The Benefits of Doing a Simple Abdominal Massage

Some of you have been asking me how I get into this one-armed bound lotus balance.

I love teaching this posture as it has many great effects including massaging the internal organs as well as 5 effects on the nervous system I describe below. I teach this at most of my workshops but most people can’t do it of course, so I also first teach the easiest version which possible for everyone and is simply to sit comfortably and press your fingers as deeply into your relaxed abdomen as you can while breathing deeply into your abdomen and making passive exhalations.

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This exercise and its simple to complex variations there are at least 5 powerful effects on the nervous system if this posture is practiced ideally.

  1. The initial pressure of the elbows into the abdominal muscles stimulates a spinal ‘stretch reflex’ (myotatic reflex) which can in the untrained practitioner cause abdominal tension but when you are experienced it potentially helps to give a ‘stretch reflex activation’ of other trunk muscles such as the back extensors, and helps to make the back stronger.
  2. Continued pressure on the abdomen elicits a strong ‘relaxation reflex’ (inverse myotatic reflex) in the abdominal muscles allowing these often over-tense muscles to have a well-deserved rest.
  3. Activation of the back muscles in order hold the body horizontally in the air cause a ‘reciprocal reflex’ relaxation of the abdominal muscles (especially rectus abdominis), that allows the elbows to dig deeply into and ‘massage’ the internally organs.
  4. Deep diaphragmatic (abdominal) inhalations cause a reciprocal reflex relaxation of the abdominal muscles of forced abdominal exhalation (especially the abdominal obliques), that allows the elbows to do go even deeper into the abdomen (they are even able to sometimes press upon and manipulate the spinal vertebrae from the front).
  5. The ongoing activity of the diaphragm gives access to the parasympathetic nervous system and encourages the activities of relaxation, rest and rejuvenation (the 3 R’s!).

No wonder mayurasana is such a highly praised posture in all the older yoga texts! Mayurasana also has many qualities that make it like a dhauti Kriya (an internal cleansing process).

Are you in Europe? See the details of where I am teaching in Hungary, UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, France, Italy and Germany.

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