I was able to get the energetic sense of breathing from my lower abdomen this morning— but only while standing still. During all of the twists and bends, I was breathing from higher in my chest — either under my stomach, or even higher at my pectorals.
Even now, as I stand here writing this on my phone, I can feel that subtle point of tension in my stomach as there’s a gentle push from my muscles and my lungs empty. And then there’s a relaxation and my lungs fill again. Strange.
My buttocks want to get into this action. There’s a combined desire to use muscles in the lower back and legs to straighten the lower spine (which ought to have some curve to it), and these muscles in the abdomen to flatten the stomach. But it really needs to be one thing at a time.
It’s also the case that the muscles in the upper abdomen want to get into the action. My breath keeps wanting to rise higher, from my navel to my solar plexus. But, that’s not what this particular work is about. This seems to be about fixing my center of gravity.
My center of gravity — like most men in their forties, alas — wants to hang outside of the frame of my body. It’s called a gut. I ran into a junior high school friend yesterday; we haven’t seen one another in nearly 30 years. He was a wiry kid, strong but short and lithe as I recall. Now at 42-44, he’s bigger and beefier, and thicker around the middle.
So am I. But I was nearly always this way.
During toe touches, and the movement called Carrying Milk to Heaven I was conscious that this thick part around my middle is in my way. My body’s been aware of it for longer. But when I’m breathing from this place in my deep lower abdomen, it’s not in the way.
It’s why my back was hurting a few weeks ago. Oh!
Consider — muscles are almost always in pain because the alternating muscle or muscle group is tense. It’s not the muscle that hurts which is the problem; it’s the surrounding muscles which are stretching it or tensing it out of shape.
My back muscles hurt — my back muscles stop hurting but my abdominals start flexing in new ways that changes breath structure… Hey Look! It’s tensegrity! Doing exactly what it’s supposed to do!
My body was telling me that my abdomen was too slack — back pain. My abdominal muscles and buttocks engage; back pain gets better, mysteriously. I notice my breathing has changed patterns. I start trying to work that breath pattern consciously… thus gumming up the works… Huh. What do you know? Back pain.
Breath allowed now to happen the way it wants… Back pain vanishes. Tensegrity. Clearly? The body knows what it’s doing. Let it do its thing.