Do the exercises mindfully. Go slow, be
gentle, and do not do anything that hurts.
C H E S T L I F T
Chest Lift is a basic abs exercise that focuses on the obliques ("six pack").
It may look like the familiar abdominal crunch, but there are some important differences between this exercise and the standard crunch.
Chest Lift is an exercise of average difficulty, and it would take about 5 min for you to try.
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Make sure that your legs are parallel so that your hip, knee and ankle are in one line and the toes are pointing directly away from you.
You are in a position with the natural curve of the lower spine creating a slight lift off the mat.
2. Keep your shoulders down as you bring your hands behind your head with the finger tips touching. Your hands will support the base of your skull.
Your elbows stay open throughout the exercise.
3. Take a few deep breaths. Use this time to make a little survey of your body. Be sure your body is balanced side to side. Check that your neck is relaxed and your ribs are dropped.
4. Exhale: Slowly pull your belly button down toward spine, allowing your spine to lengthen out and the lower back to come down to the mat. Simultaneously, tilt you chin slightly down. From the top of the head, with a long neck, slowly lift the upper spine off the mat until the base of the scapula is just brushing the mat.
There is a deepening feeling under the bottom ribs as you lift.
Remember that the work is in your abs, which are in a deep concave position. Your neck and shoulders stay relaxed, and the movement does not create tension in the legs.
5. Pause at the top and inhale. Draw the abdominals in deeper.
6. Exhale: Keep the abs drawn in as you slowly lower back to the mat.
7. Inhale: Release the abs and return to neutral spine.
Repeat 6 to 8 times
Chest Lift creates a deep curve of the abs down toward the mat. The result is flat abs. (In most crunches, there is a shortening of the rectus abdominus that often causes the abs to pop up on the contraction - this will not create the flat abs people are looking for).
Chest Lift is done very slowly with the breath. There is no momentum being used.
The tail bone and hips do not start to curl up off the floor as is often seen in crunches.
Pelvic Curl is a nice follow up for this exercise.
P E L V I C C U R L
Pelvic Curl is a gentle warm-up for the spine and abdominal muscles. It also works the lower body and helps coordinate breath and movement. If you have upper back or neck problems, you may want to practice just through step 3, or roll up just part way.
Pelvic Curl is classified as easy, and it would take 5 minutes for you to try.
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Make sure that your feet, ankles, and knees are aligned and hip-distance apart. The natural curves of your spine are present so the lower back is not pressed into the mat.
2. Begin sequential breathing:
Inhale. Bring your breath into your chest, then belly, and down to the pelvic floor.
Exhale. Release the breath from the pelvic bowl, the belly, and then the chest. Inhale.
3. Exhale. Do a pelvic tilt by engaging the abdominal muscles and pulling your bellybutton down toward spine. Let that action continue so that the abs press the lower spine into the floor.
In the pelvic tilt position, your back is lengthened against the floor, and the pelvis is tilted so that the pubic bone is a little higher than the hip bones.
4. Inhale. Press down through your feet allowing the tailbone to begin to curl up toward the ceiling. The hips raise, then the lower spine, and, finally, the middle spine.
You will come to rest on your shoulders at the level of your shoulder blades, with a nice straight line from your hips to your shoulders. Do not arch beyond this point. Be sure to support this movement with the abs and hamstrings.
5. Exhale while using abdominal control to roll the spine back down to the floor. Begin with the upper back and work your way down, vertebra by vertebra, until the lower spine settles to the floor.
6. Inhale. Release to neutral spine. Prepare to repeat the exercise by initiating the pelvic tilt on the exhale.
Repeat 3 to 5 times.
If you have upper back or neck problems, you may want to practice engaging and releasing just the pelvic tilt portion (through step 3), or roll up just part way.
Your shoulders and neck remain relaxed throughout the exercise.
A nice counter stretch for pelvic curl is Spine Stretch.