each of our cells and give us the energy we need to forge ahead in our lives.
We typically feel and hold hot emotions here, including anger, jealousy and hurt. What’s more, the fire can also purify us on other levels, allowing us to process these hot emotional experiences and transform them into wisdom and compassion.
It’s All in the Gut
The fire of this energy centre, known to yogis as the Manipura Chakra, also generates light, and the vision is the sense associated with 3rd Chakra. Indeed, there are many reports of eyesight improvements when our “core” improves.
We also know from experience how our gut instincts usually help us see and feel what’s truly going on, and these messages are delivered with lightening speed. This is the area is known as the enteric nervous system, or the “Second Brain” because it has more nerve endings than the entire spinal column or the peripheral nervous system. One hundred million neurons live in our belly, and are talking to our brain all the time through the vagus nerve.
Talk about an amazing communication system! It’s with this awareness we are cultivating that we can really improve not just the physical core of our body, but also the emotional and energetic core of who we are.
Working the core gently in a way that accommodates our unique health circumstances can be a powerful practice. By just doing what we can do, modifying the movements and adapting them to our needs, enables us to increase our personal power, self-esteem and will power. It can also have a positive ripple effect across every dimension of your life, not just with the measuring tape!