My core is not a new exploration for me, but like any meaningful relationship, it’s one that evolves, deepens in understanding, and challenges me to no end. It’s part of me that beckons and often times screams for attention. My core contains precious cargo from the top of my skull to my pelvic floor; the core includes my brain and central nervous system, my heart, lungs, and digestive, elimination and reproductive systems and organs. The skull, ribcage, spine and pelvic bones give it structure and protection. Muscles and miles of connective tissue mobilize it and hold it all together. The seven chakras, or energy centers, run up and down my core. It nourished, sustained and birthed my twin baby boys. The tissues of my core contain my feelings of self worth, memories of love and abuse, and my motivation to heal. This is just a broad brush stroke, a sweep, and it’s enough to make me cry by its shear beauty, mystery and magnificence. The core is a complex system and in every way is greater than the sum of its parts. But I do love to compartmentalize and make things easy and simple. I’m constantly lured by headlines like: “5 Foods to Eat to Lose Weight,” and “7 Things Happy People Do.” From the looks of my news feed, everyone else loves these quick fixes too. Our knowledge of the core is often reduced to just a few muscles – the Rectus Abdominals (the infamous “six pack”) and recently the Transverse Abdominals (the “navel to spine” muscles). It’s tempting to go after a handful of targeted exercises and work ’em hard until we feel the burn in the belly. While this approach certainly turns on a few muscles of the core, it does little towards creating balanced, functional and integrated awareness and strength. I have long struggled with pain in my low back, SI joints and Sacrum (literally, a pain in my butt). I added diastasis recti, an umbilical hernia and pubic symphasis disorder to the list of my core dysfunction while pregnant with twins. I’ve always chalked it up to years of abusing my body through grueling gymnastics practice and then to being pregnant. While these factors no doubt added strain to my system, they were not the reason my core gave out. Something bigger was at work. If you can’t manage intra-abdominal pressure effectively, when you add extra pressure (crazy exercise, pregnancy, weight gain, etc.) something will pop -and pop it does! This is what happens with hernia, pelvic floor dysfunction, and diastasis recti. Most often than not, we cannot manage the pressure system well because our alignment is so out of whack, and I’m not talking about in Warrior One. I’m talking about how we stand and sit, day in and day out. I’m a chronic rib thruster, which mean I habitually push my rib cage up and forward. This puts a big, “archy” load on my low back, which I’ve tried to correct by tucking my tailbone, only to shorten and tighten my pelvic floor. Gymnastics and yoga exacerbated this pattern (moth to a flame, baby!). Your alignment may be completely different from mine, but the result is very similar. Now I understand why, as a society, we are seeing so many people (including men and children) with hernias, incontinence, respiratory and digestive problems, pelvic/hip/low back pain and degeneration. The reality is everything we do affects our core because we use our core for everything: standing, sitting, squatting, lifting, twisting, reaching, pushing, pulling, walking. Specifically how we do these activities (alignment) and how much we do them throughout the day, affects our core health more than anything. An hour of walking in the woods trumps a brutal 10 minute “ab” workout (can you tell I’ve been following Katy Bowman? You should too.). In fact, my favorite core exercise is…wait for it…breathing! Yep, the diaphragm is one of our deepest core muscles and learning how to use it consciously is a game changer. Even better when you learn how to connect and integrate the diaphragm, the abdominal and back muscles, and the pelvic floor (also known as the pelvic diaphragm). If you want more direction, come to my workshop Fire Up Your Core! Core Integration Workshop 2-4pm Sunday, March 29th. Its $30 for everyone and VIP members save an extra 10%!
Tracey Silverman Yoga Instructor – Forrest | (Website)
- Tracey is a Certified Forrest Yoga teacher and completed her 200 hr RYT with Ana Forrest in 2011. She brings positive, inspiring energy to every class and uses a caring, compassionate touch through hands-on assists to maximize your experience of each pose. Her classes are fun and playful, but challenge you to explore the physical and emotional landscape of your body. Tracey has been practicing yoga for 15 years and continues her studies by assisting Ana Forrest. She completed a year-long mentorship with Forrest Yoga Guardians Catherine Allen and Ann Hyde in 2012. It is through the practice of Forrest Yoga that Tracey is healing her body from the toll of twin pregnancy and college gymnastics – and finds her spirit, voice, and the courage to live her truth.