2015, Series 4, Week 5 - Core Beliefs

Many of us have grown up believing in the benefits of a flat stomach - both as a sign of health and vitality and as a neccessary part of back care. It might surprise you to learn that constantly sucking your belly in prompts degenerative forces that can weaken you from the inside out.

Whether you (or your clothes) are constantly pulling your belly inwards, the abdominal organs have to go somewhere. They are either going to go up (potential hiatal hernia, digestive and respiratory issues) or down (potentially impacting the pelvic floor and eliminative functions). These are just a few of the potential implications of the constant suck. There are many more.

The best thing you could ever do towards a strong and healthy core is work on your optimal alignment. Let's clarify that does not mean posture. Our ideas about good posture are one of the reasons we thrust our ribs and tuck our pelvis under (a major threat to core strength).

There is an optimal way to stack the bones as we move through life, and there is an optimal range and amount of movement for each one of us. Our alignment considers every aspect of our moving machine. Habits and tensions and busy lifestyles that have led to us accepting efficiency measures have made it difficult to maintain that balance. The sequences we work on together are about releasing the tensions that might inhibit our alignment and serve us as daily vitamins that supplement our movement nutrition, restoring balance and taking us towards a healthier and pain free normal.

Here is a great clip by Barbara Loomis (Restorative Exercise  Specialist™) that explains the results of the constant tummy suck.

Everything we talked about today has a big effect on your breathing mechanics. Katy Bowman explains here why we focus on rib cage breathing in classes.

If you enjoyed some of the stronger core strengthening movements we did in class today I recommend Katy Bowman's "A Little Dab Of Abs" Alignment snack. There are some great functional movement tips and upper body strengthening too. Make sure you watch the bonus clips at the end that talk about neck and shoulder tension and the difference between exercise and natural movement. Please note that Katy charges $5 US for these 'snacks', about $7.50 Australian at the moment, and once you've downloaded them once they are yours forever more. Click on the link below for more than 20 class options.

Alignment Snacks


You can work with your entire Gait Basics, Week 1 handout sequence each day now. Each week I add a bonus exercises to play with.

  • Foot Alignment
  • Calf Stretch
  • Foot Stretch
  • Double Calf Stretch
  • Knee Cap Lift and Lower
  • Monster Walk

Bonus Extras (you can fit these exercises into your day as time permits, remember it doesn't need to be a formal practice):

  • Hand Stretch (This is the calf stretch for your upper body!)
  • Standing Arm Swing (or start bringing it into your daily walks)
  • Stomach Release

Stomach Release:
Start on your hands and knees, keeping the knees directly under your hips, and wrists directly under the shoulders. Let your head hang. Without bending your elbows, release all tension and let your stomach and chest hang. Ask yourself "can I relax more?" "more?" "more?" you get the picture! t for up to 60 seconds.


Stomach Release position. Notice fingers are spread wide and elbow pitts are rotated forward so that shoulders are in external rotation.

Stomach Release position. Notice fingers are spread wide and elbow pitts are rotated forward so that shoulders are in external rotation.

We recently looked at Head Ramp and Head Hang to improve our shoulder girdle health and whole body function. Here is Lucy demonstrating the seated version. Be gentle as you ramp your head back and then don't forget to relax!