My very first class was with Schuyler Grant, one of the founders of Wanderlust. I was super excited because I took this class last year and loved it so much it was the inspiration behind my uddiyana video. What I loved even more than the way she presents the technicalities of how to do uddiyana is the permission we need to give ourselves to “let it all hang out…” She’s talking about the gut, bellies, muffin tops, or whatever identity you’ve given to your mid-section. The key to creating the abdominal vacuum for uddiyana bandha is to RELAX the belly.. letting it all hang out.
Believe it or not, it’s a difficult thing to do. Do you walk around letting your belly drop? Probably not! We walk around sucking it in, holding it firm, wishing we had flatter bellies and firmer bodies. I’ve been there still wishing I could get rid of my left over belly from having two kids. There’s nothing wrong with a harder, firmer, leaner body. In fact it probably feels good to be that fit but at what expense? Only you can know the emotional damage that occurs from your desires for such a body.
The golden nugget I walked away from the Wanderlust weekend is this simple idea that Schuyler said, “outer body soft, inner body strength.” This is true for my own practice and what I try to teach in a power yoga class pairing strength with ease and grace with power. “Drop the shoulders, uncross the brows, relax your face, and smile,” are often cues in my class. I believe if we could just relax in our bodies, we will find the right alignment for our poses. I’m not gonna lie and say I never tell students to “suck in your belly, engage your core, hug it in tight, and you’ll never walk out of my class without getting a good “core” work out.
Is it possible to have a strong core/inner strength without a 6 pack belly? I think so. I’ve seen so many flat bellies out there but are they really strong? Some can barely do a chaturanga (physically). Some can barely do a chaturanga and worse, they think they’ll never be able to do one. Do you think these people are strong? On the flip side, I’ve seen pump, big boned, santa clause bellied students get into poses that size zeros have yet to experience. Hmmm what’s the difference?
It’s all about attitude, intentions, and how YOU perceive your body. Do I still want a flatter belly? It would be nice to lose the extra flap, but it doesn’t matter. In fact I feel much stronger now than I did before I had kids and had a very nicely toned belly. A strong core physically helps relieve my back pain, straightens my posture, and makes everyday movements easier. However, when I’m doing “core work,” I’m actually training my body to soften it’s perspective on what a flatter belly looks like. When I’m relaxed, I can strengthen the actual core muscles without hardening up my face, grunting out loud, shrugging my shoulders, or the worse is calling myself unkind names. I know inner strength is much more stronger than a 6 pack.
I was very happy to see a sprinkle of different sizes and shapes at Wanderlust… although those 6 packers make for very good eye candy