IF YOU THINK YOUR ABS ARE JUST A BUNCH OF MUSCLES, THINK AGAIN
For many years I associated the idea of power with physical strength. I also believed that no matter what, I had to be strong. Weakness was not an option. I spent many years proving to the world (or rather to myself) that I was strong. I did tons of work-out challenges, run half marathons, practice hot yoga 4 times a week, eat only raw food for over 6 months and I had the arrogance to believe that when I became a mum for the first time I could handle it all on my own.
A few months into motherhood I realised I was depressed and I needed help. This is when I experienced weakness at all levels: physical, mental and emotional. This was also a pivotal moment in my life, where I rediscovered myself, what I stand for and what I want to do with my life.
I chose this story for 2 reasons:
Inner-power sometimes comes from weakness. Sometimes you have to go through challenging times to be able to grow. Sometimes you have to be weak to become strong.
There are different types of power you can tap into (keep reading)
Before we dive into this, I would like you to pause and to ask yourself: “What’s power? In which situations I felt strong and powerful?”
Journal for a few minutes and then come back here :)
Regardless of what’s your definition of power and how you experience it, the place where it comes from is....drumrolls...your CORE!
Your core is your inner powerhouse. It supports your posture, so you can stand tall. It’s the house of your digestive fire (AGNI), so you can digest food properly. It’s the source of intuition “or gut feeling”, so you can make decisions with confidence.
Anatomically, there are 3 layers of core muscles: TVA, obliques and rectus abdominis.
TVA (transverse abdominal) - is the deepest layer of muscles which runs around the waist like a corset. You contract them when you sneeze or cough. It also helps keep your internal organs in place.
Obliques (internal and external) - are located on the lateral sides of the torso. You use them mainly in spinal twists or lateral flexion.
Rectus abdominis - is the most superficial layer and it’s often called 6 packs. The main action is spinal flexion.
If you think your abs are just a bunch of muscles though, I invite your to think again. Let's dig a little bit deeper on the different types of power and the health benefits of having a strong and balanced core.
This is the type of power you experience after a Vinyasa or Hot Yoga class. You go through impossible sequences (thank you teacher!), you shake, you sweat, you power through and at the end it feels sooooooo good.
The physical benefits of building a strong core are:
You have more balance and stability when walking, running or dancing
Your posture is upright and your spine follows the natural curve. This gives flexibility and creates support, enabling the spine to act as a natural shock-absorber
You breathe better. Strong abs pull the lower ribs down avoiding ribs flair which can be detrimental for your spine alignment and prevent you to exhale completely.
It helps with lower back pain. If you have weak core muscles the back muscles will compensate by working harder. Overtime this can results into back pain
This is the type of power you can experience when practicing Kundalini yoga or during meditation. Is when you catch your thoughts wandering and you redirect them to a single point of focus. It’s when you wake up early to get your workout done. It’s when you choose to step on your mat even if you don’t feel like it.
It’s the inner fire, the motivation which it’s associated with your Manipura Chakra. The Manipura Chakra is located at your solar plexus and it represents the sense of self, your identity, willpower and how you express yourself to the outside world. The purpose of this chakra is transformation.
The mental benefits of cultivating a balanced Manipura chakra are:
You feel confident, good self-esteem
You have appropriate self-discipline
You’re able to meet challenges
You’re spontaneous, playful and have good sense of humor
The Enteric Nervous system consists of the mesh-like system of neurons that governs the function of the gastrointestinal system. It's also referred as the “second brain”. It has 100 million neurons and is in charge of contracting your gut to produce enzymes which help digestion.
From an evolutionary perspective, the gut brain is the first one which animals developed. It’s the brain which connects us with food sources, with the “food” of being social, with a primordial instinct, your "gut feeling”.
The gut is also the place where most emotions come from. If you’ve fallen in love you feel the “butterflies" in your stomach. If you’re nervous your stomach clenches and you don't want to eat anything.
Connecting to your emotional powerhouse requires lots of practice. Any form of mind-body connection practices, like yoga, meditation, breathing, journaling help in this process.
The emotional benefits of learning how to listen to your gut are:
It’s easier to make decisions. Your body will tell you the answers you’re looking for!
You better manage your emotions. If something / someone triggers you emotionally you can acknowledge how you feel and decide how to respond. There is no need to smash things on the floor if you’re angry (and yes, I’ve done that in the past, but it didn’t really brought me anywhere)
You trust yourself. You don’t need external validation. You know all the answers you’re seeking are already within YOU!
Pfiuuuuu, that was a powerful ride, LOL
Now that you know different ways to tap into your power, take some time to ask yourself:
What's the type of power I would like to cultivate more into my life?
What's a simple step I can take today to move towards it?
Thanks for reading!
Until next time…
Be WILD, be YOU