|Simon Borg Olivier in Lolasana--firm belly with soft sides while breathing into belly give this pose power!|
Wow, it is such a privilege to have the influence and guidance of two extra-ordinary yogis that have made such a difference to my practice and life. I hope I can share even a fraction of what I understand from them with you. Remember, best to go to the source--the sources being Paddy McGrath and Yoga Synergy. I am only interpreting my understandings of their teachings.
This week I was blown away by a very simple instruction. Breathe into your belly. It changed my postures dramatically.
Somewhere along the way I have learned to grip my belly so everything is firm. But at a workshop with Simon Borg Olivier over the past ten days I learned that I could keep the front of my belly firm and relax the sides by breathing into my belly. Baby breath.
I have posted previously about a trick to keep the belly firm by pushing the sitting bones down and forward (top of the pelvis backwards). This brings a natural firmness to your belly in poses like plank and bakasana. The instruction that was missing was to see if you can try to continue to breathe into the belly while you practice those poses. This relaxes the sides of the belly as the front stays firm and brings more power into your postures. Not to mention relaxation!
I realise I have been firming the front and gripping the sides of my belly as well, which forces the breath up into the chest, and has been reducing the power of my postures and making me feel a bit tense. For me, over-tensing everything to stabilise has been limiting freedom and mobility.
As Simon mentioned continuously, it is not that one way is necessarily 'wrong' and another 'right'--it depends what you are looking to experience and do. For me, the freedom that came with keeping front firm and sides soft has brought a whole new dimension to my practice, including a beautifully free-floating handstand!
I'd really recommend reading and viewing Simon's blog post about this issue and have a think for yourself. Go to blog.yogasynergy
I will be introducing this concept into my classes to see how it goes for you. Just remember, move cautiously and with awareness. If something does not feel good, then don't do it. If something brings pain, then don't do it. Move away from suffering. Move away from pain. Always, always, always moving towards greater freedom.